Wednesday, 22 February 2017

2000 A.D. 40TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL...


Images copyright REBELLION

Hell's teeth!  Has it really been 40 years since 2000 A.D.
landed in newsagents' shops all across Britain?  Yup, sure has.
I must admit that though I took great professional pride in free-
lancing for IPC's top-selling title, it never really appealed to me
as a reader.  I far preferred MARVEL U.K.'s line of weekly
periodicals, short-lived though some of them were.

I probably gave up on 2000 A.D. after #3, the last of the
initial free gift issues.  The comic was too bleak, too negative,
too dystopian for my tastes.  There was nothing about any of the
future scenarios displayed within its pages that was desirable, and
in which any sane and sensible person would want to live.  PAT
MILLS, the creator of the comic, had nothing but disdain (if
not outright contempt) for superheroes, whereas it was my
ambition to become one.  (Haven't given up hope yet.)

The cover of #1, 1977

So 2000 A.D. wasn't for me.  I collected a short run of
issues around 1979, but jumped ship again when it reverted
to cheap newsprint after having enjoyed superior printing for
a while.  I didn't pick it up again until I began freelancing for the
comic at the beginning of 1986, and the only real 'thrill-power'
I ever experienced was seeing my name in print (or getting
paid), as most of the stories failed to impress me.

Oh, they were competent and professional, but trying
just a bit too hard to be 'down wiv the kids', who, it seemed
to me, were attracted to the mag not for any quality of writing,
but for the violence.  (I was once in a newsagent's, when I over-
heard two kids trying to persuade their parents to buy them an
issue.  "It's great - you see people getting their arms and
heads chopped off and being blown to bits!")

The cover of the 'dummy' issue

However, 40 years is 40 years, and I'm glad to see that
2000 A.D. yet survives.  True, it sells nowhere near as many
copies as it did in my day, and I suspect it's being kept going (on
'life-support') more for the potential exploitation in other media
(movies, games, etc.) of its properties, than because of any profit
brought in from the comic itself.  I still have a fond affection for
it though, even if it's more from a former contributor's perspec-
tive than a reader's.  Which is why I made a point of picking
up the 40th Anniversary Special when I saw it today.

I have to be honest - looking through its pages, I don't
feel particularly motivated to read it.  Murky, muddy colour
in the JUDGE DREDD strip, and trying far too hard to be wild
and wacky, but in an embarrassing, 'drunk uncle at a party' way
that doesn't do it any favours.  SLAINE rips off takes inspiration
from the BLACK KNIGHT fight scene in MONTY PYTHON &
The HOLY GRAIL and displays neither wit nor wisdom, serv-
ing only to reinforce the juvenile (if not infantile) humour aspect
that permeated the title many years back, when writers who re-
garded themselves as too good for 'children's' comics started
trying to be clever for their own amusement, and proved
only that they were too far up their own @rses.


It was good seeing JOHNNY ALPHA and DURHAM
RED again, drawn, as in my day, by CARLOS EZQUERRA,
but it felt odd seeing the strip without my lettering.  (After this
post, there's no chance of that ever happening again, eh?)  To
be frank, this issue seems altogether irrelevant and superficial,
and I'd be surprised (though not unhappy) if 2000 A.D. ever
manages to match The DANDY's or The BEANO's 75
year, British record-breaking run.

However, don't let me put you off from joining in the
40th Birthday celebrations - buy a copy today and make up
your own minds.  Then give me hell in the comments section.
"Unleash the dogs of war!"  (But don't dare dirty the
carpet with paw-prints or doggie-poo, understood?)

See?  Even THARG can lie

18 comments:

B Smith said...

So just what are you hoping your superpower will be...?

Kid said...

Superpower? Why think in terms of only one, BS? I want several.

John Pitt said...

Such a pity that you missed out 1980-85, Kidda, I think that this was when the comic was at its very best, in my opinion. But I did enjoy that Strontium Dog / Durham Red / Ronald Reagan story! Ha ha!

Kid said...

And I enjoyed spending the money I was paid for lettering it, JP.

Colin Jones said...

To this day I've still never read a single issue of 2000AD - is it any good ? I was a massive Marvel fan and I don't even remember 2000AD's launch - by the way, last Thursday (Feb 16th) was the 40th anniversary of the final issue of Planet Of The Apes (POTA & Dracula Lives #123). In my opinion 2000AD should have changed its' name to 3000AD in the final week of 1999.

Kid said...

Is it any good? Why not buy a copy today, CJ, and make up your own mind? Some people will tell you the comic is brilliant, others will tell you the opposite (or that it's just 'okay',) so you really have to judge (aha - a pun) for yourself. Who knows - you might love it. As for changing its name, in 1977 the stories were originally set in the 21st century, and were well-established by the time the actual year of 2000 arrived. If they'd changed the name, they'd suddenly have had to move all the characters and concepts into the 22nd century in an 'overnight' move. (And I think most fans of the comic prefer the original title.)

John Pitt said...

Col, I couldn't really recommend jumping on board now. Apart from Dredd, I haven't got a clue what is going on with any of the other stories.
BUT, if you want to read what it was like when I thought that it was at its best, have a look on EBay for any issues of The Best Of 2000AD Monthly and The Complete Judge Dredd Monthly! - These reprints bundled together tons of stories from when it was literally "The Galaxy's Greatest Comic"! These, I cannot recommend highly enough!

TC said...

I've never read an issue of 2000 A.D. itself, although some of the strips (Judge Dredd, Robo Hunter, Strontium Dog) have been reprinted in the US in their own self-titled comic books and trade paperbacks. I was impressed by the artwork, although the dystopian portrayal of the future was downright depressing at times.

The situation with comic book sales in the US is probably very similar to the UK. That is, sales are a fraction of what they once were, and a lot of titles exist just to maintain a copyright, and as IP, to be mined by the parent companies (Disney, Time-Warner) for more profitable media (movies, TV, video games) and merchandising (toys, T shirts).

I would assume that "2000 A.D." was a registered trademark, so maybe changing the title would have been too expensive or impractical.

paul Mcscotty said...

Colin it is pretty good and well worth a read (but it can have its "off weeks").

Like yourself I wasn’t at all impressed with 2000AD when it first came out. I bought the first few issues and consigned the comic to the merger merry-go-round and then comic book oblivion. How wrong was I? I picked up the odd issue after the first year of its publication and it was a different animal, but by then my interest in comics , especially UK comics , was at an all-time low (I only regularly got MWOM out of habit and Conan and handful of indy / underground comics). Around 1981 I picked up a graphic novel collection of Dredd and Rouge Trooper and have to say they were excellent (still have them) but I had long since grown out of buying a weekly comic. I agree with John it really was a top notch comic in the early ‘80s with fantastic art and great / fun stories and inventive characters only to be spoiled by (as you note) rotten paper and printing for large parts of its run. The last few years have seen some lovely art again and good stories and it is one of the few comics I will pick up in newsagents when I feel the need for a wee read. I have even picked up a few collections (ABC Warriors etc) which I really enjoyed, but err I’m not that keen on Judge Dreed (sacrilege)

Kid said...

Dredd never really grabbed me, JP - too one-dimensional and a bit of a fascist. I was the exclusive letterer on Judge Dredd, Lawman of the Future and took a professional pride in that, but all that other Judge Death nonsense was just a big pile of pants.

******

Yup, I'm with you completely on your first two paragraphs, TC, and you may even be right in your third, but I don't know, to be honest.

******

There have been a few good stories over the years, PM, particularly the Futureshocks, but the overall tone of the thing was, as TC notes, too depressing. I prefer to feel cheered after reading a comic, and 2000 A.D. didn't really do that for me. Having said that, as the last British survivor in the line, I hope it goes on forever - even if I'm not buying it.

Warren JB said...

Couldn't agree more about the tone. I tried getting into it a few years ago, but it was just too nihilistic, and seemed contemptuous of anything that didn't agree with that. Trying too hard, in other words. Judge Dredd was actually one of my favourite strips during that window, because it seemed so light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek in comparison to others! That's saying something.

It might not be surprising with Pat Mills as the guiding hand. I'd heard a bit about him by the time I saw a BBC(?) documentary about 2000ad a year or so ago, and he lived up to the hype in his filmed segments. A bitter man who seems to be driven to rage by any kind of norm - like Johnny Rotten meets Victor Meldrew - and fairly egocentric too.

Kid said...

Funnily enough, WJB, the one time I met him, we chatted away quite the thing and he actually seemed a very pleasant fella. Yet, in any interviews with him I've ever seen, he comes across as being, as you say, very bitter. As for Judge Dredd, someone once pointed out (might've been John Byrne, who once drew a Dredd story) that they all seemed to lead up to an obvious punchline. In other words, the stories were only set-ups for a one-liner. Hardly the way to go I'd have thought, but hey - at least the writers were enjoying themselves.

John Pitt said...

Too right he's a fascist and a completely unsympathetic law-enforcer and, at first, I didn't like the character. I mean, busting people for possession of sugar!? But, I gradually got to see dark humour in all of his unreasonableness and when you read the comics with that mindset, you get to enjoy them in the way they were probably meant to be enjoyed!
In simple terms, "Readers - don't take it seriously!"

Kid said...

H'mm, I just couldn't see it as 'dark' humour, JP - 'forced' humour maybe, but too over-the-top for my tastes. However, we're maybe talking about different periods, as I wasn't a regular reader before I became a contributor.

TC said...

In some Dredd stories, the satire and dark humor were obvious enough, and you could clearly see the absurdity of his enforce-the-letter-of-the-law-at-any-cost attitude. Other stories seemed to sympathize with Dredd, and condoned his actions. It was almost as if the writers couldn't make up their minds. Or maybe the ambivalence was intentional.

Kid said...

Or perhaps different writers took different approaches, TC? I remember one of the stories I DID like was about a rat or a cat in an animal laboratory. It was quite touching. Must dig it out again some day.

Peter W said...

SF2 Concatenation has just Tweeted an advance post of a review of the 40th
anniversary event ahead of its summer edition.

Tweet with announcment link here
https://twitter.com/SF2Concat/status/850285471150297088

Kid said...

There you go, Criv-ites - if you're an SF fan, take a look at that link.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...