Saturday, February 18, 2017

1977: A Madman Turns 40: 2017- Day 49

First edition of 2000 AD
   Though the cover was dated for February 26th, today marks the 40th anniversary of the British sci-fi comic magazine 2000 AD. Growing up I was allowed to read any comic book I wanted except for this one, Heavy Metal, and anything listed in the adults only box at the local comics shop Tales Resold. But over the past decade, I've gotten my hands on some issues and I must say I enjoyed them. 

    2000 AD was where many great British comic book writers and artists got their start. Talents like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Brian Bolland, and Grant Morrison gained international fame working on the publication. But if 2000 AD is known for anything, it's this- Judge Dredd.

Alan Moore- Acclaimed Writer
of Rasputin cosplayer... you decide.

    Judge Dredd appeared in the title's second issue or Prog (which is short for Program.) The authoritarian look at life in an overcrowded metropolis won over fans, appalled critics, and soon became English slang for a police state. 

2000 AD's most famous character, Judge Joseph Dredd.

     2000 AD was edgy, violent, and just want the punk movement needed. Published weekly, it quickly became a sort of manifesto for the anti-establishment crowd which is ironic because Judge Dredd is the ESTABLISHMENT! But the die was cast as the alienated tone of punk rock was embraced by many of the writers of this series well into the late 80s, especially the work of Morrison and Moore. 
My favorite 2000 AD alum, Neil Gaiman.

     When 2000 AD was first published it was owned by IPC Magazines. Over the next two decades, the title was purchased by Robert Maxwell and Edmont UK. When the book first came out, it was in black and white and published like an over-sized tabloid magazine. Nowadays, the book is a mere shell of itself. Published in stark color and reduced to the size of a general comic book to save cost and appeal to readers. Fans liken these changes to when National Lampoon stopped publishing nude women and foul language in their pages after being bought out by a subsidiary in the late 80s. It was like a neutered dog- still feisty but missing a real passion to it's bite. 

A 2016 issue of 2000 AD.
It doesn't seem quite so grim and gritty anymore...

    Time (and sales) will only tell if 2000 AD will make it another 40 years or become another classic sci-fi comic title relegated to bargain bins worldwide and otherwise forgotten. 

    Until tomorrow...


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