In Review: Future Shock! 40 Years of 2000AD – Cartoon Museum Exhibition

Future Shock! 40 Years of 2000AD - Poster

The 2000AD 40th Anniversary exhibition is open now at London’s Cartoon Museum – and Richard Sheaf was at the opening night…

The idea to hold a 2000AD exhibition at London’s Cartoon Museum came about 12 months ago when Steve Marchant realised that the 40th anniversary was coming up. The Museum staff were convinced a tie-in exhibition was a great idea and publisher Rebellion were approached.

Fast forward 12 months to a cold evening in January and the gallery is awash with original artwork, fans, creators, collectors, former Tharg’s who’ve been lucky enough to secure a ticket to the private viewing.

2000AD fans enjoying the Future Shock! anniversary exhibition at London's Cartoon Museum on its opening night
2000AD fans enjoying the Future Shock! anniversary exhibition at London’s Cartoon Museum on its opening night

Future Shock! 40 Years of 2000AD - Art

Future Shock! 40 Years of 2000AD - Halo Jones

Early on in the planning for the exhibition, the decision was taken that there would not be a focus on particular artists, characters or eras.  Instead, the emphasis is on celebrating the breadth and depth of talent who have worked for Tharg over the last 40 years.

So bearing that in mind, if you go down to the Cartoon Museum today you can see art by… Ron Smith, Massimo Belardinelli, Joan Boix, Ron Turner, Mike McMahon, Carlos Ezquerra, Cam Kennedy, Chris Weston, Brett Ewins, Ian Gibson, John M. Burns, Henry Flint, Garry Leach, Steve Dillon, Brian Bolland, Romero, Mark Harrison, John Higgins, David Roach, Kev O’Neill, John Hinckleton, Henry Flint, Bryan Talbot, Carl Critchlow, Simon Fraser, Greg Staples, Charlie Adlard, Dave Taylor, Simon Davis, Glenn Fabry and David Pugh.

Exhibition organiser Steve Marchant (centre, in grey) at the launch of Future Shock! 40 Years of 2000AD
Exhibition organiser Steve Marchant (centre, in grey) at the launch of Future Shock! 40 Years of 2000AD
2000AD's head of PR Michael Molcher (far left, with beard), holds court
2000AD’s head of PR Michael Molcher (far left, with beard), holds court
2000AD's Ben Smith
2000AD’s Ben Smith

That’s an impressive list of artists, but given the space restrictions in the gallery space it means that at most you get five  pieces of original art by a particular artists, but the list of characters covered by those artists is long and impressive.

A quick count of the art on display gives you about 90 pieces in total, of which about one third are Dredd related. But you also get Halo Jones, Dan Dare, Mach 1, Flesh, Harlem Heroes, Inferno, Rogue Trooper, Bad Company, the Stainless Steel Rat, The VCs, ABC Warriors, Sam Slade, Strontium Dog, Nemesis the Warlock, Judge Anderson, Nikolai Dante, Tyranny Rex, Savage, Missionary Man and Slaine.

Some of the boards are from very early progs – there’s a “Dan Dare” double page spread from Prog Four and “Flesh” from Prog Nine, for instance. Where a number of creators have been involved in a particular character, there’s also been an effort made to show the different versions of that character – so the “Dan Dare” section has original art by Belardinelli, Dave Gibbons, Garry Leach and (from the aborted 1980s TV show) and a McCarthy/ Ewins/ Bolland page.

Future Shock! 40 Years of 2000AD - Slaine
Slaine art on display

Despite all that there wasn’t enough room to accommodate all the art that was loaned to the exhibition so (hopefully!) the plan is that at least some of the left-overs will be displayed in the first floor gallery section that is Steve Marchant’s natural habitat!

All in all then this exhibition is a great start to the 40th anniversary celebrations – all 2000AD fans should find plenty to admire here and even those like me who (shock horror!) never read 2000AD can find plenty to get their teeth into.

While it‘s invidious to try and pick out favourite items personally I enjoyed seeing some of John M Burn’s great, colourful “Nikolai Dante” spreads and some of the artwork for “Slaine” was just breath-taking (again, a good selection of artists were represented – some I was familiar with, others were new to me.

Future Shock! 40 Years of 2000AD - Poster SMALL• Future Shock! 40 Years of 2000AD runs at the Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH until 23rd April 2017.

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All photos © Richard Sheaf

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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