Click on a book to access the LOOSE CANNONS comic pages

Book 1: The Pandora Principle

Book 2: Backs to the Future

Book 3: Deep in the Heart of Nowhere

Book 4: The Times they are a Killin'

The Armoury

Mark Harrison's Portfolio

A Brief History of LOOSE CANNONS

by Mark Harrison.

(From PREVIEWS magazine Nov 1993)

"Shipping January 11th. Spotlight on LOOSE CANNONS#1. By Dan Abnett and Mark Harrison"

"This fully-painted four-issue limited series features the first appearance of Loose Cannons , the female wing of the mercenary squad Warheads . Will they survive their first appearance? When they bring their own brand of firepower to a world overrun by propagating insect aliens, the Cannons come back with an unexpected souvenir; a deadly bacterium that horribly deforms any human it touches! What will their bosses do? Why, bottle it, label it "food" and sell it to the starving masses of course! The Loose Cannons then set out to right the wrong they inadvertently brought to the world-but they're not alone in their mission! They're joined by Death's Head II, that loveable android with the killer charisma. Along the way the crew encounters still more insectoid alien hordes, and the Kree, Shi' Ar and Skrull alliance!"

Back in 1993, Marvel UK commissioned Dan Abnett (The Punisher, Legion of Superheroes) to write a four-part mini series that would introduce the Marvel universe to Virago troop, an all female mercenary team, the "LOOSE CANNONS" who with the help of wormhole travel acquire technology and wealth to advance the interests of their shadowy techno mage employers; MyS-Tech. A disastrous mission to a dark, ruined realm, finds them trapped and facing insurmountable hordes of ravenous creatures. Think a dark version of STARGATE meets ALIENS.



I had been working for Marvel UK for a number of months by now, providing cover illustrations for their anthology comic OVERKILL which amongst other things included babes with big guns. One image in particular caught the imagination of Editor-in-Chief Paul Neary. He had been looking for something for me to do; comic strip-wise. I seemed to be the ideal choice.

So began my first comic strip and a year long labour of love that would become LOOSE CANNONS.





"Will they survive their first appearance?"

Unfortunately Marvel UK suffered a crisis in early 1994 (as did most of the comic industry) and was drastically downsized.

In the cull that followed, LOOSE CANNONS was axed half way through the final book, only a month before publication, and after two months of heavy advertising. I had my first wake up call to the cruel reality of the commercial comics world. My first comic strip, and it didn't even see print!

Fortunately the advertising alone gave me a break at 2000 AD where I worked on JUDGE DREDD and then got a regular gig on DURHAM RED (which would eventually see me reunite with Dan Abnett). But LOOSE CANNONS lack of publication would still bug me. I felt that it should be seen in some form. Ego maybe. It was personal. While I was working on book one, my father passed away. I would have liked him to have seen it.

I collected all the artwork together (eventually; Marvel UK didn't exactly "go out of their way" to hand it back) and filed it away hoping one day, maybe... there would be a second chance.

At one point 2000 AD expressed an interest in publishing it, but after some consideration, then Editor Dave Bishop deemed the mix of Marvel copyrighted characters to be too problematic.


If not comics, then maybe the internet.

Reluctant to trust external sources, I had to wait until the technology; an affordable A3 scanner and PhotoShop software became such that I could seriously undertake the idea of presenting LOOSE CANNONS to a wider audience via the Internet. And not just presenting it as it was; as scanned, but at its best. To "digitally re-master" it and also remain faithful to the original painted source. That meant resisting the temptation to add layers of Computer Generated art and generally tinker it to death. No "Greedo shoots first" here.

In January 2004 I started scanning the LOOSE CANNONS pages, dove-tailing the task alongside my paid 2000 AD work. The job of scanning the Imperial and half Imperial size art boards (in as many as
2-6 scans per page/double page spread), joining them, resizing them to the Marvel page format, enhancing the contrast and colour balance (plus adding new lettering) was going to be a considerable undertaking.

A year and a bit later the end result is the new LOOSE CANNONS that looks in every way better than if it had been printed back in 1994.

My thanks to Wakefield Carter for doing a sterling job on the web sites and facilitating a means by which you, the comic fan, can get to see this work. And special thanks to Dan Abnett for the encouragement and working out those missing dialogue pages. When it came to looking for a
new writer and direction for DURHAM RED, I requested Dan based on the great experience I had working on LOOSE CANNONS, which is still my favourite Abnett story. An explosive, non-stop action yarn that looks and reads like a Summer blockbuster. (We even talked of blowing the effects budget when describing scenes!) It's still as current and evoking of those themes and subject matter that it's clearly been influenced by. We still have the ALIENS movies. Running down corridors with guns blasting critters... will that ever go out of fashion? So I think the time is right for LOOSE CANNONS to blast out onto unsuspecting public!

I Hope you agree. ENJOY!

Mark Harrison April 2005


IMPORTANT: The final 11 pages of book 4 were not completed when the title was axed. The remaining 11 pages are represented here by their story boards, to show you how the story would have been concluded.