2000 AD Prog Slog

Monday, February 02, 2009

2000 AD & Judge Dredd Yearbooks 1992

This year, the annuals are now called Yearbooks and they are no longer hardbacks but soft covers. I’m not really sure why publishers Fleetway decided to make this dramatic format change. My memory is that the style magazines at the time where producing yearbooks in this way and now that 2000 AD is aspirational it wants to be associated with publications like The Face rather than The Beano.

Visually the effect is impressive. The covers on both books fold out to create a panoramic scene, stunning as much due to its size as to the quality of the artwork. The interior is much like the old style annuals in that there is a mixture of black and white and colour art but the reproduction is big. The binding is also better allowing you to open the book wide and view it properly without having to worry about the spine-glue snapping and the pages falling out.

The content is a similar mix of both originated and reprint material but, overall, is an improvement on the quality of the last couple of years’ worth of annuals. There’s a nice surprise when Glen Fabry provides the art to a new Slaine story for the 2000 AD Yearbook. It looks as though he has actually painted the artwork in grey-tones.

My favourite strip is Sleeper, by John Wagner and Geoff Senior, the lead in the Judge Dredd Yearbook. In it, we become reacquainted with Walter the Wobot, now a successful businessman. I found watching the dynamism and self respect bleed out from the character thanks to the reappearance of Dredd in his life almost heartbreaking. It goes to show how rarely we see Wagner write stories of standard US comic length and how effective he can be when given the space. Either that or I’m going through the change.

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  • Hi, I see you're on with the Megazines now. My son Ben is looking forward to reaching the Megs, but we're some way off. We got through a few progs today, since snow stopped school. We reached Prog 305 last night and he was eager to see how Harry Twenty ended on the high rock. Good little tale that. Thoroughly enjoyed the re-read. And he couldn't wait to get Started on Skizz. He doesn't rate E.T. and I've told him Skizz (technically of course it’s Zhcchz) is way better. I think he'll agree. Lovely to see Jim Baikie's work again. Reading together means we read out loud of course, which brings a whole new dimension to reading the comics. They come alive even more. We've had a really fun time singing to each other with Robo-Hunter's "Play it Again Sam", and singing together for the crowd scenes. He loved being Hoagy, and even more so when Sam fixed him and Hoagy started calling him Samuel. I sang Stogie's bits in a half decent Mexican accent, but mum stole the show. I recalled what a fab impersonation of Maggie Thatch she'd done back in MACH Zero so we called her in to play Iron Aggie. Zapping her mid-way thru "Land of Hope and Glory" in Prog 302 was just the best moment yet.
    I must mention the late great Massimo Belardinelli... ACE, G.B.H. and Feek (You've probably guessed Ben played Feek) have given us so many laughs with their crazy antics, the wacky artwork is fab and he's by far Ben's favourite artist. I like to think maybe he's been smiling down on us from droid heaven as we enjoy his work.
    Ben's really got into all things 2000AD, so I've been busy on ebay getting stuff I missed out on when they were first published. All the Tornados arrived recently and we've got started on them. They're as new to me as they are to Ben and we're both enjoying the read. Of course seeing Belardinelli's work on Angry Planet is the highlight. Similarly we've acquired most of the Starlords and although we'd already read all the Strontium Dogs in the Agency Files reprint, reading them again in the actual comics with the colour spreads is a real treat. Reading reprints with a whole story collected together may be convenient, on-screen digital scans may even be bigger and brighter than the originals, but nothing beats snuggling up together and reading the real old comics, turning the pages and reading the stories in the order intended. And its not just me being sentimental for my youth. Ben is a 21st century kid. He was born in the year 2000AD! He's got all the Playstation/DS/web/Dr Who etc. modern stuff and what's his favourite thing? 2000AD. Dredd, Alpha, Slade, Rogue. Of course now he can get to be Rogue on his playstation (it’s his favourite game) but he still gets more from the b&w stories of Gerry Finley-Day with Cam Kennedy, Brett Ewins, Colin Wilson etc.
    I've not really encourage him either, its all his own enthusiam. What I have encouraged is that he's very aware of the creators. He can now recognise styles and guess who's drawn what, we note who's writing what and what they've written before and even appreciate the un-sung letterers.
    Great to see Colin Wilson back doing the Current Dredd in the Megazine too. Real treat.
    Hope you're enjoying your Prog Slog as much as we are. I think we'll always be lagging behind you, but we'll get there eventually. I figure we'll have caught up to present by the time he's leaving home! Then maybe one day I'll be granddad reading my old Progs with a third generation....

    By Blogger Aero, at 11:54 pm  

  • It's been nice seeing those early Megs some where other than on eBay... I really enjoyed the early ones and I think it was the die hard collector in me that kept reading it after a couple of years. Even so, there were awesome stories that I'd have missed out on if I'd stopped getting it.

    I hated the transition from Annual to Yearbook - the quality just wasn't there for me. I'd love to see Annuals make a come back - but I having been reading from prog 2000 recently and I have to say - I'm a convert to the 100 page specials - they fit with the size of your progs, the features to strip ratio is pretty good and generally it's all really great stuff, dare-I-say Zarjaz?

    By Blogger Kevin Levell, at 1:21 pm  

  • Hi Aero. Thanks for the update. I'm encouraged that Ben likes all of those old style B&W stories. A couple of months ago, I gave a copy of Essential Spider-Man to a ten year and he loved it. He's since finihed volume two and Fantastic Four Vol 1. It goes to show that good comics are more timeless than we think and can compete favourably with other modern distractions. I'll be interested to hear what he thinks when you get to the late eighties. From then onwards, it all becomes a lot less child friendly, I would say. Please keep in touch. I love your updates.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:33 pm  

  • Hi Kevin. I didn't have a problem with the swich from annual to yearbook that I recall. Time has shown though that they didn't work out as there's no annual at all now which I think is a massive shame.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:35 pm  

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