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Army veteran’s 2000 AD comic dream is realised, four months after his death

PUBLISHED: 11:15 16 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:15 16 September 2016

Jake Lynch, left and Stewart Perkins, 48, in 1999, when 1999 when Stewart won the National Comic Award

Jake Lynch, left and Stewart Perkins, 48, in 1999, when 1999 when Stewart won the National Comic Award

Archant

An army veteran and comics fan is to have the character he created immortalised in print, four months after his death.

Harry Heston apears on the cover of Judge Dredd. He was created by  Stewart Perkins, 48, of Wymondham, who died in May, 2016, and his friend, Jake Lynch.Harry Heston apears on the cover of Judge Dredd. He was created by Stewart Perkins, 48, of Wymondham, who died in May, 2016, and his friend, Jake Lynch.

As a life-long fan of legendary weekly comic 2000 AD, Stewart Perkins, 48, of Wymondham, was looking forward to fulfilling his dream of seeing Harry Heston, an ape-Judge character he created in the 1990s with friend Jake Lynch, finally appear in an official Judge Dredd story.

But Mr Perkins died suddenly of a heart attack in May while working in Norway with the United States Air Force.

Next week, 2000 AD’s publisher, Rebellion will publish the story that Mr Perkins never got to see in its sister title Judge Dredd Megazine.

Based at RAF Lakenheath, Mr Perkins – known to fellow 2000 AD fans as ‘W.R. Logan’ – was a popular army cadets instructor as well as a veteran of the Queen’s Own Hussars.

Harry Heston apears on the cover of Judge Dredd. He was created by  Stewart Perkins, 48, of Wymondham, who died in May, 2016, and his friend, Jake Lynch.Harry Heston apears on the cover of Judge Dredd. He was created by Stewart Perkins, 48, of Wymondham, who died in May, 2016, and his friend, Jake Lynch.

His partner, Deborah Ward, said: “About a year ago, Stewart burst through the front door, with a big grin on his face. Jake had just emailed over the first draft of the new Heston story and Stewart loved it.

“Many emails had gone back and forth since that day, and I remember Stewart proudly telling my friends about the forthcoming publication. I confess it was rather lost on them but no-one could resist getting swept along with his enthusiasm.

“Enjoy the strip and raise a glass to W.R. Logan, doing us proud yet again.”

During the late 1980s and early 1990s Mr Perkins served with the Queen’s Own Hussars, a cavalry regiment of the British Army, and later he spent many years volunteering with the Army Cadet Force as an adult instructor. He had also previously worked for Rebellion, organising the 2000 AD archives.

Mr Perkins’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Judge Dredd history landed him a role advising the character’s co-creator, John Wagner.

This led to stories such as 2006’s Judge Dredd: Origins, which laid out the character’s back-story.

Matt Smith, the editor of 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, said: “Harry’s a great character to add to the world of Judge Dredd and it’s a fitting tribute to one of Judge Dredd’s biggest fans. It’s a shame Stewart never got to see Harry in print, but I’m sure he’d approve.”

Mr Lynch said: “To see our ‘chimp-face’ accepted into the pages of the Megazine was the fulfilling of an ambition both Stewart and I shared.”

Judge Dredd himself first appeared in 1977 in 2000 AD, a weekly anthology of science-fiction stories. He is a ‘street judge’, empowered to summarily arrest, convict, sentence, and execute criminals.

Named after Dirty Harry and Charlton Heston, Mr Perkins and Mr Lynch created the primate enforcer Harry Heston for their Judge Dredd fan comic ‘Class of 1979’.

The comic went onto win a prestigious ‘best self-published/independent comic’ award as part of a UK-wide National Comics Awards in 1999.

Drawn by Mr Lynch, the new story has been written by Judge Dredd writer Arthur Wyatt and is set in Dredd’s post-apocalyptic world 122 years in the future.

In this world, genetic experimentation has given primates human speech and some, such as Mr Perkins’ creation, have even taken the law into their own hands.

Harry Heston is described as a ‘smart-talking gorilla’ who lives in a shanty town outside the crime-ridden metropolis of Mega-City One on the east coast of America.

Modelling himself after the famous Judge Dredd, Heston takes on a gang of muggers but, when they seek revenge, the primate is forced to team up with Dredd to take them down together.

The story will be published in Judge Dredd Megazine #376, which is due to go on sale at newsagents on September 21, as well as digitally from 2000 AD’s online shop.

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