- 2000 AD (comics)
Infobox comic book title
title = 2000 AD
caption = Cover of the first issue of "2000 AD", 26 February 1977.
schedule = Weekly
ongoing = y
publisher = IPC Magazines, Fleetway Publications,
date = Feb 1977 to present
issues = More than 1,600
SciFi = y
War = y
multigenre = y
Judge Dredd, Tharg the Mighty, Strontium Dog, Rogue Trooper, Nikolai Dante
John Wagner, Alan Grant, Pat Mills, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Ian Edginton, Alan Moore
artists = Mike McMahon,
Carlos Ezquerra, Dave Gibbons, Massimo Belardinelli, Jock, Frank Quitely, Frazer Irving, Dom Reardon, Ian Gibson (artist)
Kelvin Gosnell, Pat Mills, John Wagner
nonUS = y
"2000 AD" is a weekly British
science fiction-oriented comic. As a comics anthologyit serialises a number of separate stories each "prog" and was first published by IPC Magazines in 1977, the first issue dated February 26. IPC, later Fleetway, continued to produce the title until 2000, when it was bought by Rebellion Developments. Due in part to its weekly publication schedule, it is one of only a few comics to surpass 1,600 issues.
It is most noted for its "
Judge Dredd" stories, and has been contributed to by a number of artists and writers who became renowned in the field internationally, such as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Bryan Talbot, Brian Bollandand Mike McMahon.
"2000 AD" has been a successful launchpad for getting
United Kingdomtalent into the larger American comics market, and has also been the source of a number of filmlicences. Unlike earlier weekly titles, "2000 AD" was based on a 6 page strip format. This gave the writers greater opportunity to develop character and meant that the artists had greater scope in designing the layout.
A long-running joke is that the editor of "2000 AD" is
Tharg the Mighty, a green extraterrestrial from Betelgeusewho terms his readers "Earthlets". Tharg uses other unique alien expressions and even appears in his own comic strips. Readers sometimes play along with this: for example, in prog 200 a pair of readers wrote to Tharg claiming that they preferred to be called "Terrans"; the resulting controversy ended in Tharg's accepting a challenge for a duel at a galactic location.
Another running joke is Tharg's supposed use of
robots to draw and write the strips — some of which bear a marked resemblance to actual writers and artists. A fictional reason for Tharg to use mechanical assistance was given when the robots "went on strike" (reflecting real-life industrial actionthat occasionally halted IPC's comics production during the 1970s and 1980s). Tharg wrote and drew a whole issue himself, but when he ran it through the quality-control "Thrill-meter", the device melted down on extreme overload. The offending issue had to be taken away, by blindfolded security guards, to a lead-lined vault where there was no danger of anyone seeing it accidentally.
In December 1975,
Kelvin Gosnell, a sub-editor at IPC Magazines, read an article in the London Evening Standard about a wave of forthcoming science fictionfilms, and suggested that the company might get on the bandwagon by launching a science fiction comic. IPC asked Pat Mills, a freelance writerand editor who had created " Battle Picture Weekly" and "Action", to develop it. Mills brought fellow freelancer John Wagneron board as script adviser and the pair began to develop characters. The then-futuristic name "2000 AD" was chosen as no-one involved expected the comic to last that long, but of course it did.
Mills' experiences with "Battle" and "Action" in particular had taught him that readers responded to his
anti-authoritarianattitudes. Wagner, who had written a Dirty Harry-inspired tough cop called "One Eyed Jack" for "Valiant", saw that readers also responded to authority figures, and developed a character that took the concept to its logical extreme, imagining an ultra-violent lawman patrolling a future New York with the power to arrest, sentence, and if required execute criminals on the spot. Meanwhile, Mills had developed a horror strip, inspired by the novels of Dennis Wheatley, about a hanging judgecalled "Judge Dread" (after the reggaeand skaartist of the same name). The idea was abandoned as unsuitable for the new comic, but the name, with a little modification, was adopted by Wagner for his ultimate lawman.
The task of visualising the newly-named "
Judge Dredd" was given to Carlos Ezquerra, a Spanish artist who had worked for Mills before on "Battle" on a strip called "Major Eazy". Wagner gave Ezquerra an advertisement for the film " Death Race 2000", showing the character Frankenstein clad in black leather on a motorbike, as a suggestion for what the character should look like. Ezquerra elaborated on this greatly, adding body-armour, zips and chains, which Wagner originally thought over the top. Wagner's initial script was rewritten by Mills and drawn up by Ezquerra, but when the art came back a rethink was necessary. The hardware and cityscapes Ezquerra had drawn were far more futuristic than the near-future setting originally intended, and Mills decided to run with it and set the strip further into the future. By this stage, however, Wagner had quit.
IPC owned the rights to "
Dan Dare", and Mills decided to revive the character to add immediate public recognition for the title. Paul DeSavery, who owned "Dare"'s film rights, offered to buy the new comic and give Mills and Wagner more creative control and a greater financial stake. The deal fell through, however, and Wagner walked. Mills was reluctant to lose "Judge Dredd" and farmed the strip out to a variety of freelance writers, hoping to develop it further. Their scripts were given to a variety of artists as Mills tried to find a strip which would make a good introduction to the character, all of which meant that "Dredd" would not be ready for the first issue.
The story chosen was one written by Peter Harris, extensively rewritten by Mills and including an idea suggested by Kelvin Gosnell, and drawn by newcomer Mike McMahon. The strip debuted in prog 2, but Ezquerra, angry that another artist had drawn the first published strip, quit and returned to work for "Battle".
The opening line-up
Mills had created "
Harlem Heroes", about the future sport of aeroball, a futuristic, violent version of basketballwith jet-packs. Similar future sport series had been a fixture of "Action". Wanting to give the new comic a distinctive look, Mills wanted to use European artists, but the work turned in on "Harlem Heroes" by Trigo was disappointing. Veteran British artists Ron Turner and Barrie Mitchellwere tried out, but a newcomer called Dave Gibbonswon the editor over with his dynamic, American-influenced drawings and got the job. Mills wrote the first five episodes before handing the strip to " Roy of the Rovers" writer Tom Tully.
"Dan Dare" was extensively revamped to make it more futuristic. In the new stories he had been put into suspended animation and revived several centuries in the future. Several artists were tried out before Mills settled on Italian artist
Massimo Belardinelli, whose imaginative, hallucinatory work was fantastic at visualising aliens, although perhaps less satisfying on the hero himself. The scripts were endlessly rewritten in an attempt to make the series work, but few "Dan Dare" fans remember this version of the character fondly. Belardinelli and Gibbons later switched strips, with Gibbons drawing "Dare" and Belardinelli drawing the "Harlem Heroes" sequel "Inferno". When Gibbons took over Dare in Prog 28 the strip was refashioned as a 'Star Trek' style space opera.
The other opening strips were "
M.A.C.H. 1", a super-powered secret agent inspired by " The Six Million Dollar Man"; "Invasion!", about a "Volgan" (thinly disguised Russian) invasion of Britain opposed by tough Londonlorry driver turned guerrilla fighter Bill Savage; and "Flesh", a particularly violent strip about time-travelling cowboys farming dinosaurs for their meat.
Once the comic had been made ready to launch, Mills quit as editor and handed the reins to
Kelvin Gosnell, whose idea it was in the first place. Gosnell appeared as the fall guy in the Tharg photostrips that were a feature of the comic in its early years.
The early years
Wagner swallowed his pride and returned to write "Judge Dredd", starting in prog 9. His "Robot Wars" storyline was drawn by a rotating team of artists, including McMahon, Ezquerra, Turner and Ian Gibson, and marked the point where "Dredd" became the most popular character in the comic, a position he has rarely relinquished. Dredd's city, which now covered most of the east coast of North America, became known as
Mega-City One. Dredd had also been unmasked in issue 8 in a story drawn by Massimo Belardinelli, but the face drawn was not anywhere near that which had been hopedFact|date=April 2008. The decision was made to make out that Dredd's face had been scarred and the panel had a 'censored' banner slapped on it. After this Dredd's face was never attempted to be shown again.
A new story format was introduced in prog 25 - "Tharg's Future Shocks", one-off twist-in-the-tail stories devised by writer Steve Moore. "2000 AD" still uses this format as filler and to try out new talent. One early "Future Shock" was drawn by "2000 AD"'s then art assistant Kevin O'Neill.
Wagner introduced a new character, "
Robo-Hunter", in 1978. The hero, Sam Slade, was a private detective-type character specialising in robot-related cases. José Ferrer was the original artist, but the editorial team were not happy with his work and quickly replaced him with Ian Gibson, who redrew parts of Ferrer's episodes before taking over himself. Gibson's imaginative, cartoony art helped drive the series' style from hard-boiled detective to surreal comedy. As the series continued Sam was joined by an idiot kit-built robot assistant, Hoagy, and even, after a crack-down on smoking in IPC comics, a Cuban robot cigar, Stogie, designed to help him cut down on nicotine. The hero started out based on Humphrey Bogart, but after a few years he looked more like Ted DansonFact|date=April 2008.
Other ongoing strips included "The Visible Man", detailing the misfortunes of Frank Hart, a man whose skin had been made transparent due to exposure to nuclear waste, and "Shako", (which followed the same formula as "Hook Jaw" from "Action" but with less success) the story of a
polar bearpursued by the Army because it had swallowed a secret capsule.
M.A.C.H. 1" was killed off in 1978 but a spin off, "M.A.C.H. Zero", continued into the 1980s. "Flesh" had a sequel in 1978, set on the prehistoric oceans, and Bill Savage appeared again in a prequel, "Disaster 1990", in which a nuclear explosion at the north pole had melted the polar ice-cap and flooded Britain.
In 1978 "2000 AD" launched the annual 48 page Summer Special, including a full length "M.A.C.H. Zero" story drawn by O'Neill. The yearly hardcover annual had started in 1977 and would continue till 1991.
Pat Mills took over writing "Dredd" for a six-month "epic" called "
The Cursed Earth", inspired by Roger Zelazny's " Damnation Alley", which took the future lawman out of the city on a humanitarian trek across the radioactive wasteland between the Mega-Cities. McMahon drew the bulk of the stories, with occasional episodes drawn by Brian Bolland. The story saw Dredd moved to the colour centre pages for the first time while "Dan Dare" was given the front page.
IPC had launched a second science fiction comic, "
Starlord", which was cancelled after only 22 issues and merged into "2000 AD". Two Starlord strips strengthened "2000 AD"'s line-up: " Strontium Dog", a mutant bounty huntercreated by Wagner and Ezquerra, and " Ro-Busters", a robot disaster squad created by Mills. "Ro-Busters" gave O'Neill the chance to spread his artistic wings and led to the popular spin-off " ABC Warriors". "Dan Dare" was suspended while "The Cursed Earth" was finished in time for the merger. Wagner returned to "Dredd" following the merger to write "The Day the Law Died", another six month epic in which Mega-City One was taken over by the insane Chief Judge Cal, based on the Roman emperor Caligula. Another cancelled title, "Tornado", was merged with "2000 AD" a few months later, contributing three stories to 2000AD - Blackhawk, an historical adventure series about a Nubian slave in the Roman empire which took a science-fictional turn in 2000AD with him becoming a gladiator in an alien world; The Mind of Wolfie Smith, a coming of age/psychic story of a runaway teenager, and Captain Klep, a single-page superhero parody.
"2000 AD" featured an adaptation of
Harry Harrison's novel " The Stainless Steel Rat", written by Gosnell and drawn by Ezquerra. Adaptations of two of Harrison's sequels, "The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World" and "The Stainless Steel Rat for President", would follow later. The appearance of the main character, galactic thief "Slippery" Jim DiGriz, was based on James Coburn, evidently a favourite of Ezquerra's; Coburn was also the inspiration for " Major Eazy", which Ezquerra drew in "Battle," as well as "Judge Koburn", a Dredd-universe reworking of the Major Eazy character, who first appeared in 2003. Gerry Finley-Daycontributed " The V.C.s", a future war story inspired by the Vietnam War, drawn by McMahon, Cam Kennedy, Garry Leachand John Richardson.
An important feature of the early years of "2000 AD" was the opportunities it gave to young British comic artists - by the time the title celebrated its 100th issue Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Ian Gibson, Mike McMahon and Kevin O'Neil were all established as regulars.
In 1980 "
Judge Dredd" gained a new enemy. Writer John Wagnerrealised that Dredd's habit of shooting just about everybody he came up against meant that it was difficult to create a recurring villain. The solution was Judge Death, an undead judge from another dimension where, since all crime was committed by the living, life itself was outlawed. The law had been thoroughly enforced on his own world, and now he had come to Mega-City One to continue his work. Judge Death first appeared in an atmospheric three-parter drawn by Brian Bollandwhich also introduced Judge Andersonof Psi Division, a squad of judges with psychic powers.
Dredd soon began another epic journey in "The Judge Child". A dying Psi Division Judge had predicted disaster for Mega-City One unless it was ruled by a boy with a birthmark shaped like an eagle, so Dredd set off into the
Cursed Earth, to Texas City, and into deep space in search of the boy, Owen Chrysler, and his kidnappers, the Angel Gang. The Angels were some of the most memorable villains Wagner had yet devised, but suffered the same mortality problem that had plagued the strip so far. All of them were killed during the course of the story, but one, the Mean Machine, was later resurrected by a convenient bit of magic. "The Judge Child" was drawn by Bolland, Ron Smith and Mike McMahonin rotation, and the later episodes marked the beginning of Wagner's long-running writing partnership with Alan Grant. The pair would go on to write "Strontium Dog", "Robo-Hunter" and many other stories for "2000 AD", as well as for " Roy of the Rovers", "Battle" and the relaunched "Eagle" in Britain, and a number of comics in America. Pat Millsintroduced "Comic Rock", which was meant to be a format for short stories inspired by popular music. The first story, inspired by The Jam's "Going Underground", was drawn by Kevin O'Neill and featured an insane underground travel network on a planet called "Termight", in which a freedom fighter called Nemesis battles the despotic Torquemada, chief of the Tube Police. All that was seen of Nemesis was the outside of his car, the Blitzspear. The story was a reaction to an earlier tube chase sequence Mills and O'Neill had done in "Ro-Busters", which management took objection to.
The only other "Comic Rock" story was a follow-up called "Killer Watt", in which Nemesis and Torquemada fought on a
teleportsystem. This led to a series, "Nemesis the Warlock", in which it was revealed that Termight was Earth in the far future, Torquemada was a despotic demagogue leading a campaign of genocide against all aliens, and Nemesis was the leader of the alien resistance. Mills and O'Neill were on a roll and produced a stream of bizarre and imaginative ideas, but ultimately O'Neill was unable to continue the level of work he was putting into it on "2000 AD" pay. He left to work for DC Comicsin America, and was replaced on "Nemesis" by Bryan Talbot.
"2000 AD" would occasionally take a gamble on non-science fiction material. For example "
Fiends of the Eastern Front" was a World War II vampirestory by Gerry Finley-Dayand Carlos Ezquerrawhich was probably originally intended for "Battle". Its hero was a German soldier who discovered that some of his Romanian allies were vampires. Later in the war, when Romania changed sides, he was the only one who knew their secret.
A readers' poll revealed that future war was a popular topic, so Gerry Finley-Day was asked to come up with a new war story. He, editor
Steve MacManusand artists Dave Gibbons devised " Rogue Trooper", a "Genetic Infantryman" engineered to be immune to chemical warfare hunting down the traitor general who had betrayed his regiment, who debuted in 1981. He was supported by bio-chips of the personalities of three dead comrades, which, slotted into his equipment, could talk to him. Gibbons left the strip early on and was replaced by Colin Wilson, Brett Ewins, and most notably Cam Kennedy.
Another new strip in 1981, inspired by the brief CB radio craze, was "
Ace Trucking Co.", a comedy about pointy-headed alien space trucker Ace Garp and his crew by Wagner, Grant and Belardinelli.
Wagner and Grant also had big plans for "Judge Dredd". Mega-City One had grown too large and unwieldy, and they planned to cut it down to size. "
Block Mania", in which wars broke out between rival city-blocks, turned out to be a plot orchestrated by the Russian city East-Meg One, and led directly to "The Apocalypse War", another six-month epic and a hard-hitting satire on the concept of Mutually assured destruction. East-Meg One, protected by a warp-shield, softened up Mega-City One with nuclear warheads before invading. Dredd spearheaded the resistance, leading a small team to East-Meg territory, hijacking their nuclear bunkers and blowing East-Meg One off the face of the earth. "Block Mania" saw the final contributions of Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland to the "Dredd" series. "The Apocalypse War" was drawn in its entirety by Carlos Ezquerra, making a triumphant return to the character he created.
A new writer,
Alan Moore, had started contributing " Future Shocks" in 1980. He wrote more than fifty one-off strips over the next three years, while also contributing to various Marvel UKtitles and the independent magazine "Warrior". In 1982 he got his first series, " Skizz", a less sentimental take on the same basic plot used in " E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial", set in Birminghamand influenced by Alan Bleasdale's " Boys from the Blackstuff". Moore wrote "Skizz" without having seen "E.T." The series was drawn by Jim Baikie.
Moore wrote another series, "
D.R. and Quinch", spun off from a one-off "Time Twister". Drawn by Alan Davis, the strip featured a pair of alien juvenile delinquents with a penchant for mindless thermonuclear destruction. He went on to create " The Ballad of Halo Jones" with artist Ian Gibson, the first strip in "2000 AD" to be based around a female protagonist. Halo was an everywoman in the far future, born into mass unemployment on a floating housing estate, who escaped the earth and got involved in a terrible galactic war. Three books were published, and more were planned, but Moore's demands for creator's rights and his increasing commitments to American publishers meant they never materialised.
A new character, "Sláine", debuted in 1983, but had been in development since 1981. Created by
Pat Millsand his then wife Angela Kincaid, "Sláine" was a barbarian fantasystrip based on Celtic mythology. Kincaid was a children's book illustrator who had never worked in comics before, and her opening episode was drawn and redrawn several times before the editors were satisfied. Other stories were written for artists Massimo Belardinelli and Mike McMahon, but these could not see print until Kincaid's episode was ready.
In 1985, after appearing as a supporting character in "Judge Dredd", "
Judge Anderson" finally got her own series, written by Wagner and Grant and initially drawn by Brett Ewins. New artist Glenn Fabrydebuted on "Sláine", but due to his notorious slowness was rotated with David Pugh. In the "Judge Dredd" story "", Wagner and Grant introduced a pro-democracy movement in Mega-City One, which is after all a police state. This would provide plotlines for years to come.
In 1986 the comic reached its 500th issue. A new "Sláine" story, "Sláine the King", began, entirely drawn by Fabry.
Peter Milligan, a writer who had been contributing "Future Shocks", began two series, the bleak future war story "Bad Company", (based partly upon John Wagner's "Darkie's Mob" strip in "Battle") and a strange, psychedelicseries called "The Dead". In 1986, 2000AD was selling a very healthy 150,000 copies a week, (this was at the launch of their 500th issue). Fact|date=September 2007
In 1987 IPC's comics division was hived off and sold to publishing magnate
Robert Maxwellas Fleetway. "2000 AD" was revamped, with a larger page size and full process colour on the covers and centre pages. Kevin O'Neill returned for a short "Nemesis" series called "Torquemada the God". Not long after came the debut of "Zenith", "2000 AD"'s first superhero strip, by new writer Grant Morrisonand artist Steve Yeowell. The title character was a shallow pop singer with superhuman powers, caught up in the intrigues of a 1960s generation of superhumans and the machinations of some Lovecraftian elder gods.
Wagner and Grant began a new "Dredd" Epic, "Oz", featuring Chopper, a popular supporting character. Chopper was a skysurfer who had been imprisoned for competing in an illegal surfing competition a few years previously. A legal "Supersurf" race was being held in Oz, the future
Australia, and Chopper escaped to compete. Dredd also went to Oz, partly to deal with Chopper, but mostly to investigate the Judda, a clone army created by Mega-City One's former chief genetic engineer. The Judda were defeated, and Chopper narrowly lost the race to Jug McKenzie. Dredd was waiting at the finish line, but McKenzie distracted him and allowed Chopper to escape into the outback. This ending was apparently the cause of some dispute between Wagner and Grant, and was a contributing factor (it was " The Last American", a mini series for Epic Comicswhich would mark the end) in ending their regular writing partnership. Wagner kept "Dredd", while Grant continued "Strontium Dog" and "Judge Anderson". However the pair would still come together for occasional collaborations.
The "Oz" storyline had some lasting implications. Kraken, a Judda cloned from the same genetic material as Dredd, was captured by Justice Department, who had plans for him. Chopper also spun off into his own series, written by Wagner and drawn by
The "ABC Warriors" finally got their own series again in 1987 as a spin-off from "Nemesis". This was written, as ever, by Pat Mills, and drawn by two artists in rotation, newcomer
Simon Bisleyand science fiction artist S.M.S..
In 1988 Grant and artist
Simon Harrisonbegan a new "Strontium Dog" story, "The Final Solution". It took nearly two years to complete, and ended with the death of Johnny Alpha, who sacrificed his life to save mutants from extermination. Original artist Carlos Ezquerra didn't agree with the decision to kill the character off, and refused to draw it.
The number of colour pages was increased, allowing for one complete strip per issue to be painted. Initially the colour pages were reserved for "Judge Dredd", but were later given over to a new "Sláine" story, "The Horned God", fully painted by Simon Bisley. The series was collected as a series of three graphic novels, then as a single volume, and has remained in print ever since.
In 1989 the colour pages were increased again, allowing for three colour stories and two black and white in every issue. One of the colour series was "Rogue Trooper: the War Machine", written by Dave Gibbons and painted by
Will Simpson. The original "Rogue Trooper" series had run out of steam after the Traitor General had been dealt with, so Gibbons revamped the concept, creating a different genetic infantryman, Friday, in a different war. As a standalone story it was superb, but "2000 AD" unwisely decided to continue it with other creators, resulting in a string of poorly received stories.
One of the black and white stories, "
The Dead Man", was a low-key beginning for a major event. In the Cursed Earth, villagers come across a man, burnt from head to toe, with no memory of who he is or what happened to him. As he tries to piece his memories back together, he is being hunted by the evil beings who left him in that state. A creepy, atmospheric horror-western, it was drawn by John Ridgway and written by "Keef Ripley", a pseudonym for John Wagner. By the end of the series the Dead Man had discovered his identity. He was Judge Dredd.
As "The Dead Man" ended, a new "Judge Dredd" story, "Tale of the Dead Man", explained how Dredd had ended up in that position. Dredd was getting older and the democratic movement was causing him to doubt his role, so Justice Department had groomed Kraken, the former Judda cloned from his bloodline, to replace him. Kraken was now ready for his final assessment, and Dredd himself was chosen to assess him. Although Kraken performed faultlessly, Dredd thought he perceived a hint of his former allegiance to the Judda in him, and failed him. He then resigned as a judge and took the 'Long Walk' into the
Cursed Earth. There he met the Sisters of Death, and only barely survived the encounter. This could mean only one thing: Judge Death was back.
This set up the latest six month epic, "Necropolis". After Dredd had left, Justice Department had put Kraken through one final test, and given him Dredd's badge. But the Sisters of Death, spirit beings from Judge Death's dimension, were able to use Kraken's inner conflict to take control of him and use him to bring Judge Death and the other Dark Judges back from the limbo dimension Dredd had exiled them to. The Sisters possessed all the city's judges and began to enforce Death's twisted law. Out in the Cursed Earth, Dredd had recovered his memory and returned to defeat the Dark Judges. He then tried to lance the democratic boil by holding a referendum on whether the Judges should continue to govern the city. The judges won, by a small margin on a desultory turnout, and Dredd was satisfied.
"2000 AD" gained an influx of talent from other comics.
Garth Ennisand John Smith had come to prominence writing for "Crisis", a "2000 AD" spin-off for older readers, while artists Jamie Hewlettand Philip Bondwere the stars of "Deadline", an independent comics and popular culture magazine founded by Steve Dillonand Brett Ewins. Smith created " Indigo Prime", a multi-dimensional organisation that polices reality, whose most memorable story was "Killing Time", a time travelstory featuring Jack the Ripper. Garth Ennisand Philip Bond contributed "Time Flies", a time-travel comedy, and Hewlett was paired with writer Peter Milliganfor the surreal " Hewligan's Haircut". Writer John Tomlinson and artist Simon Jacobcreated " Armoured Gideon", an action-comedy series about a giant killer robot charged with keeping demons from invading earth.
Judge Dredd Megazine", a monthly title set in the world of Dredd, was launched in October 1990. With John Wagner focusing his attentions there, Garth Ennis became the regular writer of Dredd in the weekly.
Michael Fleisher, who had written "The Spectre" and " Jonah Hex" in the 1970s, was recruited to write the continuing adventures of the new "Rogue Trooper", along with several other strips, none of which went down very well. Another new writer who failed to set "2000 AD" on fire was Mark Millar, whose revival of "Robo-Hunter" was particularly unpopular. Millar has since gone on to become a successful writer of American superherocomics such as " The Authority" and "The Ultimates".
"2000 AD" went all-colour about this time (prog 723, dated
23 March1991), in response to a short-lived new colour weekly, " Toxic!", launched by Pat Mills and many of the core "2000 AD" team of creators. "Toxic!" only lasted 31 issues but many of the creators who had worked on the comic eventually found their way to work for "2000 AD". " Button Man", a contemporary thriller by John Wagner and Arthur Ranson, was originally intended for "Toxic!" but ended up in "2000 AD" and the film rights have been optioned.
A new "
ABC Warriors" series, written by Mills and Tony Skinner and painted by Kev Walker, began in 1991, in which Deadlock took over the warriors with his "Khaos" philosophy. The series is beautifully painted and often very funny, but some readers disliked the new direction and the regular humiliation of Hammerstein.Fact|date=April 2008
Robert Maxwell died in late 1991, and Fleetway was merged with London Editions, a Danish-owned company which owned rights to Disney characters, to become Fleetway Editions.
In 1992, "2000 AD" and the "Judge Dredd Megazine" ran their first crossover story, "Judgement Day", in which
zombies overran Mega-City One. Written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Carlos Ezquerra, Peter Doherty, Dean Ormstonand Chris Halls, the story teamed Judge Dredd with Johnny Alpha through the medium of time travel. John Smith and artist Paul Marshallcreated " Firekind", a slow-paced story about dragons and alien societies, which was accidentally published with its episodes in the wrong order.
The "Summer Offensive" was an eight-week experiment in 1993, when the comic was handed over to writers
Grant Morrison, Mark Millarand John Smith, to a mixed reception. Morrison wrote an unmemorable Dredd story, "Inferno", and a drug-influenced comedy adventure, " Really & Truly". Smith contributed " Slaughterbowl", in which convicted criminals on dinosaurs are pitted against each other in a deadly sport, with the survivor being granted his freedom. Millar wrote " Maniac 5", an action-packed series about a remote controlled war-robot.
By far the most controversial story of this run, though, was "
Big Dave", a satire of British tabloid attitudes starring " Manchester's hardest man". In Big Dave's world, the German national football teamreally are Nazis, single mothers really do get a fortune in state handouts, Diana, Princess of Walesand Sarah, Duchess of Yorkare portrayed as gold-digging tarts making fools of the Royal family, and Saddam Hussein, who rides an ostrich, is in league with aliens who want to turn earthlings into "poofs". Written by Morrison and Millar and drawn by Steve Parkhouse, "Big Dave" divided readers like nothing else the comic had ever published.Fact|date=April 2008
A second crossover between "2000 AD" and the "Megazine", "Wilderlands", began in 1994. Written by Wagner and drawn by Ezquerra,
Mick Austinand Trevor Hairsine, it followed on from "Mechanismo", a series of stories in the "Megazine" in which Justice Department, opposed by Dredd, tried to introduce robot judges.
With Wagner writing, "Judge Dredd" was again the flagship strip. A long-running storyline, "The Pit", was an ensemble-based
police proceduralwhich had Dredd take a desk job as chief of a particularly crime-ridden sector of the city. But "2000 AD"'s quality had dropped throughout the early 1990s, with a corresponding drop in readership. The long awaited "Judge Dredd" movie was released in 1995, but was poorly received and failed to provide any boost to circulation.Fact|date=April 2008
Former "Megazine" editor
David Bishopbecame editor of the weekly in late 1995 but the decline in sales continued it's downward spiral. Unsuccessful series were dropped, and a number of new series were tried out, some more successful than others. Writer Dan Abnettintroduced " Sinister Dexter" in 1996, a strip about two hitmen influenced by the film "Pulp Fiction", which became a regular feature. In 1997, writer Robbie Morrisonand artist Simon Fraser, who had worked with Bishop on the "Megazine", created " Nikolai Dante", a swashbuckling series set in future Russia starring a thief and ladies' man who discovers he's the illegitimate scion of an aristocratic dynasty. There were also gimmicks, like the "sex issue", sold in a clear plastic wrapper, " The Spacegirls", a series attempting to cash in on the popularity of the Spice Girls, "B.L.A.I.R. 1", a parody of Tony Blairbased on " M.A.C.H. 1", and an adaptation of the Danny Boylefilm " A Life Less Ordinary".A new "Dredd" epic, "Doomsday", appeared in 1999 and again ran in both "2000 AD" and the "Megazine". Wagner had been laying the foundations for this story for several years, introducing the main villain, semi-robotic gang lord Nero Narcos, and supporting characters like Judge Edgarof the Public Surveillance Unit, and Galen DeMarco, a former judge who had quit after falling in love with Dredd and become a private eye.
1999 also saw the return of another character, "Nemesis the Warlock". After a break of ten years, writer Pat Mills decided to bring the story to an end with "The Final Conflict". The series was drawn by
Henry Flintin a style that recalled Kevin O'Neill's early work on the series, as well as Simon Bisley's "ABC Warriors" work.
The decade ended with a special 100-page issue called "Prog 2000". Behind a cover by Brian Bolland, "Nemesis" wrapped up for good in a final episode drawn by Kevin O'Neill. War broke out in "Nikolai Dante", and writer
Gordon Rennieand artist Mark Harrisonintroduced future war story "Glimmer Rats". Another old favourite, " Strontium Dog", was revived by Wagner and Ezquerra, telling new stories of Johnny Alpha set before his death, with the conceit that previous stories had been "folklore" and the new stories were "what really happened", allowing Wagner to revise continuity. The story was in fact an adaptation of a treatment Wagner had written for a TV pilot that was never made.Fact|date=April 2008
In the year of its title and beyond, "2000 AD" bounced back under the ownership of Rebellion, with editors
Andy Diggle, Alan Barnes and Matt Smith at the helm. Rebellion continues to develop stories (and computer games) based on classic characters such as " Rogue Trooper" and " Judge Dredd", and has also introduced a roster of new series including " Shakara", " The Red Seas" and " Caballistics, Inc.". It has also published a tie-in to the film " Shaun of the Dead" in a story written by Simon Peggand Edgar Wright.
The comic continues to uncover new British talents, including
Boo Cook, Dom Reardonand Al Ewing. It has also benefited from an improved dollar-pound exchange ratethat has meant the comic can now afford to re-employ some of the talent thought lost to America.
Recently a number of shorter self-contained stories, partly created by the new wave of talent, have run including "
London Falling", " Go-Machine", "Stone Island" and "Malone". Other developments include a revamping of the " Judge Dredd Megazine" which has included a section acting as a showcase for British small press comics. Starting in 1500 prog was a Judge Dredd story "The Connection", a 'prelude' to a 23-part Judge Dredd epic "Origins" which filled in a lot of the details about Dredd's past.
In prog 1526, [ [http://www.2000adonline.com/?zone=prog&page=profiles&choice=1526 Prog 1526] ] dated February 28, 2007, "2000 AD" celebrated their 30th anniversary. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/6390731.stm 30 years of the future] ,
BBC, February 26, 2007] The issue saw the start of two new storylines: " Nikolai Dante" (by Robbie Morrisonand Simon Fraser) and "Savage" (by Pat Millsand Charlie Adlard), along with a one-off episode of "Flesh" (by Pat Millsand Ramon Sola). The run-up to this saw the first arcs of new series "Stickleback" and "Kingdom".
"2000 AD" was also made available online through
Clickwheel, [ [http://www.clickwheel.net/ Clickwheel site] ] another Rebellion-owned firm. In December 2007 they started making the latest issue available to download as a PDF [ [http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=140001 2000AD Goes Digital: Taking Brit Comics Online] , Newsarama, 17 December 2007] and then in early 2008 they announced they had added an archive of the 2007 issues to the service. [ [http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=146854 Rebellion, Clickwheel Post 2007 2000AD Archive Online] , Newsarama] , February 15, 2008] They launched the Clickwheel Comics Reader in July 2008 that would allow the digital versions of the comics to be downloaded and read on the iPhoneand iPod Touch. [ [http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080730-Clickwheel.html SDCC '08 - Clickwheel Unveils Comics Reader] , Newsarama, July 30, 2008]
At the 2008 Wizard World Chicago conference it was announced that
Dynamite Entertainmenthave acquired the license from Rebellion Developmentsto publish reprints of "2000 AD" titles, as well as produce new material based on "2000 AD" characters, the first of which will be a Dredd comic book, to be written by Garth Ennisand John Wagner. [ [http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080627-WWCDynamiteDredd.html WWC: Judge Dredd Comes to Dynamite Entertainment] , Newsarama, June 28, 2008] [ [http://www.2000adreview.co.uk/site/index.php/News/Rebellion-on-the-Dynamite-Deal.html Rebellion on the Dynamite Deal] , interview with Matt Smith, at 2000 AD Review] Depending on how popular this is they will explore other properties and Dynamite president, Nick Barrucci, is especially interested in one character, saying " Judge Deathis ripe for a really dark mini series. He's the " character of the Judge Dredd universe. [ [http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=16995 WW Chicago: Dynamite nabs "Judge Dredd"] , June 28, 2008]
Although there is no overall
shared universecontaining all 2000 AD stories, some stories spin-off or crossover into other stories. Most notable are the many stories that occur in the Judge Dredd Universe and the early stories of Pat Mills, which are frequently interlinked and also link into the Dredd Universe.
Starlordwas a weekly title (originally intended to be monthly) launched in 1978 following much the same format as "2000 AD" and included " Strontium Dog" and " Ro-Busters" which introduced characters that would later reappear in ABC Warriors. The two titles were merged later the same year and published as "2000AD and Starlord". A third "Starlord" series, "TimeQuake", also had a 4-week run in "2000AD" over a year later.
*"Tornado" was a weekly title launched in 1979. There was less emphasis on Science Fiction series. It was merged with "2000 AD" after 22 issues, transferring the strips "Blackhawk", "The Mind of Wolfie Smith" and "Captain Klep". For a while the publication was "2000AD and Tornado".
*"Dice Man" was an early attempt at creating a
role-playingcomic featuring regular "2000 AD" characters such as Rogue Trooper and Slaine, as well as original characters, like Diceman. The magazine was not a success and only lasted five issues.
*"Crisis" (1988-1991) was a sister publication that didn't follow the format of "2000 AD", but did share many editorial staff and creative teams. Early issues featured two SF-themed stories aimed at a slightly older age group than "2000 AD" and soon became a magnet for British creators who wanted to create comics for the adult market. The "2000AD" series "Finn", begun the year after "Crisis" was cancelled, continues the adventures of the character from "Third World War", though now with more of a fantasy emphasis.
Toxic!" was a short-lived rival publication, established by "2000 AD" talent, that was published during 1991.
*A "Best of 2000 AD" title was published in the mid-1980s which featured reprint material from early issues of "2000 AD". In the early 1990s, "The Complete Judge Dredd" began publication in a similar format. Both titles were relaunched as "Classic 2000AD" and "Classic Judge Dredd" in the mid-1990s but were cancelled soon after.
*A yearly hardcover annual was published from 1977 to 1990 (though the cover dates on the annuals were always the following year). From 1991 this was replaced by a softover "2000AD Yearbook"; the last of these was published in 1994. There were also annuals/yearbooks dedicated to 2000AD characters such as "Dan Dare" (1978-1979, cover dated 1979-1980), "Judge Dredd" (1980-1994) and "Rogue Trooper" (1990). An annual "2000AD Sci-Fi Special" was published during the summer months between 1977 and 1996, plus the "2000AD Winter Special" (1988-1995 and 2005), "Judge Dredd Mega Special" (1988-1996) and "Rogue Trooper Action Special" (1996). (1996's "Judge Dredd Action Special" was a tie-in to the defunct "Judge Dredd: Lawman of the Future" rather than "2000AD" proper).
* In April 1992, a "2000AD Action Special" featured six strips reviving classic British comics characters such as the
Steel Claw. Of these only "Kelly's Eye" also appeared in "2000AD" proper (in 1993, though Tim Kelly had already appeared in a 1991 "Universal Soldier" serial). This was published in the incorrect belief that Fleetway's deal with IPC in 1987 had included the rights to these characters.
* In the mid-1990s a series of "2000AD Poster Magazines" were published, each featuring a new strip. There were five "Judge Dredd" poster magazines, plus one each for other "2000AD" series such as "Nemesis the Warlock".
* A series of American comic format reprints started in
1983by Eagle Comicswith the first issue of an ongoing monthly "Judge Dredd" title. Eagle Comics also reprinted other "2000 AD" material in other titles. The license to reprint "2000 AD" material in the US was later taken over by Quality Comics. These reprints ended in the early 1990s.
*Current sister publications to "2000 AD" include the monthly "
Judge Dredd Megazine", focusing on expanding the world of Judge Dredd, and the bimonthly "2000 AD Extreme Edition" focusing on reprints.
Computer game adaptations
Martechreleased well-received games based on "Nemesis the Warlock" and "Sláine" for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64and ZX Spectrumplatforms. [ [http://www.2000adonline.com/index.php3?zone=news&page=features&choice=specemu 2000 AD's page on the ZX Spectrum games] , includes emulator and downloadable ROMs] Krisalis Softwarereleased an adaptation of "Rogue Trooper" for the Amigaand Atari STin 1991, and the merchandising that accompanied the 1995 "Judge Dredd" film included tie-in games for the IBM PC ( MS-DOS), Game Boy, Game Gear, PlayStation, Sega Genesisand SNES. A "Judge Dredd Pinball" game was released for the PC (DOS) in 1998.
With the purchase of 2000 AD by Rebellion Developments, a computer game company, several more "2000 AD"-linked games have been released or are under development. "" was released in 2003 and "Rogue Trooper" followed in 2006 for the
XBOX, Playstation 2and PC. [" [http://www.mobygames.com/game-group/2000-ad-licensees 2000 AD Licensees] ", Moby Games. Accessed 2007-09-23]
Well known creators who have worked for "2000 AD" include:
* Ian Gibson
* Alan Grant
* Mike McMahon
* Kevin O'Neill
* John Smith
Chris WestonMany of these have since moved on to work for American publishers such as DC Comics(especially the Vertigo and Wildstormimprints) and Marvel Comics.
For more creators, see: .
The current editor of "2000 AD" is Matt Smith. For a list of past editors see
Tharg the Mighty.
Although the various stories and creators have won awards too (see the various entries for details) the comic itself has its own trophies:
* 1978: Won the Eagle Awards: Favourite Comic (UK)
** Won the National Comics Awards: Best Comic (British)
** Nominated for the National Comics Awards: Best British Comic Ever
* 1998: Won the National Comics Awards: Best Comic (British)
** Won the National Comics Awards: Best Comic (British)
** Won the Eagle Awards: Favourite British Comic
** Prog 2000 nominated for the Eagle Awards: Favourite Cover Published During 1999
** Won the Eagle Awards: Favourite British Comic
** 2000adonline.com nominated for the Eagle Awards: Favourite Comics Related Website
** Won the National Comics Awards: Best Comic in the World Ever
** Won the National Comics Awards: Best Comic Ever
** Nominated for the National Comics Awards: Best Comic Ever
** 2000adonline.com nominated for the National Comics Awards: Best Specialist Magazine or Website
** Nominated for the National Comics Awards: Best Comic Now
* 2004: won the Diamond Comics Awards: Best comic
* 2006: won the Eagle Award for Best British Colour Comic
** Nominated for the Eagle Award for Favourite Colour Comicbook - British
** 2000adonline.com nominated for the Eagle Award for Favourite Comics Related Website
"2000 AD" has an extremely lively and thriving fanbase, which has produced a number of independent
fanzines. In 1998 W.R. Logan, frustrated at the lack of activity from the comic's publishers both in promoting the title and also in making best use of new talents, decided to create an independent title using 2000 AD copyrighted characters and situations. This was titled " Class of '79", named after the year of Dredd's graduation from the Academy of Law- 2079. The first couple of issues contained work from now-professional comics creators Rufus Dayglo, Boo Cook, Henry Flintand PJ Holdenand won the best Self Published/Independent Comic Award at the 1999 National Comics Awards.
Andrew J Lewiscreated " Zarjaz" comic, with strips featuring characters from a variety of 2000 AD stories. There were also interviews with Alan Grant, Frazer Irvingand Alan Moore, as well as an extensive article on breaking into comics as a writer.
Another long-running fanzine, dedicated to the world of Johnny Alpha, is "
Dogbreath", originally run by the pseudonymous Dr Bob it is now being produced by FutureQuake Publishing. In 2003, Arthur Wyatt created " FutureQuake", a fanzine devoted to the Future Shocksformat. Although "Class of '79" now appears to be on hiatus, all three of the other titles are in continuous publication, "Zarjaz" having started up again with a new issue 1.
*British Invasion, which saw a number of "2000 AD" artists and writers working for the big American firms during the 1980s.
David Bishop(2002-2003), " Thrill Power Overload!" ("Judge Dredd Megazine" vol 4 issues 9-18, issues 201-209, collected and expanded into a book: Rebellion, 260 pages, February 2007, ISBN 1-905437-22-6)
*gcdb series|id=11289|title="2000 AD" (IPC)
*gcdb series|id=11290|title="2000 AD and Star Lord"
*gcdb series|id=11291|title="2000 AD and Tornado"
*gcdb series|id=11295|title="2000 AD" (Fleetway)
*gcdb series|id=11294|title="2000 AD" (Egmont)
*gcdb series|id=11293|title="2000 AD" (Rebellion)
* [http://www.2000ad.nu/termight/references.html Termight fan web site]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/pip/m0hqh/ Futureshock! The Story of 2000AD] , presented by
Phill Jupitus, BBC Radio 4, September 22, 2007
* [http://www.2000adonline.com/ Official "2000 AD" Web site]
* [http://www.2000adonline.com/books/ Official "2000 AD Books" Web site]
* [http://www.2000adreview.co.uk "2000 AD" Review fan site]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/comics/2000adstrips/prog0/index.shtml Prog 0] , the test issue created in 1976
* [http://www.2000ad.nu/linksproject/index.php3 2000AD Links Project] - virtually complete listing of 2000AD-related websites.
* [http://groups.google.com/group/alt.comics.2000ad/topics?lnk=srg alt.comics.2000ad newsgroup]
* [http://www.2000ad.nu/classof79/ The Class Of '79]
* [http://www.2000ad.org/thrillpitcher/ Alec Trench's Thrill Pitcher]
* [http://www.2000ad.org/artwork/ "2000 AD" Artwork Gallery]
* [http://www.2000ad.org/thrillpower/ Touched by the Hand of Tharg]
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