Rok of the Reds Issue 1 (of 6)
2nd March 2016
Published by BHP Comics
Writers: John Wagner & Alan Grant
Artist: Dan Cornwell
Colours: Abby Bulmer
Letters: Jim Campbell
Created by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Dan Cornwell
Genre – SciFi & Soccer
John Wagner and Alan Grant are giant names in the British Comic industry.
Alan Grant started as an Editor with DC Thomson before joining IPC in 1970. At both companies he met John Wagner. John Wagner had worked mostly on comics aimed at girls for both companies.
The pair sealed their working relationship in 2000AD with a number of pseudonyms on titles such as Judge Dredd, Robo-Hunter and Strontium Dog.
Strontium Dog is where Dan Cornwell comes in. Dan drew a strip for the fanzine Dogbreath and while considering Artists for Rok of the Reds John Wagner saw Dan’s artwork and invited him along.
The announcement of more new work from the Wagner/Grant writing partnership caused a lot of excitement among core readers of British comics. When Dan Cornwell became involved it sent a flutter through the Small Press community. If you think you recall a different name for this comic you are right. It was orginally called Rom of the Reds but the Creators spotted there was an unrelated character called Rom and chose to alter the name to avoid any clash.
The preview pages are at the end of the article.
Rok of the Reds is both a SciFi thriller and a good old fashioned Soccer story.
That’s the second time I’ve used the word ‘Soccer’ in this article. I do so for clarity as there are many different forms of Football, including Rugby, Australian Rules and American Football. Soccer is not an Americanism as is so often stated, Soccer is an abbreviation for association Football – that is the type of Football in this story, Soccer.
Is this an old fashioned Soccer story? Yes in some ways it certainly is. The script deals with a 21st Century style Soccer player and his antics but in a way that reminds me of the type of Soccer story that was prevalent in the 70’s during my childhood.
Similarly there is a 60’s/70’s feel to the SciFi elements. Principally there is a lot of exposition which was common in those eras and progressively less common through the years.
The art from Dan Cornwell compliments the script brilliantly. Page one in particular gives a very old look, yet at the same time there is a very modern look to the panels. This of course is completed with the colours from Abby Bulmer.
In Dogbreath Dan’s line-work was not coloured and here we see the same as what he delivered in black and white, solid story telling. Storytelling is that all important thing that the art should be doing in a comic. Even without the words we should be able to understand some of the story in the same way we can follow a Soccer match without a commentary. Dan delivers here.
I’ve been sparse on details of the plot, you can pick some of that up from the pages I’ve selected to share in this Preview. I have cut out two pages from the first scene of the story as I think it is a little more spoilery than I wanted. But you should be able to twell that Rok has a secret and perhaps Kyle Dixon might not be very likable.
These sort of characters can generate a lot of emotions and it is refreshing to bot be told by the plut ‘You love these guys’. Of course to keep readers for the full run of six issues the script needs to have the readers care about how the characters realise whatever it is they are striving for. John Wagner and Alan Grant have a track record of doing this.
So far I’ve mentioned everyone who contributed to this story, granted very briefly regarding Abby Bulmer. The input of a Colourist can easily be overlooked. More so the Letterer. If you look around this Blog I think you’ll find that outside my Previews and Reviews of 2000AD titles Jim Campbell is the Letterer that features the most in comics I write about. That is clearly because the Writers and Artists I enjoy respect what Jim brings. You might not see it but Jim adds a great deal to how you read the comics he letters. He is the one that really links the words the Writers wrote to the interp[retation of them by the Artist.
This is a very interesting and enjoyable first issue and I’m looking forward very much to issue 2.