From a role playing point of view, Brit-Cit is a fascinating place to discover and explore. The UK`s answer to Mega City One, infused delightfully with British sensibilities: where the Judges serve in a role almost akin to `The Avengers` (the old school British ones, not the ones with the green angry guy) slink in and out of the shadows, in a sort of… right proper `Blighty` version of Judge Dredd meets Dirty Harry.
Original comic book characters are often tough to sell to an already over critical American saturated audience, particularly in a universe as idiosyncratic as 2000AD’s Judge Dredd driven world-verse. One can either spend time on an origin story which, if not the subject of a whole comic, takes up valuable pages that could be reserved for the story proper: or you can just dive into your story and have your characters reveal their natures through their actions. reacting to whatever crazy situation it is that you’ve chucked them into.
The authors of our Brit Noir duo tended to opt for the latter, introducing us to Psi-Judge Becky Darke.. just at the very moment in the story where she in turn is being introduced to Detective Inspector Jericho Strange of the Endangered Species Squad. Becky has a psychic tumour that voices both her normal mind and a disturbingly (and uncontrollable) abnormal almost paranormal inner monologue. Making her seem at times to suffer from Tourette Syndrome. While Detective Inspector Jericho Strange is a pretty average guy… with a horse’s skull for a head, due to having been cursed after looking into an ancient occult book of dark magic.
All very British, right?
Whilst there is an argument to say that reading DI Strange’s previous adventures first, might be more rewarding: it’s almost more fun to go into this story completely blind – as the author does a terrific job of capitalising on the particular mystery surrounding our male hero`s horse’s skull; blending a slow reveal with the unravelling main story rather beautifully.
There’s also a lovely lilt to the dialogue, with no two characters sounding the same as their voices sound in your head. The story is a tad on the ‘absolutely insane’ side, but it’s easy enough to follow… and come the end, reaches a conclusion that’s satisfying, and leaves the reader closing the book with a wide contented smile on his or her face.
The art is pretty decently top notch. Gloomy church scenes, smoky offices, blasted waste-lands (including some weirdly dangerous looking sheep) each is given a particular and precise tone that euphorically sets the mood of each. There are some great one page spreads distributed evenly through the story, and whilst the artwork is never exactly flashy, there is a terrific consistency to these cool renderings.
We decided to create this strangely iconic comic book hero and heroine for one simple reason. We wanted to include them in our Judge Dredd games, and no one was making the miniatures we needed (and I suspect never will, due to their limited `very British` appeal), so we simply decided to make them ourselves.
Strange and Darke: don’t the two names just roll naturally off the tongue? They belong together as a team. Starskey and Hutch: Dempsey and Makepiece: Bodie and Doyle…. Strange and Darke! Mr Joe Average except for a frickin` horse`s white skull sitting between his shoulders where a normal human head should be, and a hot sexy Gothic chick, with an embarrassing handicap, which makes her sound like a disturbed medical patient, rather than a trained Psi Judge.
This delicious team are simply too good a deal for any self respecting 2000AD lover to miss up on, either in their table top skirmishes, or their rpg paper and pencil games.
Hils decided to start from scratch, rather than convert an existing miniature. She didnt have any proper modelling clay, so she decided to do the impossible task of working from an old (years out of date) package of Green Stuff. She wasn’t sure how the results would work out, so she decided to make two figures at the same time.
Thus began the slow, painstaking process of building up the wire frame, and then plopping the blobs of sticky clay onto each effigy.
But of course, it all starts with her own initial sketches.
For which she used the Brit Noir Graphic Novel itself to glean ideas from, to create some original art of her own.
Brit Cit Noir Graphic Novel Cover.
The fun bit next….. the painting.Psi Judge Becky Darke with her legendary Soul Drinking `Doom Blade`, and two versions of Brit-Cit Judge PI Jethro Stange. Version one is him slouched, hands in pockets… looking decidedly Columbo like. With the other version he is more on the ball, Carbo Blast Gun in hand: digging deeply into his pocket with the other hand… no doubt looking for his infernal foul smelling pipe and tobacco.
Hils don`t like using pre-made bases for her models (she says its seems lazy, after spending good time preparing a good miniature: why not go the whole hog, lol. So yeah. she always makes and bakes her own bases out of Polymer Clay).
Hils said from the start: “I wanted to get that comic book sketch like quality to the the models, `cos you don`t often see that style done with table top miniatures”
Finished… Da daaaaa!!!