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2000 AD Prog Slog

Monday, March 19, 2007

Annual 1978


There's a weird quality to the strips in the first Annual. One of the obvious design features that separated the weekly from other British comics at the time was the hand lettering. Here, they decide to use the traditional typeset making the captions in lower case difficult to read. Although the Dan Dare strip appears to be drawn by Massimo Belardinelli, the majority of everything else is illustrated by artists unfamiliar to me. It all serves to make separating the new material from the reprints very difficult. It makes me wonder if IPC in those days outsourced the work on their annuals out to a different editorial division to that which produced the weekly.

The stories also seem to have a manic, nightmarish quality to them. Even Dan Dare, which you would imagine to be the most accessible of all the strips given its linage, reads like a mash up of an entire season of the original Star Trek. In the Future Shock styled End of Voyage (which I have no way of telling if was commissioned specifically for the book), a millionaire’s yacht drifts into a nuclear bomb-testing zone. Exposure to the explosion sends him bald (which, one panel later, a doctor has the unenviable task of having to inform him that he will never recover from) that, in turn, sends him a little mad. Nonetheless, it doesn't stop the guy from entering an around the world yacht race. After panels alone at sea with his neurotic thoughts, his worst fears seem proven true when, as he approaches New York, it appears deserted. And then a nuclear bomb goes off destroying everything.


What a weird rambling strip that was, almost summing up the general feel of the annual and featuring every element of the reoccurring nightmares that I had at the time: premature baldness and nuclear war.

6 Comments:

  • ooh i've got that annual - but i have never read it!

    By Blogger Mart, at 1:27 pm  

  • It's interesting that you note the strangeness of both the first annual and summer special. Without giving the game away the subsequent don't exhibit this in such a marked way. It's clear now that the creative teams were far removed from the norm, with the exception of one or two artists.

    Perhaps more interesting is that I detected this strangeness when I first read the annual and special, at the age of around ten / eleven. I remember being a little freaked by the Dan Dare story, which looked like Dare but certainly wasn't in character (at the time I had yet to become acquainted with the real McCoy from The Eagle). The nuclear war story left me shuddering - as I think our region still test fired civil def sirens at the time ;) I also recall The Dream Machine story messing with my head somewhat.

    By Blogger DocDelete, at 1:39 pm  

  • Read it mart; it's eerie!

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 3:11 pm  

  • docdelete, I remember the 1980 annual demonstrating a similar strangeness to the 1978 annual. So, I might have another couple of odd ones to read yet.

    The Dream Machine story is mental.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 3:16 pm  

  • Was the freaky future shock style story 'Food' in this annual? Ugh, it still haunts me today...

    By Blogger dmstarz, at 1:58 pm  

  • The artists aren't that unknown. There's a one-off called 'Hunted' that's definitely by Kevin O'Neill, another one-off by Belardinelli, and two Judge Dredd stories by Mike MacMahon (I think they're both originals not reprints?)

    By Blogger Simon C, at 2:34 am  

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