'NO! Please let me drown BEFORE the GIANT SCORPIONS get to me!'
August 25, 2009 6:32 AM   Subscribe

When the future was 2000AD by Garth Ennis. Thrill-power invested illustrative examples courtesy of Simon Gurr.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (37 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Man, we used to sit around reading piles of 2000AD/Judge Dredd comics. I can still remember some of the plots and illustrations (Jigsaw Disease!), 20+ years after the fact. Thanks for posting this, as I'm now going to spend the remainder of the morning in misty nostalgia.

(post nostalgic wikipedia-ing) not 200AD, but they really re-published all the American Flagg stuff into a two-volume trade?!? This is really all too much. Sorry for the derail.
posted by jquinby at 7:08 AM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

My eldest brother used to get this comic every week. I ignored it for years and years and years because the pictures didn't really appeal to me and so I thought the stories would be rubbish (Dandy and Beano for me at that age). Then for some reason I read a Future Shocks story, and it was fantastic. I really liked the density of thought to story, as you didn't have to sit through several progs of violence to get something interesting. I went through my brother's collection and read every single one I could find, as well as some other stories which seemed to be in a similar vein.

I think that was the only time I read that comic. I did try reading the rest of 2000AD, but apart from a couple of stories involving PJ Maybe, I can't recall anything else that grabbed my attention.
posted by Sova at 7:13 AM on August 25, 2009

Jigsaw Disease screwed me up as a kid... "The Judge Child is Evil! Evil!" plop!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:14 AM on August 25, 2009

Every 2000ad cover ever, including Prog 93: "NO! Please let me drown BEFORE the GIANT SCORPIONS get to me!"

Wow, Garth Ennis really does love this stuff. Which is great, because I do too.

A lot of the older stuff is available in chunky phonebook style volumes - all of them are fantastic (and as they were blackand white to begin with they actually look a lot better that the black and white collections of US stuff,which can be a little sparse) I particularly recommend Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 05, which includes Blockmania and the whole of the Apocalypse War.
posted by Artw at 7:21 AM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I was lucky growing up on the Gulf Coast in the South because our local comic store was owned and operated by a British expat. He made sure to order plenty of copies of the Eagle Comics color reprints of all the 2000AD stuff, so the first time I read the Apocalypse War it was in those reprints. Normally I'd be against the colorizing of B&W comics but seeing as how 2000AD was B&W because of cost issues, it wasn't a big deal. In fact, those colorized versions of the Apocalypse War were fantastic because the colors really made some of the epic moments even more mind blowing.

Dave (the owner of Gulf Coast Comics in Biloxi) also ordered import copies of 2000AD and I bought as many as my meager allowance could allow. I would take them to middle school and all the other kids would be amazed that I had found these gems. Many of the stories that were one-offs like Shocking Futures or Time Twisters would have put some episodes of Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits to shame...especially the ones written by Alan Moore. I think I was way more impressed at the time by his stuff in 2000AD over Swamp Thing because I was young but still, at least I knew pure raw talent in a writer when I saw it, even at such a tender age.

I loved the other main characters as much as Judge Dredd...The Stainless Steel Rat, Rogue Trooper, Slaine, Strontium Dog..they were all great. But there was one series of stories that really took my little adolescent brain, dismantled it, scrambled all the synapses, and then rebuilt it into a frankenstein's monster of a thinking organ that seemed to be able to perceive that which had once been unimaginable...the amazing Nemesis the Warlock by the great Pat Mills and the fantastic Kevin O'Neill. Nemesis was unlike ANYTHING I was reading from American comic publishers. The hype-stylized art was freakishly grotesque and beautifully intricate at the same time. The story lines were meant to be taken in quick big bites of fast paced action all within the framework of a demonic hellraising rebel constantly sending a symbolic "F-YOU!!!" to the evil fascist tool of the state, Torquemada. Still one of my favorite comic series of the 80's and also of all time. That stuff didn't need coloring. The black and white art was PERFECT for the series.

Yeah, 2000AD was one of my most beloved things ever because so few people in my area knew what it was about, I sort of felt like it was mine and that I was one of the first of my generation in the U.S. to "discover" it. I know that was a bit short sighted but when you are 13 years old, that actually means a hell of a lot to you.
posted by GavinR at 7:57 AM on August 25, 2009 [2 favorites]

I lived in Bath for a year when I was 10, in 1978, and discovered 2000AD. 31 years later, I can remember every story I read in it, and the terror that resulted. I was weirdly obsessed with Shako, the story of a polar bear that the army was after for swallowing a capsule. There was all sorts of bear mayhem that I found especially disturbing, and, therefore, fascinating. I had coincidentally also gotten a novelization of the movie Prophecy, so my year in England was really my year of bear terror.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:10 AM on August 25, 2009

Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper FTW in my book. I've still got The Torso from Newcastle stuck in my head as a great character. The density of the visual images, especially in Judge Dredd, is something that I just don't see in many comics nowadays (granted, I don't read many either). 30 years later, and I still can feel that Friday excitement going to the newsagents to get my copy!
posted by conifer at 8:14 AM on August 25, 2009

My parents brought me back a copy of Eagle (along with a couple of Beano and Dandy hardback annuals) from a trip to England when I was about 10 or 11. What struck me was how absolutely grotesque all the characters were. Compared to the clean-cut preppies populating my beloved DC comics, all the Brit characters seemed sweaty, and scared, and angry.

It was actually pretty disturbing for my little sissy self.
posted by joelhunt at 8:18 AM on August 25, 2009

I need to know how a body who has never read any 2000AD can go about getting himself into these books. Are there TPBs for all the issues, or what? I've been meaning to read this thing for years.
posted by shmegegge at 8:18 AM on August 25, 2009

also, I want that scorpion cover as a poster. no shit.
posted by shmegegge at 8:18 AM on August 25, 2009

Here you go shmegegge, but they are usually big volumes and don't come that cheap...check Amazon and you can usually find them for decent prices, except for the ones out of print in the U.S., which is a shame.
posted by GavinR at 8:30 AM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

I always thought that Rogue Trooper would make a fantastic movie, and wonder why it never happened. Then I think of all of the great Judge Dredd stories from the comic, and wonder why they were ignored and replaced with of a pile of steaming yak turds when that movie was made. So maybe it's better that Rogue is left alone. But it could be so good.

GavinR Nemesis was unlike ANYTHING I was reading from American comic publishers.

And yeah, Nemesis was out there, completely different from anything else in the mainstream at the time.
posted by Jakey at 8:47 AM on August 25, 2009

Ah, yes. I hauled the first few hundred progs over from my mum's to California a few years ago. Reading them I find Dredd, RoboHunter, some Future Shocks, ABC Warrior have stood the test of time. Most of the others are skippable. But RoboHunter ... I went out and bought the TPBs. They're just packed with excellence.
posted by mdoar at 8:50 AM on August 25, 2009

Shako, the story of a polar bear that the army was after for swallowing a capsule

This also featured the best character name in the history of comics, possibly of everything evah... Buck Dollar
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:23 AM on August 25, 2009

Ah yeah. My local dealer would get a single issue of each prog. It seemed to be for him to read and me to buy. Great stuff, although Americans were starting to break out with First comics (American Flagg, Badger, etc.) so it didn't seem completely off the tracks to an American fan.

Be Pure. Be Vigilant. Behave.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:26 AM on August 25, 2009

First was great, but it still was nothing like some of the groovy outlandishness of some of the 2000 AD stuff. Plus, in the U.S. a publisher like First was pretty much stuck being sold via comic book and other specialty shops. What amazes me is that 2000 AD was mainstream. Sometimes in North America you'd get a rare off shoot in Marvel like Killraven, but it still was nothing like what was going on in the U.K. and I felt we were missing out on a lot of good stuff in America. Later D.C. would widen the gates and create the Vertigo imprint which housed a lot of work by people who started over at 2000 AD. It was still not the same, though.
posted by GavinR at 9:46 AM on August 25, 2009


Yeah, the distribution thing is really the difference. When I was a kid you could get comics from the spiny rack at the corner store. By that point (early eighties?) it was pretty much comic shops or nothing. American comics seemed to have chased the highest short-term return into an isolated niche, and stayed there until graphic novels started to take off in Barnes & Noble or whatnot.

And I will put up Badger or Flagg as equivalent examples of 'groovy outlandishness.' Excepting against Nemesis. That shit was just off the hook.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:02 AM on August 25, 2009

I was the only kid in Roseburg, Oregon to ask the comic shop there (the only one, at the time) to order me in a monthly* dose of 2000AD madness. I was into Martial Law and Wolverine and the odd marvel title back then, but nothing I could get my jittering hands on was anywhere near as lush and imaginative as what I read every time I opened a new issue of 2000AD. Bizarre and gorgeous and thoughtful and exciting - 2000AD both ruined me for 'regular' comics, and became my personal mythology during a very, very dismal time in my life.

MUAH! Kisses to you, 2000AD!

*that's as often as I could get to the shop. Even walked there once from where I lived - took me all day, but by God I wasn't missing out on what was up with Strontium Dog or Rogue Trooper.
posted by Pecinpah at 10:35 AM on August 25, 2009

Looks like the official site just had a major overhaul.

Oh look, it's me!
posted by Artw at 3:52 PM on August 25, 2009 [1 favorite]

Until it ultimately went off the boil (probably at the time of the exodus of Bolland, McMahon and co.) 2000AD's only problem was that it was an embarrassment of riches. It rendered everything else as just dumb and lifeless: when the glory days were over, there seemed nowhere to go, aside from the odd sparkle from the hell-to-get-hold-of Marshal Law or odd obscurities like The Last American. Only The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has, for me, managed to capture 2000AD's early wit and anarchy on any kind of scale.

Us Brits have a firm tradition for ignoring our comics geniuses (Ken Reid being a sadly prime example), but if I had my way, Pat Mills would have a statue, five miles tall, looming directly over Kings Reach Tower.
posted by specialbrew at 3:04 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

wait, ArtW, you wrote for 2000AD?
posted by shmegegge at 6:13 AM on August 26, 2009

god damn, why is metafilter so fucking COOL?
posted by shmegegge at 6:15 AM on August 26, 2009

We really had it good in those days. 2000AD was on the back of Action. And then Starlord came out. Which I defected to... being only allowed one comic a week.

In many ways we just took this for granted, although the other side always looks different. I can distinctly remember reading my first American comic bought from seedy backstreet newsagent. It seemed to from a very strange and exotic world. Not least because it was Batman and my only previous exposure to that was the old camp TV series shown every Saturday morning. Which didn't really have the same the tone... The cover is burned into my memory - The Riddler holding up a burnt and tattered bat-cloak and hood and screaming: "I killed Batman! And here's the evidence.... what's left of him!"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:44 AM on August 26, 2009

Until it ultimately went off the boil (probably at the time of the exodus of Bolland, McMahon and co.) 2000AD's only problem was that it was an embarrassment of riches.

Well, I might be a bit prejudiced on this (see above) but I think 2000ad is pretty strong at the moment. It’s certainly bounced back considerably since it’s horrible slump in the 90s. Some of that’s the same talent – Wagner is still going strong, but there’s also new guys like Simon Spurrier and the utterly fantastic Al Ewing.

It’s pricier than the good old days, and has less readers, and those readers are a bit older – but hey, that’s comics in general for you.

The current issue, 1650, seems to be a bit of a jumping on point, with all new storylines starting this week. It might be worth picking up if you want to see what 2000ad is like these days.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on August 26, 2009

Despite being a comic book dork of long standing, before this post I'd never heard of the phrase THRILL POWER.

I will now work it into daily conversation. Such a phrase deserves no less.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 1:41 PM on August 26, 2009

Thrill Power Overload, a history of 2000ad by one-time editor Dave Bishop, might be worth picking up for those interested in the early days of the comic.
posted by Artw at 1:53 PM on August 26, 2009

Actually, I do agree that the Rebellion years have been a real attempt at a return to form - seeing McMahon return now and again has been a joy and I have indeed bought the odd copy now and again. My only wish is that 2000AD could be once again aimed squarely at the bright 11 year old: I always felt this was a 'constraint' that actually honed its satire and would perhaps help it find a new audience. The 'mature' Bisley-era was probably necessary (just in terms of keeping the title afloat), but now I really do feel that there is a market for a young-teen SF comic... although its content now is largely appropriate, 2000AD isn't really marketed as this and I would speculate Rebellion are missing out.
posted by specialbrew at 2:03 PM on August 26, 2009

Yeah, that's kind of a trap that comics as a whole are in.
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on August 26, 2009

I will now work it into daily conversation. Such a phrase deserves no less.

Don't forget Zarjazz, Scrotnig and Borag Thungg, Earthlet!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:45 PM on August 26, 2009

I just had a ganders at Ennis's flickr set and, once again, I'm utterly stunned by McMahon's Slaine work. Although I've got a few heroes (Giraud, Hugo Pratt, Druillet), I'd say his (all too brief) Slaine stint proved a certain kind of unmatchable genius.

Artw, although I also think it is an all too common trap, do you feel in your experience as a writer that it is unassailable?
posted by specialbrew at 2:57 PM on August 26, 2009

It’s as much an editorial, marketing and above all pricing thing as it is a writing thing.

Speaking purely for myself I can’t say I’ve ever thought to whether I’m writing something that would appeal to a young kid versus a teenager versus a thirtyfour year old software developer- mainly I just write them for me. I like to think if an 11 year old me picked it up he’d like it, I don’t know if he’d “get” it all quite the same way a teenage me would. There’s nothing that would particularly exclude that age range, maybe the odd swear or booby, and the number of decapitations and explosions would be something I would find most satisfying.

When the 86ers, a Rogue Trooper spin off I wrote part of and which is probably going to be the highpoint of my comics career for some time, was collected I sent a copy of it to a friends 11 year old kid, and I think they’ll enjoy it, if they read it. ‘course, that’s a big if given all the other things 11 year olds are into these days. I’ll be super chuffed if they do, especially if it leaves stuff lying around in their head the way the earlier stuff did with Garth.

Of course, then you get the odd strip like Cradlegrave, which is thoroughly creepy and nasty and would probably freak your 11 year old out entirely… but I wouldn’t dream of denying it it’s place in the comic. And if it did get excluded for the sake of a hypothetical eleven year old who probably isn’t going to read the comic anyway then it’d weaken the comic with no real advantage.
posted by Artw at 3:23 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also check out Al Ewing's stuff. If there's anyone who's going to turn 2000ad around, get that old school feeling while at the same time writing something that today's eleven year old is going to dig, it would have to be Al.
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on August 26, 2009

I'll certainly have a look at the 86ers. Sometimes I wonder if 2000AD - or rather a spin-off Rebellion title - would be more marketable in a manga format. By that, I don't mean carrying the manga aesthetic, but literally the physical dimensions and in black and white too (with maybe the odd colour splash). It could still be an anthology but monthly, with the stories in longer - and perhaps more satisfying - installments. In this way, it would be newsagent-friendly (those worth their salt still carry Commando, for example) and would also have a further life in bookshops without having to go to the expense of re-formatting and re-packaging: I can quite easily see a section of a bookshop's manga space being occupied by an ongoing 2000AD-related title.
posted by specialbrew at 1:51 AM on August 27, 2009

oh man, my favorite thing about reading british comics is wondering whether or not people actually curse that way, or if these are the sort of fake curses that sci-fi, fantasy and comics are famous for.

for instance: does anyone actually call anyone a gobshite, in britain? inquiring minds want to know.
posted by shmegegge at 12:53 PM on August 27, 2009

Yup. As in one who talks shite through their gob.
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on August 27, 2009

Discover The Origins Of 2000AD - For Free
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on September 13, 2009

« Older Papercraft Keyboard Cat   |   There Will Be Blood Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments