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Home ¦ Features ¦ Andy Diggle Interview Part 1

27th July 03

Interview by Richmond Clements

Andy Diggle has been widely regarded as one of the saviours of 2000AD, and responsible for setting it down the track to it's current success. Taking over as Editor from David Bishop, Diggle revitalised the comic before handing it over to Matt Smith and pursuing his writing. After getting kudos for Lenny Zero in the Megazine - Diggle experienced further successes in the weekly comic with the highly acclaimed Dredd Vs Aliens (written with John Wagner) and the recently concluded Snow/Tiger. Richmond Clements caught up with him recently to discuss 2000AD and what's next...

Snow/Tiger, I think can be said, was fairly controversial. It has been accused of being Anti-American, a charge that I am sure you would disagree with. But can you perhaps understand this criticism?

Not really, no. What's anti-American about it? It was never intended to be controversial - quite to opposite, in fact. I mean, what could possibly be less controversial than fighting Nazis? I had assumed that Nazism was generally regarded as a Bad Thing, but maybe I'm wrong...

There's a letter in 2000 AD Prog 1350 which claims that Snow/Tiger "inferred (sic) that anyone to the right of Marx must have plans for the mass liquidation of humanity". This logical leap from a bunch of genocidal, goose-stepping, swastika-saluting Nazis to "anyone to the right of Marx" isn't one that I'm easily able to make, but it is typical of some of the more hysterical and reactionary responses to the series - the same kind of thinking that gave the world "Freedom Fries".

The same reader pointed out that Muslim women don't run U.S. SWAT teams. He's quite right, of course - which is why Tiger runs the SWAT team, not Snow.

Another point which some people seem to have missed is that my sympathies lie far more with Tiger than Snow. The mere fact that she whines about political correctness and Tiger's hardline tactics doesn't mean she's right. In fact, in every instance where our all-American hero Tiger wades in with guns blazing, the story reveals him to be taking exactly the right course of action - whether it's taking out the terrorists at the CDC, storming the Nazi compound or blowing up the rocket. Left to her own devices, Snow would have been dead by the end of page three.

Did the idea for the story come about before 9/11, and if so, did that incident affect the moods and themes of the story in any way?

It arose more from the Bush administration's response to 911. Instead of showing the world what a tolerant, diverse, freedom-loving nation America is, Bush started clamping down on civil liberties, issuing threats to the rest of the world and bombing the Middle East again, turning previously moderate Arabs into America-haters.

Let me be clear - being anti-Bush does not make me anti-American. I would quite happily emigrate to America if guys like him weren't running the show.

The last page of the first episode is a very striking picture, with Senator Lydecker and his troops shown against a huge swastika background. Was this intended to be provocative, and if so, did it work?

It was intended to be a bold, striking image which sets up the bad guys and their motivations in an instant. Snow/Tiger is basically a Hollywood action movie, and I'm so sick of the British always being portrayed as the villains in these things, I thought it would make a change to turn the tables for once. But it seems the mere suggestion that the villain could be an American is deemed "controversial". How sad.

Snow's escape from her jail cell, was that a nod to the Watchmen?

Not consciously. That's something I'm actually quite embarrassed about - I'd forgotten all about that Watchmen scene until Jamie Boardman pointed it out to me on the Andy Diggle Forum. Of course, looking at it now, it's obvious that the memory of it must have been lurking in my subconscious when I wrote it, even down to the nine-panel grid which I specified in the script.

So yeah, I'm annoyed at myself. It would have been easy to come up with something better. If they ever collect Snow/Tiger, I'd be quite happy to pay Andy Clarke to draw a new page, featuring a new method of escape for Snow. I've figured out how she'd do it.

And are you fed up with people asking you that yet?

Not at all, it's quite right that they should. We learn from our mistakes, you know? God knows I wouldn't want to turn into someone who thinks he can do no wrong.

How many of your ideas in Snow/Tiger came from your research? For example, is it possible to track a Stealth by hacking into the US military satellite network? How easy is it to buy an old nuclear silo?

Well, the U.S. military needs to be able to track its own planes, even if they're radar-invisible. So if you're able to decrypt the transponder telemetry, you're laughing. Obviously it's not easy to do, but it's theoretically possible.

As for buying an old silo, it's perfectly straightforward - the Department Of Defence are selling them off to private buyers. There's this guy called Crossley who's refurbishing an old Atlas-E ICBM silo into a home! So when Lydecker says "these places were going for a song after they shit-canned the Titan II", that's literally true. It's not like some James Bond movie where the villain builds a giant undersea base or a space station without anybody noticing. Similarly, I was able to obtain the 204-page users manual for the Soyuz rocket system from Starsem, the Russian company that builds and sells them to private companies. Anything you need to know, you can find it on the Internet.

So yeah, a lot of the stuff in the story came from research. There was a lot of cool stuff I didn't have room for, as I had to keep the story down to 46 pages, which is pretty tight for a big loud action series.
Go to part 2

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