It was a surprise worthy of a cliffhanger in any issue of 2000AD: former Judge Dredd scribe Alan Grant is a fan of Barbie. Island Barbie to be precise.
This bombshell came near the end of last night’s talk with the comics legend, held at Surgeons’ Hall in Edinburgh.
A question from the audience on which comic Grant would recommend to a 10-year-old girl led to the revelation that he had watched an Island Barbie DVD last week with his granddaughter and was impressed by the quality of the script.
In his youth the Dundonian writer had enthused over the cowboy novels read by his father and the doctor and nurse romantic stories beloved of his mother.
A constant diet of his parents reading matter, alongside a weekly dose of comics from Dundee-based DC Thomson, led to an affinity with the written word from an early age and a career that started as a sub-editor on Thomson’s romance magazines.
The centrepiece of the discussion, Grant’s much publicised take on seeing the topics he had written about in the pages of his comics come true – smoking bans, the rise of obesity, governments’ desire to quash individuality and freedom of speech under the guise of anti-terrorism laws – were intriguing.
Yet these views almost paled in comparison to the life of a man whose career has seen him work on some of the most iconic characters in British (Judge Dredd) and American (Batman) culture while working with creatives such as John Wagner and Alan Moore.
The only hint of negativity came during discussion of his 1986 comic, The Bogey Man. The story of the comic – the problems getting it commissioned, a change in location from San Francisco to Glasgow – and its subsequent failed transition to television gave a hint of the behind-the-scenes problems that have often followed Grant from job to job.
This was a fascinating evening in the presence of a self-deprecating and humorous man. The Mighty Tharg could do worse than to continue bringing Alan Grant back for more issues of 2000AD to show the newbies a thing or two.