2000AD: Where Are They Now?
Warning – this post is really only for the nerdiest of comic nerds. If that’s not you, look away now. Here’s a link to one of my favourite sites, The Oatmeal, for some funnies.
Despite the underlying fact that print media circulations are flatlining everywhere you look, it’s British comic 2000AD’s 2000th issue this week. In fact it’s the comic’s 40th anniversary next year (register for the fan event in London here), a huge milestone for what is still regarded as a niche publication by many retailers. I actually can’t buy it locally, in either of two otherwise well-stocked newsagents.
If you’ve never heard of 2000AD, it’s best known for being the home of Judge Dredd, the centrepiece strip, which was made into one shocker of a film featuring Stallone – and another, more recent and actually very decent film, featuring Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey (Cersei from Game of Thrones).
The point of 2000AD was that by comparison to the relative purity and two-dimensional simplicity of other children’s comics at the time, it was quite radically subversive, often dark in tone and, simply put, better brain-food than the happy world of Roy of the Rovers. I absolutely loved it – and consequently it’s something I’ve read on-and-off since I was in short shorts.
Perhaps what is most extraordinary about the earliest years of 2000AD is the creative talent that it assembled – not least if you look at the impact that those creators have made on US comic culture – and indeed global culture generally.
Although it wasn’t something that the seven year old me would have registered, the comic was undoubtedly skewed towards white, male creators – the gender imbalance element of which is touched upon by Leah Moore in the excellent documentary: Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD. Nevertheless, what those guys went on to achieve is truly staggering.
In no particular order :
Dave Gibbons, artist (Watchmen, Give Me Liberty). His clean, pristine style is unmistakeable and makes reading comics a pleasure.
Brendan McCarthy, artist (Mad Max; Fury Road). His trippy style jumps off the page, whether in black and white, or colour.
Kev O’Neill, artist (Marshall Law, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). Can be tricky to find something of his that’s not in some way offensive. But in a good way. Literally dripping with malicious intent.
Mark Millar, writer (Kick Ass, Kingsman, Wanted, Captain America Civil War). Not a huge fan, but has made an undeniable dent in Hollywood.
Garth Ennis, writer & Steve Dillon, artist (Preacher) – Whilst they do work separately, their co-created Preacher remains my all-time favourite comic book to date (pity about the TV series). Let’s leave The Boys for another day. I love Ennis’ work – but he can have serious off days too.
Grant Morrison, writer (largely responsible for the modern DC comics universe). I loved his work on 2000AD (Zenith!) but I confess that these days I find him to be unnecessarily opaque, with an over-reliance on multiple universes as a catch-all plot device. Consequently, I’m not a fan. Still, it’s hard to deny his enormous impact.
Also, whilst not someone I’d associate with 2000AD specifically and directly, I feel obligated to include Jamie Hewlett, artist (Gorillaz), of whom I’ve been a long time fan, for Tank Girl, back in the days of Deadline, the relatively short-lived spiritual sister of 2000AD.
This list could run on and on. I’ve not included many other favourites, such as Carlos Ezquerra, Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins, Mike McMahon, Massimon Belardinelli, Simon Bisley and Cam Kennedy, who have also each gone on to do other great things.
Congratulations 2000AD, stay subversive and long may you buck the trend of publishing industry decline…