Launched on November 2013, 100% Biodegradable is a quarterly digital anthology which features some of the best science-fiction and fantasy storytelling from the British indie comics scene. Taking a cue from 2000AD’s Future Shocks format, each edition of 100% Biodegradable transports readers to a wonderfully diverse selection of worlds in a handful of pages, often implementing some twist-endings to fry even the most seasoned of brains. It’s pulp sci-fi at its best, and a brilliant showcase of writing and artistic talent.
The anthology is the brain-child of David Hailwood and aside from writing some of the strips, he also acts as editor, carefully cultivating the tone and flavour of each volume as he mixes the different strips together like a DJ in a sweaty Soho nightclub. Stories can lurch from gruesome horror to humour-laden pastiche in the blink of an eye, yet the anthology never loses its distinct personality. It feels like lazy reviewing to just compare 100% Biodegradable to 2000AD, even though it earns that comparison completely, but to be more precise it shares the same DNA as those early years of 2000AD – the slightly rougher, gritty and independent tone that the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic had in the late-seventies and early-eighties. While 2000AD still subverts and leads the way in British Comics, it lacks the same ‘small press’ feel that 100% Biodegradable has buckets of.
Highlights from the series includes “The Ides of Mars” (seen in Issue 16) – a tense space thriller which feels reminiscent of the Doctor Who serial “The Waters of Mars”, but taken to a brutal and bloody extreme that you wouldn’t find on a Saturday tea-time show. Written by Paul Bradford and with art from Luciano Fleitas, the six-page strip makes a definite impact and showcases the series’ capacity for bleak horror.
Another favourite (also seen in Issue 16) is “Rourke of the Radlands: The Wand” which is actually a reprint of a story which initially appeared in Marvel UK’s STRIP magazine during the 1990s. Written by John Freeman, and with art from Liam Sharp, the resulting story is a fun toe-dip into the waters of a world where technology and dungeons-and-dragons fantasy co-exist. Luckily, the series creator John Freeman is keen to publish new Rourke of the Radlands strips, breathing new life into the character in her new home.
Introduced in Issue 15 is the multi-part serial, “Skowdogs” which feels reminiscent of Joss Whedon’s cult sci-fi series Firefly, showcasing a crew of scavengers on the run from the Merchant’s Alliance after a deal goes badly. Written by both John Freeman and David Hailwood, this series has some wonderful characterisation and is a brilliant choice for a lengthier guest-spot in the anthology. The art from Dave Thomson is clear and straight-forward in design which helps immensely with the storytelling.
I also enjoyed “The Big 4-0” (featured in Issue 11) which deals with the concept of the mid-life crisis through a hard fantasy prism. Rather than rushing out to buy a sports car and sleep with girls half your age, this unfortunate forty year-old embarks on a brave quest into the labyrinth to restore his youth and vigor. It’s a great story from David Hailwood and Tony Suleri, again demonstrating the tongue-in-cheek tone of this this multi-faceted anthology.
My final recommendation would have to be “The Last Batch” (seen in Issue 08), which subverts the well-worn formula of the zombie invasion nicely. Written by Chris Sides, the short story is a darkly comic cautionary tale about the added iron content that might be lurking in the bottom of a certain Irish stout drink. The art from Dan Cornwell is absolutely beautiful and is reminiscent of those initial The Walking Dead issues from Tony Moore. I would love to see Cornwell on a regular zombie book – he is a fantastic talent, unearthed by this British anthology.
There’s countless other stories in the issues that I’ve read that deserve a mention, such as “Rock Rider” which features an rock-star traversing the galaxy in a mucus-suit, or “Area 101” which turns the Earth in a planet-sized prison where the rich can visit and hunt down inmates as a form of Safari. There really is an abundance of quality on display here, and the brilliance of the anthology format is that if one story doesn’t quite work for you, it is over in a few pages and another one starts immediately. David Hailwood has done a tremendous job building this anthology up over the past three years, and it thoroughly deserves a wider fanbase to enjoy each issue. My advice, pick up the most recent issues (Issues 15 & 16) and experience some of the best science-fiction storytelling outside of 2000AD!
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100% Biodegradable has published sixteen volumes so far, with roughly 30 – 36 pages of content in each edition. Aside from a few multi-part storylines, the majority of each digital comic can be read in any order and is best enjoyed with a warm cup of tea and a chocolate hobnob. There has also been some collected editions (also available in print) which acculminates the best stories in a handy cost-effective compendium. Individual issues are available for purchase via Comixology, Comicsy and Drive-Thru Comics, whereas the print copies of the collections can be purchased via Drive-Thru Comics.
More details can be found at the publisher’s website, Biomekazoik Comics, where potential contributors can submit work for future editions. They also have a Facebook page, which you can follow for more information about the publication and release dates.