2000 AD Prog Slog

Friday, June 20, 2008

Prog 535

Note to Tharg; don't interpret the question, whatever happened to The Mean Team, as a request for that thrill's return. It could just be a genuine enquiry about a strip that started, ran for a while and then suddenly stopped mid story. The answer, "we thought it was a good idea to begin with but it didn't work out" is an acceptable one, just as long as you don't use it too often.

The Mean Team returned a few weeks ago drawn once again by master art robot Messimo Bellardinelli but written this time by Alan Hebden. When John Wagner and Alan Grant abandoned strip, it was with the characters having just returned to Earth where absolutely no technology works anymore. Hebden takes the change in locale as an opportunity to dispense with the future sport idea and introduce his more mystical interests. The result is something that's hard to imagine Wagner and Grant ever having been involved in.

I've noticed whilst doing The Slog that a Hebden strip has a knack for persevering with characters that any right minded reader would find annoying. In the case of The Mean Team, it's Bloo-Baloo. Conjoined twins, attached at the waist upside-down to each other, who turn into a separated giant eagle and big cat during times of stress and talk in rhyme. It's enough to drive a priest to self harm. I've also noticed that a multi-part Hebden story often seems mad to me until, at some point, the objective reveals itself. In this case, it's mad Jack Keeler and his sister Emerald Eyes' search for a magical rod that might or might not be the salvation of everyone trapped on Earth. Now it's all starting to make some sort of sense... I think.

I find the presence of Hebden's Mean Team amongst the start of Zenith and the longer Judge Dredd episodes of the era somehow reassuring. The thrill is resolutely itself at at a time when other strips and their creators have half an eye on America. It's a trait I think we should all admire.

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  • I have to say I thought Mean Team was rubbish. And although I got to like Belardinellis art on Ace Trucking and Meltdown Man through reprints etc...I really thought the art on Mean Team was terrible.

    He seemed to have one set of expressions for each character and especially for Jack Keller, it was like he just wasn't trying.

    And it seemed to get worse when he did Moonrunners....

    By Blogger Derek, at 7:51 pm  

  • I absolutely loved this series at the time, appealing as it did to my younger sensibilties. I re-read it not too long ago. Turns out it's cack.
    Luckily this is a rare occurence with 2000 AD nostalgia, I find.

    By Blogger alexf, at 4:34 pm  

  • Moonrunners... Yes, I remember that... Maybe I'll like it this time, Derek.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:42 pm  

  • Alex, enjoying it the first time as a kid is where it counts!

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:43 pm  

  • Paul, I doubt you'll enjoy it but who knows. I might pull a few progs out of storage and read them instead of rely on wonky memory cells.

    I remember thinking that belardinellis art didn't really suit the new decent paper being used. His art on The Dead looked a lot better, I think the shinier paper didn't suit his inking sytle, the grotty old newsprint suited his heavy blacks better imo

    By Blogger Derek, at 7:42 pm  

  • Maybe the oppertunities for Bellardinelli to let rip decreased as the more in favour younger talent came along. I'll watch for all of this over the next few weeks...

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:54 pm  

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