Per an announcement from his wife Sue on Facebook, Scottish comic book writer Alan Grant died this morning, aged just 73. He had apparently been ill for some time. Grant was best known for his work on “2000 AD,” and for being the co-creator of the Batman villains Zsasz, Ratcatcher, and Ventriloquist. He was also a political anarchist, which led him (with artist Norm Breyfogle) to create the DC supervillain/anti-hero Anarky.
Grant was born in Bristol, England, on February 9, 1949, and grew up in Newtongrange, Midlothian. He entered the comics industry in 1967 as an editor at Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson, and moved to London in 1970 to work for IPC on various romance magazines. After returning to college and working other odd jobs, he befriended John Wagner, who at the time was preparing “2000 AD” for its launch in 1977. This led to him writing the “2000 AD” spin-off “Starlord” (not to be confused with the Marvel character), as well as “Judge Dredd,” “Robo-Hunter” and “Strontium Dog” with Wagner.
Together, Grant and Wagner wrote some of the biggest “Judge Dredd” stories of the ’80s, including the ‘Apocalypse War.’ Their success led to them writing for DC by the end of the decade, including the 1987 maxiseries “Outcasts,” and “Detective Comics” in 1988. The pair continued to write “2000 AD,” but fell out creatively over the Judge Dredd story ‘Chopper,’ and the Epic Comics miniseries “The Last American,” leading them to divide up their duties, with Grant continuing to pen “Strontium Dog” and “Judge Anderson.” (The two would reteam on occasion, such as on the crossover “Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgment on Gotham.”)
During the ’90s, Grant’s work for DC included “Batman: Shadow of the Bat,” “The Demon,” “L.E.G.I.O.N.,” and the first solo “Lobo” and “Anarky” series. As one of the decade’s lead Batman writers, he co-wrote crossover event storylines like ‘Knightfall,’ ‘Contagion,’ ‘Legacy,’ and ‘Cataclysm.’ He penned more intercompany crossovers, like “Batman-Spawn: War Devil,” “Superman vs. The Terminator: Death to the Future,” and “Batman/Daredevil: King of New York,” as well as two DC prose novels, Batman: The Stone King (2001), and DC Universe: Last Sons (2006).
By the 2000s, Grant had branched into British children’s entertainment, writing episodes of the series Ace Lightning, as well as a CG animated Action Man film. He continued writing for “2000 AD,” with his final contributions being a Judge Anderson story in 2018, and a war story in “Battle Special” in 2020. He founded his own publishing companies, Bad Press and Berserker Comics, and along with his wife, organized an annual comics festival in their village of Moniaive. He participated in various other local community projects, including an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Escaped intended to mark Edinburgh’s status as the UNESCO City of Literature in 2007, and a Moniaive collaboration on a comic about the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Grant was honored during his lifetime with an Inkpot Award from the San Diego Comic-Con in 1992, and many of his characters have been adapted to film, TV, and video games. 2000 AD have released a statement honoring Grant, calling him “a fascinating man whose sharp wit and boundless warmth touched all those who met him. One cannot separate 2000 AD from Alan Grant, his humour, humanity, and intelligence made it what it is, and his talent was integral to its success. We are forever poorer without him. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and his friends. Rest well and thank you, Alan.”