Mind Meld With 2000 AD/Rebellion’s Michael Molcher!

1. Hello there, and welcome to the Mind Meld here at IndieComiX! For those who may not be aware of you and what it is you do, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Pat Loika’s excellent portrait of Michael!

Galactic greetings, thanks for having me! Well, by day I’m officially Molch-R, the publicity droid for the legendary comic book 2000 AD. I’ve been there for over a decade now and it’s mostly a mix of long publishing lunches and naps under my desk (not really). As I am now officially the ‘brand manager’, I’m involved in everything from publicity to social media, from licensing to wider promotions and reputational work. It’s … a lot. That would be a problem if this wasn’t my dream job– promoting the comic I’ve been reading since I was a kid and which has had such an effect on my life and its direction.

2. You’ve long been the go to guy between 2000 AD and reviewers like myself for as long as I can remember, what led to you getting this position originally?

Good timing and good fortune, mostly. Out of uni I started out as a reporter for a couple of local newspapers and then jumped into local government PR, neither of which made me (or anyone else) particularly happy – but around the same time as I started in PR I began interviewing 2000 AD artists and writers for the Judge Dredd Megazine. So when this job came up I had the experience and the proof that I knew what I was talking about. Life in the Nerve Centre began about 18 months before the Dredd movie came out, which was a hell of a starting point! 2000 AD hadn’t had a dedicated full-time PR person for a long while, though at first I did the PR for all of Rebellion (games, fiction etc. etc.) and it was only after a few years that I went onto 2000 AD full time.

3. As recently announced, you’re publishing your first title which is due out in February for 2000 AD on the Lawliest Lawman to ever exist, Judge Dredd himself, what made now the right time to get this out in the world? And for that matter, just how excited are you with getting your first title put out in the world?

Michael’s upcoming Novel! Cover art by Pye Parr

A few years ago we launched Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection with Hachette Partworks, a series of regular hardcover collections that formed a 90-volume series of some of the best of Judge Dredd. I was commissioned to write the backmatter for these and they became a mixture of creator interviews and little critical essays about the ideas and themes behind the various stories. I had an inkling that they could be turned into a book and, fast forward a few years, and Rebellion offered to commission me to do just that.

What this turned into, though, was less of a rehash or refinement of those and more of a brand new project that focused on the context of Judge Dredd in terms of politics and history – specifically the history of policing in the UK and beyond. So there’s a lot of radical politics in there, some hopefully unique perspectives on stories people think they know, and a case study on how a comic book for kids provided the sharpest satire on our shift towards authoritarian ‘law and order’ politics there is.

A Day at the Block Wars, Prog 448 (1985), art by Ron Smith

In terms of the timing, well… there’s never been a better time. George Floyd was murdered two weeks before I officially started work on I Am The Law, and everything that has happened since has only reinforced for me the book’s timeliness. Lots of people think they know what Dredd is and isn’t, and I suspect there’s been an assumption that he and the strip are either a relic of the Thatcherite past or a two-dimensional power fantasy with nothing to say about our contemporary world. But as soon as I started my research I realised that he’s more relevant than ever, and not just as something of passing interest – at the strip’s heart is a satire of power, the way that power is exercised by the state through institutions such as the police, and how john Wagner, Alan Grant, and all the amazing creators they worked with saw how this was going to play out decades ago.

Better the devil you know, Progs 750 to 753 (1991), art by Jeff Anderson

I’m not sure exciting is the right word – seeing the finished book is … weird. For so long it was all in my head and now it’s a solid object that other people can read. However, I’m immensely proud of I Am The Law, it’s sure to provoke some strong opinions. Most importantly, it has reinvigorated my love of Judge Dredd as a character and given me a whole new perspective on John Wagner’s writing. The man’s a frikking genius.

4. Beyond IATW, will we be seeing more published work from you? Or is this a one time thing?

Haha! I suspect only a one-time thing. It was a huge undertaking that challenged me in ways I had never imagined. A friend told me that I’d essentially done a PhD, which I can’t argue with; it took me two years and I went a little mad at times, but hopefully it has been worth it.

America, Megazine #1 (1990), art by Colin MacNeil

5. Well, perhaps in the future you’ll decide to do more if the Creative Flow gets going! Outside of what you think will be strong opinions happening where IATW is concerned, are you hoping for any lessons to be learned from the book?

I’d hope so, if only that it opens up more interest in Judge Dredd as an important, if not the most important, comic book character to come out of Britain. I’d also be gratified if the book made even a small contribution to the growing awareness of our politics’ slide towards populist authoritarianism, we are at a really critical moment where the final move is being made against our fundamental rights to dissent and resist. In its own hilarious, frightening, and fascinating way, Dredd has been warning us about this for decades.

6. Had Dredd gotten a sequel, do you think it would have ultimately helped spawn a 2000 AD Cinematic Universe?

The Dredd movie was great and has clearly (eventually) punched through to wider consciousness but, speaking entirely in a personal capacity, while I’m all for more TV and film adaptations that are faithful to the source material, for me they’re not the be-and-end-all – it’s the comics that matter the most to me.

7. Speaking of, are there any other potential film adaptations in the works for other AD properties?

Can’t answer that one for you, sorry!

8. Given some of the news that has come out lately in regards to certain Publishers failing to pay on time, is that something fans and creators have to worry about where 2000 AD is concerned?

Absolutely not. It’s been a bumpy 12 months for everyone in the industry, but we’ve had two of our most successful years ever – and there’s lots of plans for the years ahead that are currently bubbling away.

9. Speaking of ol’ Dredd himself, he’s been in a few crossovers over the years, what’s one you haven’t seen but would like to see done?

We had exploratory discussions a few years ago about a possible crossover with Archie, which sadly never came to pass. Never say never though…

10. What’s your take on AI art?

Very simple: it’s theft, it devalues artists, and I’ll have nowt to do with it.

Prog 531 cover (1987), art by John Higgins

11. For my final question, what advice would you give to those looking to get into the Industry?

My path into the comics industry was so particular that I’m unsure how useful any advice I can give would be – I was a local newspaper journalist who crossed over to local government PR, but began interviewing 2000 AD artists and writers for the Judge Dredd Megazine after an interview I conducted with Alan Moore for my small press magazine got noticed. After a few years doing that, an opening came up at Rebellion and they already knew who I was so…

The best advice I can give to anyone looking to get into the industry is to read – not just comics and not just genres you like. Absorb non-fiction, history, biography, poetry, and translated authors. Broaden your tastes, experiences and knowledge base. It will all make your work better, make it feel informed and authentic, and therefore more likely to connect with your audience.

Action cover – art by Carlos Ezquerra

Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to Michael for agreeing to take part in this interview! I Am The Law will be available on February 23rd where all Comics are sold! Getcha Pre-Purchase on right here!

Interview by: Rob Wrecks