2000AD … a novice writes…

Published On February 26, 2012 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews, The Weekly 2000AD

Looking back on my life I’ve only ever bought 2000AD in comic form a couple of times. First there were odd progs on family holidays when I was a lad, and then there was the time Grant Morrison and Mark Millar took over the mag for 1993′s summer offensive revamp. I’ve read the classic stuff of course, but that’s all been in collected form. But me and 2000AD in Prog form…. we just never really got it together.

But being involved with the FPI blog over the years it’s nagged at me that I have no connection with something so key to UK comics history. And not just history; over the past year  or so, it’s been increasingly apparent that a lot of people are saying just how good the mag has been.

So with that in mind, and with all the celebrations around the 35th anniversary issue, there seemed to be an unstoppable momentum pulling me into the local newsagents……. which is why I found myself this anniversary weekend settling down with the latest couple of Progs, a novice reader giving this whole 2000AD thing a good go….

I certainly wasn’t expecting to be immediately au fait with what was going on, and seeing as I joined the fun with Prog 1770 and the 35th anniversary prog of 1771, with most of the strips in the middle of multi-parters, I found myself merely the interested observer at this early stage. However, the quick summaries on the inside front covers were a great help in giving me the background I needed.

Dredd is still Dredd of course, this time round dealing with the threat of Sov terrorists in Dreed-like fashion. Ben Wilsher’s art reminds me at times of Steve Yeowell, no bad thing, and there was a cracking surfer moment in prog 1771. Nice stuff, a classic done well.

Grey Area seemed lightweight to be honest, with a one off story in 1770, seemingly designed all around the final panel punchline. Get to the next prog though and we’re at the start of a new storyline, setting up a nice bit of spaceship tension. Lee Carter’s art doesn’t work for me, a little too reliant on flashy effects, and not enough concentrating on basics like figure work. So a maybe at best.

Nikolai Dante was the furthest along of the strips, and dropping in at part 8 should have left me struggling to work out what was going on. But Robbie Morrison’s script and Simon Fraser’s lovely artwork got me up and running really quickly. I’ve heard lots of good things about Dante, and what I’ve read so far supports that; fun action adventuring.

On a first flick through Absalom was the strip that most intrigued, with great black and white artwork from Tiernen Trevallion. But it’s also the one that disappointed most, with a storyline that confused, too many nondescript characters, too much confusion first time round. But I’m determined not to judge too early on, give it time, give it time…. oh, the episode in Prog 1771 is the end of the storyline. I’ll just leave it then.

Strontium Dog is another character I’m familiar with, and it was great to see Carlos Ezquerra’s artwork once more (assisted by son Hector). Together with John Wagner, they construct something I got into, enjoyed and look forward to more.

And the 35th Anniversay Prog 1771 had two special What If? features, both seeing possible returns of two old characters… The Visible Man by Pat Mills and Henry Flint:

… and Andy Diggle and the great Colin Wilson delivering a return (maybe) of Rogue Trooper:

Okay, so The Visible Man was a fun, beautifully drawn thing, but essentially filler. And Rogue Trooper rocked just to see that gorgeous Wilson artwork. Storywise I had little idea of what was going on.

Overall, there’s part of me knows any attempt to get into 2000AD will take a fair number of weeks whilst I get into the rhythms and flow of the continuing strips, losing some I don’t like, starting some from the beginning. So if I say it was a fun yet frustrating thing, you’ll hopefully understand why. But I’m in now, and I’m going to give it a good shot.

Having said that, what I’ve read so far certainly didn’t disappoint completely, Dredd, Strontium Dog and Nikolai Dante impressed, some of the artwork was great, some not so much. But you know, this weekly slice of the Galaxy’s greatest comic is a fun thing. There’s a thrill about going down to the newsagent every Wednesday to pick up the latest, and so far it’s delivered, if not a thrill power overload, then certainly a fair slice of thrill, some confusion, and a lot of promise.

See you in a few weeks for another “how I’m doing with 2000AD” post.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

4 Responses to 2000AD … a novice writes…

  1. Stick with it! Anthologies are great – and the basis of British comics – you may not like everything in it, but what you do enjoy will make it all worth while!

  2. Matt Badham says:

    Quick statement of potential conflict of interest: I write on a freelance basis for the House of Tharg. (Features for the Judge Dredd Megazine.)

    Anyway…

    The thing about anthologies is that they are, by their nature, hit and miss.

    A good anthology should have stories you don’t like because it should have variety. And it’s very hard (impossible… ?) to get the ‘Perfect Prog’.

    Having said that, in 2011 I think I can honestly say that 2000 AD has come close to that on many occasions.

    Hope you stick with the Prog, Richard. Once you’re settled in, I think you’ll enjoy it.

    Also, give Grey Area a bit of time. My take is that it’s a classic ‘old skool’ thrill (in a good way) in the making.

    A ‘popcorn movie’ with brains.

  3. Matt Badham says:

    Oh, and Absalom is good too. Don’t think your entry point was ideal for that strip. Rennie and Trevallion used the first series to really set up the characters. It’s a bit of an ensemble piece and reading just the last episode is not the best way to get into it. (As you yourself note.)

    (This all reads like Tharg bunged me a fiver to write these comments, doesn’t it? LOL)

    Oh, and if you like the artwork, more loveliness here:

    http://tiernentrevallion.co.uk/

  4. Emilija says:

    Good post! Very informative!