I thought Universal Soldier was a really stromg idea for a comic strip. The premise was that a mercenary has a "Storyge" chip implanted in his brain by the Universal Corporation. The chip contains memories of every type of combat known to Man. When the mercenary found himself in a dangerous situation, the adrenaline rush would trigger the Storyge chip which would select an appropriate combat style and load it into the guy's memory. The visual twist was that if Samurai fighting abilities were triggered, the guy saw himself in feudal Japan fighting another Samurai. Though we did another couple of series of Universal Soldier, it was never the hit I thought it would be. I also thought it'd make a pretty good action movie ...
Anyway, time and 2000AD waits for no Earthlet, so I was quickly involved in a new writing project with the provisional title, "The Beast". My plan was to do a story about a boy magician set in the early 1960s and offer it to 2000AD's stablemate, Eagle Comic. But when I showed the story to editor Richard Burton, he thought it would fit just fine in 2000AD. I spent a couple of weeks writing up the script while we racked our brains trying to think of a suitable artist.
It was a few weeks down the line when the title was changed to Summer Magic (the Journal of Luke Kirby series title didn't appear until the second story) and we settled on John Ridgway as the artist. Ridgway had the luxury, seldom afforded comic strip artists, of having the entire seven episodes, with everything in place, to work from. Even the narrative voice, actually Luke as an adult remembering what had happened all those years ago, was in the script from the outset.
The first episode appeared in Prog 571, 23rd April 1988. Which means the series predated both "Harry Potter" and the tv show The Wonder Years, which I always thought the Luke Kirby series quite resembled.
What I liked about Luke Kirby is that it's a story about children for grown-ups and, of course, as I never signed an Assignment of Copyright contract with Fleetway/Egmont, the character format belongs to me.
I had always planned that Luke would grow up in real time as his story unfolded, but after a dispute with the publishers about my owning the copyright, the character went into limbo. Still copyright law is on my side, so who knows ..?
More to come, soon ...