INTERVIEW: Katy Rex and Liana Kangas on the return of Tyranny Rex
4 months ago
Tyranny Rex, last of the Saurons and the troubleshooter with a tail for hire, has been many things over the years; body-cloning artist, adventurer, mercenary, nun (yes, a nun).
She's kidnapped, killed, and protected across worlds. Not seen in the pages of the Galaxy's Greatest Comic since Prog 1399, over a decade ago, she's finally returning in the 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special. Richard Bruton sat down with writer Katy Rex and artist Liana Kangas to talk all things Tyranny...
Richard Bruton: First of all, Katy, with your name, is writing Tyranny Rex something that you just knew was eventually going to happen?
Katy Rex: I think more "hoped" than "knew"- writing a Tyranny story is absolutely a dream come true.
What can we expect from the long time in coming return of Tyranny Rex?
KR: Expect her at her Tyranny Rex-est, cupcake!
Liana Kangas: All I know is Tyranny seems like she has a penchant for being up to no good - and I’m excited to be a part of that with Katy Rex.
Over the years, Tyranny has changed roles and jobs so many times, whether it was artist, gun-for-hire, or even nun. Which Tyranny Rex are we going to be seeing this time?
KR: As much fun as her nun run was, I wanted to go back to her roots. Tyranny's personality shines best when she's an artist and a grifter with a devil-may-care attitude. She's a really singular personality, I absolutely love it.
How did you writing and drawing Tyranny in the Sci-FI Special come about?
LK: Matt Smith actually reached out to me and I was so stoked! I’m all in for female-led comics, I love representing an idea that I strongly believe in, and I’m trying to hold in my inner fan girl of working on a John Smith/Steve Dillon created character.
KR: I've been a 2000 AD fan for years, and I've been working at the booth at SDCC and NYCC since I think 2014. Working so closely with the company gave them a chance to get to know me and my work informally, so when this opportunity came up, I was lucky enough to be invited to participate.
As you're both American, how did you first experience 2000 AD? And what does it mean to you to be in its pages?
KR: I was reading a lot of international comics, including 2000 AD, in college, but I don't know if the full impact of what the company's history was hit me until I was working at conventions for them and was not only *selling* the early short stories from comics legends, but meeting creators that I consider heroes. So to say I feel privileged to be a part of their line up is an understatement.
LK: I’ve been familiar with 2000 AD through working at comic shops but I haven’t held a copy of one in a hot minute since I lived in Canada. I think because the print version is such a niche here in the states I can appreciate the format that much more.
Do you have any particular memories of seeing Tyranny Rex in its pages, or is this something you've needed to go back through the old stories to get a feel for the character?
KR: I absolutely did due diligence and went back and read everything Tyranny has ever been in. Maybe I could have done without, but it was both really important to me to get it right, and also a really good excuse to re-read some badass stories.
LK: I’m fairly new to Tyranny. I’ve seen a pic of her here and there in passing, but I definitely had some help researching into Tyranny and her personality. Luckily I can kinda relate to her as a character which makes it that much more fun to bring to life with Katy.
Katy, Tyranny Rex has been one of those characters with a singular vision behind her. All of her tales have come from the pen of John Smith. Is there possibly some trepidation when taking on a one-writer character such as this?
KR: Yes, actually, I'm terrified- thanks for bringing it up! No honestly, I'm following in the footsteps of legends at basically every step here, and it would be ridiculous not to feel at least a little out of my depth. But I know that the editors at 2000 AD know my work, and although I can't and won't be John Smith, I have to believe that my take will do her justice. And hopefully the ways I personally relate to her (morally questionable, art lover, badass lady, tail) will help this story fit in his canon with my own voice!
When you're working on a done-in-one story, do you find yourself writing as if this is merely the starting point in a potential series, or did the idea with Tyranny come to you as a complete tale?
KR: While this story totally could be a starting point in a series, it's also DEFINITELY a stand alone. I didn't write it specifically to start anything new, but I did want to place it strongly in Tyranny's world so her longtime fans would have references and characters that they recognize.
Her links with Indigo Prime and the whole "Smith-verse" idea are long established. Is this something you could see yourselves developing or is your Tyranny Rex very much out there on her own?
KR: This Tyranny could definitely continue into stories featuring any number of Indigo Prime agents, I'd love to write something like that. Stay tuned, I guess?
Liana, from what I've seen of your style, I expect you'll be bringing a more realistic portrayal to the last of the Saurons?
LK: I love drawing characters (especially sci-fi) within the means of how they were created but enjoy putting them in relatable practical aethstetic. I’m definitely excited to show her in my style to where I could give her a bit of normalcy - something that’s relatable but still true to Tyranny’s origin, without over sexualizing her.
This Sci-Fi Special will be very special for more than just its content. What are your thoughts about this all-female creative issue?
KR: As to the tagline itself, I'll say that I find it really exciting. I've personally never felt tokenized by 2000 AD and have been hearing from people at the company for years about their work trying to find and bring in new voices. With their history of characters like Anderson, Durham Red, and Tyranny, I feel like an empowered female special is very consistent with the company's ethos and sensibility.
LK: Having worked in comic shops, I could see the immediate arguments posed on both sides (and even in the middle,) but I’ll always stand for a woman’s place in comics as long as they’re talented, hard working and great at what they do. I think it’s pretty great that 2000 AD has decided to curate something to maybe reach out to an untapped market. Women are buying more comics than ever and to be represented and hired even, shows the progressive actions that they’re taking in the industry. And of course, I am honoured to be in the book alongside so many writers and artists I love. I’m hoping that these annuals will bring more visibility to the publisher and more copies over here in the States. We need more weird sci-fi, always.
As you're both new to the pages of 2000 AD, readers would love to hear a little of who you are and what you've been involved in already. Do tell!
KR: Oy, a bio? I'm terrible at these! My first not-self-published book, Jade Street Protection Services with my co creator Fabian Lelay, came out from Black Mask Studios a couple years ago. My friend Magdalene Visaggio edited it, and at the same time I was editing her Black Mask book, Kim & Kim, which was nominated for an Eisner last year. Since then I've been working on the Charmed manga and a Sweet Valley High OGN over at Dynamite, some Doctor Who short story stuff at Titan, and a handful of crowd-funded horror anthologies. In fact, Liana and I are both currently (separately) part of an ongoing project on Kickstarter called Everything Is Going Wrong. Its intent is to spotlight punk and mental health, and the proceeds will go to fund the Trevor Project and MusiCares.
LK: Arguably the hardest question! I’m Liana, a freelance comic artist in the tri-state area near NYC. I’ve been pursuing comics for little over two years now, and have recently been published with Erica Schultz in Where We Live, the Las Vegas benefit anthology, from Image Comics and with Pat Shand for a Destiny, NY short in the Mine! Planned Parenthood anthology.
The 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special is out in the UK on 20 June and out in North America in July. Pre-order a copy now from the 2000 AD webshop...