Last month, comics writer Al Ewing (who’s writing a series of increasingly regular reviews and musings for the Travelling Man website) gave the thumbs up to 2000AD, urging readers past and present to give it a try.
With Al’s permission, we’re cross-posting his enthusiastic feature here…
|2000AD 1753 – on sale now|
So! I’ve put this off long enough. Let’s talk about 2000AD – the UK comic that exploded onto the scene in 1977, kickstarting the careers of dozens of top-flight writers and artists, and is still going strong today. I started reading it when I was nine, and – barring a couple of hiccups – I’ve read it ever since. Around ten years ago, I sent them in a five-page horror story. Now I make my entire living from writing of one sort or another. 2000AD has been very good to me.
So excuse me if I get a little evangelical.
Now, there are lots of good reasons for not reading 2000AD. You may, for example, be unable to read, although if you’re reading this I’ll assume that’s not the case. You might dislike the medium of comics in general, although again, if you’re here reading this that’s probably not true. Or, possibly, you might have sustained a terrible head injury that’s destroyed certain parts of your brain with the result that every time you enjoy something you violently defecate all over yourself, your immediate surroundings, and the cat.
These are all excellent reasons not to read 2000AD. However, if you can read, if you like reading comics and if you like enjoying things, you really should try it.
For a start – it’s a deal, it’s a steal, it’s the sale of the century et cetera. If you’re in the UK – or on the internet – it’s cheaper than just about any American comic, and you get more and bigger pages of story. And the savings don’t end there! Because individual episodes are usually around five pages long, there’s literally no room for padding. So you get more story per page compared with your favourite American comic too.
Which all means nothing if the stories aren’t up to scratch – but the quality has been on a consistent high since at least… well, the year 2000 AD. (At this point, the name of the comic is a trusted brand of excellence rather than a far-off future date. It’s an idiosyncracy fans happily turn a blind eye to, like the regular insistences by alien editor Tharg that I – and everyone else who ever worked at 2000AD, including Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Jock, Duncan Fegredo and Chris Weston, to name a few – am in fact a robot.)
|Low Life by Rob Williams and D’Israeli, which started in Prog 1752|
Case in point – the current run of ‘Low Life’, a strip set in the world of Judge Dredd and dealing with Justice Department’s undercover agents. Rob Williams, on script duties, is busy crafting one of the greatest stories of his career, bringing new depth to his great comedic creation Dirty Frank as the undercover Judge explores the underbelly of a future Tokyo in search of a missing fellow officer.
I hope Rob will forgive me for saying that – while I love all his work – ‘Low Life’ is, in my opinion, his best. Every panel – every line of dialogue – is packed with intelligence, life, heart and soul, and any fans of his, or of good writing in general, need to be reading it.
Matt Brooker – alias D’Israeli – is on art chores, and as usual his elegant, emotive, perfectly composed clear-line style knocks every page out of the park. I don’t know why the Big Two aren’t fighting each other in some kind of Octagon for his services, but their loss is 2000AD‘s gain. Words can’t describe how good his art is, so let’s pay a quick visit to his blog, where you’ll find many posts dedicated to his painstaking process – this one is a nice introduction to the kind of beautiful vistas on display in the strip.
That’s one story, out of five. In addition, in the latest crop of stories – the first prog of which, 1750, is available digitally from the 2000AD website, and 1753 is now on sale at the better newsagents, or (cough) at your local Travelling Man – you have top cop and future film sensation Judge Dredd, at the seasoned hands of creator John Wagner and Henry Flint; stiff upper-lipped paranormal investigator Ampney Crucis, by Ian Edgington and Simon Davis; the unfolding mystery of Angel Zero, by Kek-W and John Burns; and the mind-exploding, reality-warping strangeness and charm of Indigo Prime – yes, it’s back at long last – by John Smith and Edmund Bagwell.
And, sooner or later, I’ll be back in the prog myself. But I’m not just shouting 2000AD to the rooftops because I’m in it – I’m promoting it because I love it, because it does astonishing things that other comics can’t, because it fosters incredible talents that other publishers won’t, because week in, week out, after thirty-five years, it’s still the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic.
• Official 2000AD Web Site: www.2000adonline.com
• If you’re a comic creator and would like to write a Guest Post for downthetubes on some aspect of British comics, please get in touch.
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.