London’s Orbital Comics – the UK’s one and only Eisner Award-winning comic shop – is currently hosting what sounds like it could be an extremely dull and pretentious look at 2000AD. “Beyond 2000AD – The Broader Cultural Impact of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic” certainly sounds like the theme of a comics dissertation, after all.
But fear not! Twee this is not.
In the limited space available, Orbital have produced their most jam-packed exhibition ever. Normally you “just” get maybe 20-25 boards of original art on the wall to look at (as if that wasn’t enough). This time, however, the exhibition space is crammed full of 2000AD art and artefacts, looking at both 2000AD’s progenitors and its offspring.
This small exhibition begins a glimpse at issues of comics like Rocket, POW, TV Century 21 and Countdown that set the sci-fi scene for 2000AD to burst onto in 1977. Amazing items like Brett Ewin’s Tharg clock gaze down on you from on high (next to some original IPC original advertising artwork).
It’s then a gallop though the early years of 2000AD – rare t-shirts adorn the walls, original Judge Dredd art is displayed, there’s a selection of Dredd merchandise as well as exclusive limited edition prints. And an issue of Class War with a DR & Quinch cover – that’s a broad cultural impact from the comic that brought you the nation’s favourite fascist policeman.
We then squeeze in some foreign Dredd reprint material, that perennial favourite album covers – including the Ron Smith cover for Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s Albinoni vs Star Wars, released in 1989, some Anthrax, some Fink Brothers and even some V for Vendetta.
2000AD’s offspring are then squeezed (but only because space is tight and there are a lot of them) into the final segment – and here we find issues of Crisis, Revolver, Deadline, Strip, Vertigo comics, Alan Moore, Watchmen and plenty more for your viewing pleasure.
• Published in print and digital every Wednesday, 2000AD is the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic and remains at the industry’s cutting edge Web: www.2000ADonline.com
• Orbital Comics: www.orbitalcomics.com
Richard Sheaf is a longtime contributor to downthetubes and has written for numerous magazines about British comics.