While many readers and fans will always associate 2000 AD with Judge Dredd, Rebellion Publishing will be the first to tell you that it began as a comic for kids. With so many stories containing bloodshed, gore, and more than a few complicated political scenarios, 2000 AD ReGened has acted as a true all-ages solution for the kids who want the space adventuring 2000 AD serialized vibe without all of the hyper-violence, but without sacrificing complexity. Thankfully, part of this initiative has been headed up by Eisner-nominated writer Alex de Campi and artist Eduardo Ocaña with their space-faring thrill ride of a story, Full Tilt Boogie.
Named after the spaceship of the series that has been overtaken by main character Tee — a teenaged bounty hunter who travels the galaxy with her crew: her grandma, her friends, and her cat (who is more than a little bit unusual).
Comics Beat got a chance to talk with de Campi over email to discuss her influences in making a space opera, and see what it was like to make a war comic that’s suitable for kids.
Chloe Maveal: I can’t help but ask because it really is catchy…but where did the concept (and ship name) “Full Tilt Boogie” come from?
Alex De Campi: The concept came from me mainlining Gatchaman and Space Battle Cruiser Yamato as a kid on Saturday morning local TV and falling in love with the Japanese anime idea of space epics, whereas all my normal peers in the West were busy deciding whether they were Star Trek or Star Wars. The name, well, Full Tilt Boogie was the name of Janis Joplin’s final band before she died, and it was also the name of a friend’s racing boat when I lived in Hong Kong and I always thought it was a great name. (Another good boat name from that time of my life was “Lunchcutter,” but that will be funny only to Australians.)
Maveal: The introduction of Full Tilt Boogie was in Prog 2130 in the 2019 ReGened issue of 2000 AD. What is it like returning to a story that you began a year ago? Are you excited to have more room to explore the story and its characters?
De Campi: Well, I actually wrote this entire arc of Full Tilt Boogie a year ago, not long after the initial episode appeared in the first ReGened. I’d been working on the idea for [Full Tilt Boogie] for a long, long time, so really it had been pretty well developed already. The actual difficulty was carving a 10-page stand-alone episode out of it for the original ReGened!
Maveal: There’s clearly a story about war being set up in what we’ve seen so far. How — especially as a writer who has kids yourself — do you go about making an interstellar war story that is easily digestible for younger readers?
De Campi: By focusing it on the teen characters, and mostly making it about how adults are frequently made of bullshit. None of these kids really believe in the war (well, except one). They’re mostly just confused and figuring out how not to get hurt and not get caught up in all this. But very often, doing the right thing puts you in the way of large authority figures keen on maintaining their own power… but then again, so does doing the wrong thing. Kids are smarter than you think. You can throw a lot at them, and they’ll get it. And it still can be (and is!) a really intense story, even though there’s no swearing and no sex or bloodshed.
Maveal: Within the first installment there are several scene changes and location jumps. With future episodes obviously planned for the future now, how big have you planned for this universe of the story to be?
De Campi: By the end of the arc, you pretty much see how big the story is. Of course, I can always expand it, but you have met all the main antagonists and protagonists and a couple who switch sides. Though the first arc hopefully has a very satisfying ending, we only touch on the main mystery. I’m hoping we’re popular enough that we can have a few more arcs.
Maveal: What or where do you draw your inspiration from when it comes to stories like these with vast universes with different cultures and surroundings?
De Campi: As I said already, a lot of my perception of how a space opera should be is based on things like Gatchaman and Yamato and Captain Harlock. Add into that some of the amazing world building of European BD creators like [Alejandro] Jodorowsky and Moebius (with The Incal) and Bilal (with Nikopol and Sommeil Du Monstre) and you pretty much have Full Tilt Boogie. The little cherubs in the story are absolutely something that you could find in a Jodorowsky or [Enki] Bilal book. But also I’m taking influence from things like contemporary stan culture, and Horus is sideways-based on a rotting computer that was in a Michael Moorcock book (Dancers at the End of Time, iirc). But ultimately it’s about a teen girl who flies around in her own spaceship with her grandma and her pet cat and is trying to get paid and stay out of trouble in a universe that suddenly becomes hell-bent on destroying her.
Maveal: It feels like the character focus has shifted from 2000 AD’s 2019 ReGened where there was a spotlight on Tee and her crew. This new episode places the focus pretty squarely on the mysterious character Black Dog. Is this something that we can expect to be followed throughout the series or will we still be seeing a lot from Tee and the gang?
De Campi: It’s an ensemble cast. Tee remains the main character, but now that we have more space and time, we can develop some of the other characters too, including the super sentai team of teens that are sent to bring down Tee and the Black Dog and Horus. We’ll still change locations a lot, but after this first episode we won’t be changing the time frame as much. But hey, why not start with a giant interstellar space battle?
The first issue of Full Tilt Boogie is available digitally in 2000 AD Prog 2185 today!