2000 AD Prog Slog

Monday, July 14, 2008

Prog 566

ITEM: Well there it is in this prog’s Reservation Coupon ad, all the evidence I need that 2000 AD is, indeed, aiming for an older average reader age. Let’s face it Tharg, because of the genre of the comic and the basic concept of some of its most liked characters, the oldest you can achieve is spotty and awkward adolescence and not full maturity. For 2000 AD to keep up with its aging audience, all it had do was to improve its reproduction quality; the way content is sourced for it should have remained the same after all, this is the reason why the audience hasn’t drifted away in the first place. The inconsistent nature of this new policy is revealed in the ad’s disclaimer; “If under sixteen, parent or guardian must sign.” In other words, if under sixteen, your money is just as good to us.

ITEM: ABC Warriors go on a two month long break mid story (this is the sort of thing we can expect to happen more often now that we’re grown up) this prog. Artist (not “art robot”; no creators are referred to as robots in the credits boxes anymore because, I guess, this is too childish) Simon Bisley has definitely made a strong first impression. He’s a very assured and striking artist even if his designs for the characters seem copied from muscle building magazines. I can tell he’s aching to draw Joe Pineapples in a posing pouch kissing his own biceps.

There seems to be a lot of Bisley’s personality in his work. The panels he likes drawing he obviously spends some time on whilst others that he’s not so into, although, well drawn, lack the same consideration. The real problem for this ABC Warriors story is a visual one but might not be entirely the fault of the artists. There seems to be very little background work drawn which means that we have no real sense of environment. Given the Time Wastes is supposed to feel like a character in its own right I would have thought an agreed visual understanding of the surrounding world by the creative team would have been essential.

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  • Paul, your point about Bisley's work is well made. It's about this time that I perceive a change in the way that mainstream comic artists go about their craft - certainly in 2000ad. Sheer drawing ability and storytelling seems to play second-fiddle to rendering style, or arty-farty experimentation.

    I vaguely recall an old-school artist being interviewed about 'young' talent at the time. I think it was Joe Colquhoun (Charley's War) talking about Cam Kennedy, and that he liked his work but not the fact that he omitted background work very frequently! Now, I'll take Cam anyday over some of the current chaps. (I think this was an interview in one of Lew Stringer's fanzines - any recall Lew?)

    I'm not against experimentation, in its place, but here we see the balance shift: the /stylists/ take over from the /artists/.

    Later, much later, we have the fully-painted stage, where glorious technicolour (and photoshop!) takes centre-stage. Again, more work for the stylists (Glimmer Rats anyone?).

    By Blogger Ken Davidson, at 10:10 pm  

  • good call on that advert, Paul. totally agree with you about the dangers of repositioning the prog more consciously towards the mature audience. as you say, the actual content, without a massive Rogue/War Machine rewrite isn't going to wear it, so you enter this awkward phase where the comic is almost embarassed by itself and we start to see a twofold death:

    Either inappropriate stories seep in (not necessarily adult content, but more often just dull and worthy), and older stories and styles get canned.

    Secondly, the comic itself suddenly 'blinks', and consciously decides its a life style comic rather thana kids comic, and is very keen that the readers are made aware of this shift too.

    By Blogger Leigh, at 8:31 am  

  • Poor old Cam, Ken. I would say in relation to some of the artists The Slog is currently covering, he's an old school artist. A friend of mine is an art lecturer and she tells me how frustrated she gets with students who insist on drawing in The Simpsons style but aren't interested in the basic rules of drawing. She finds herself shouting "But Matt Groening can draw! You can't!" Anyway, to clarify, I don't think Bisley can't draw.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:14 pm  

  • Leigh, there is still a lot of good strips appearing in the comic, I would say. There's just an editorial tone which seems, as you excellently put, embarassed by itself.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:21 pm  

  • Paul, I agree: Bisley can draw, his is the case where the veneer covers solid wood (ahem).

    By Blogger Ken Davidson, at 6:27 pm  

  • Yes - I certainly dont hold with Garth ennis' claim that teh comic was only any good when it was printed on bog paper as I tyhink this is a very interesting and potentially fruitful period of change for the comic. You still have Wagner/Grant and Mills in there plugging away and adapting to this new world. It will be a good while before Wagner (temporarily) deserts the comic and Mills (temporarily) deserts his own strengths.

    For me that ad does feel like some kind of portent of the troubles ahead, and the thinking that will be behind those troubles.

    By Blogger Leigh, at 8:05 am  

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