Soaring off of the pages of 2000AD Regened comes Tee, a resourceful teen bounty hunter/hired help who, along with her grandmother and her cat, takes the spaceship, Full Tilt Boogie, on a sprawling science fiction adventure across the cosmos. Written by Alex de Campi, with art by Eduardo Ocaña and letters by Ellie de Ville, Full Tilt Boogie is an all-ages story about a girl who is hired to rescue a prince from his debtor’s prison, but plans fall apart when they crash on a distant moon an encounter an enigmatic AI called Horus and the deadly Black Dog.
“The story is a love letter to Gatchaman and Space Battle Cruiser Yamato, which I watched as a kid religiously in their badly-dubbed US versions, Battle of the Planets and Star Blazers,” explains de Campi in an interview with WWAC. “There’s probably a strong dash of great French bande dessinée sci-fi operas too, and manga, in the way that I allow the future to be a little absurd in places, and there’s a constant interplay between really solid emotional arcs/moments and comedic moments.” The name of the ship itself comes from Janis Joplin’s band, and is also the name of a boat belonging to de Campi’s friend’s boat in Hong Kong. “I always thought it was a great name for a racing sailboat, or a spaceship.”
The opening sequence of the story touches on Egyptian mythology, introducing us to a dark empire of undead soldiers that are referred to as the Anubite. But, de Campi points out, it’s disingenuous to assume that Egyptian mythology shapes the story itself. “Egyptian mythology isn’t really a foundational element of the story beyond my using ‘Anubite’ to suggest a dark empire that used a sort of undead soldier (from Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead and all-around cool dude with a dog’s head.) There’s not much rhyming and stealing that goes on vis-a-vis Earth religions or traditions. It’s not, like, Romans in space or anything — because that’s quite dull, and been done so often.”
Nor should we make assumptions about Tee’s particular career. “It’s less bounty hunting per se than the idea of her being part of a futuristic gig economy. She goes and finds things (and people) and gets paid for it, sometimes.” As many of us have experienced as teens, getting a job to earn our own extra cash was a rite of passage for some, and a necessity for others. “And folks took advantage of us a lot,” notes de Campi, “either underpaying us or expecting us to work for free. So this is where Tee is, but instead of working in fast food or at Hot Topic, she’s got one asset (an old spaceship) and is a freelancer. That was a bit of wish fulfilment, though — having a car was dream enough as a teen, but your own spaceship? Goals.”
Despite being an all-ages comic, de Campi didn’t need to shift her mindset too much when it came to switching from her more mature prose and graphic novel work. “No swears, and no blood (robotic fluid okay, though),” she notes, but otherwise, the intensity is just as high as her usual writing. “Being a teenager is an intense time. Everything feels like the end of the world, every interpersonal drama is going to change things forever. And teens are smart, you don’t need to dumb stories down for them. My work’s always been about characters first, and emotional arcs, and I think that plays well for teens.”
The ideas for Full Tilt Boogie have been brewing for several years, as we can see from early sketches on de Campi’s website.
Eduardo Ocaña was her first choice when the opportunity came about, after having worked with him several years ago on a Humanoides BD series. They’ve stayed friends ever since and is a perfect match for everything Full Tilt Boogie has to offer. “His skill at rendering interesting-looking teens, and the fact that he’s got an amazing vision of unusual, detailed SF settings. This is the guy who can draw spaceships, and can draw believable kids, and can draw the more absurdist stuff we put in there (the cherubs! I LOVE THE CHERUBS).” Their friendship, previous experience, and Ocaña’s skill made for a “very laissez-faire” collaboration process. “I wrote all ten episodes in advance in one script, sent them to Ed, and then Tharg and I started getting pencils back. I don’t really need to guide Ed; every so often something I put in the script is unclear and I have to say ‘oh, sorry, I really meant this’ but that’s my fault, not his.”
And when those pages come back and she sees her characters and worlds come alive in each panel, the feeling is great, says de Campi. Every single time. “Whether it’s my idiot working-class sons in Bad Karma, or my beautiful brave space daughter in Full Tilt Boogie. Or my neon-drenched night creatures in Dracula, Mother F**ker. Never gets old, never stops being special.”
Get your hands on Full Tile Boogie on June 10th. And in the mean time, check out these preview pages: