2000 AD Prog Slog

Monday, September 28, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 2.65 28/10/94

ITEM: I can just about accept that budgetary restraints prevent every page of The Megazine being filled with comic strip and that it needs to be padded out with editorial waffle but please; does the same image need to appear again and again and again? It’s now standard practice for the cover illustration to appear on the cover, the editorial page, a status update page and the subscription ad page. That’s four fucking times! So far, there’s eighteen years worth of Judge Dredd artwork for editorial to go through and use, why are we being exposed to the same picture over and over again?

And I’m not including in the count its appearance twice last issue. You know, there’s something to be said for the buzz you experience walking into the shop for a copy and seeing the cover for the first time instead of being bored with it already.

ITEM: I’m pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying the current run of Calhab Justice. Normally, if it’s not the Missionary Man or written by John Wagner, I don’t tend to be inclined towards it. In Family Snapshot, the Chief Inspector has sent MacBrayne on assignment to Brit-Cit freeing him to return the emotionally damaged PSI, Schiechallion, to duty. Obviously, the strip benefits greatly from being drawn by John Ridgeway, but Jim Alexander’s story is very accessible. The scenes where Schiechallion meets his creator remind me of moments from Grant Morrison’s Zenith and Alan Moore’s Miracle Man in both theme and quality.

ITEM: The current Missionary Man story, Treasure of the Sierra Murder, is illustrated by SB Davis and reproduced in black and white. Davis uses a wash which leaves me wondering if the artwork was originally produced in colour. Even if the wash is in just tones of grey, I imagine there would be a quality to it that is lost in the way it’s printed here. I’m curious to see what it looks like in colour, that’s what I’m trying to say.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Prog 908 07/10/94

Now that Mark Millar is off Robo-Hunter and Peter Hogan and Rian Hughes are on, the tone of the thrill is now fun, fun, fun. These days, the most subversive thing you can do in 2000 AD, it seems, is to have a good time.

In Metrobolis, the story is simple; the city’s robots have organised themselves beneath New York and plan to revolt against their uncaring masters. What makes the strip fun is that after years of Hogey and Stogie being just bit players, they have now been promoted back to their old positions as joint leads with Sam. Just because it says ‘Sam Slade’ on the door, it doesn’t mean that this isn’t a three man operation. Sometimes, Hogan’s voices for the characters read a little off but on the whole he’s doing a good job and I appreciate the effort.

The best thing about Robo-Hunter now is the art by Rian Hughes. Successfully succeeding original art robot Ian Gibson cannot be overrated. Hughes’ art is bright, distinctive and perfectly designed. Each panel is considered, drawn and then let go at the right time; there’s absolutely nothing unnecessary here and I like that. Having waded through some of 2000 AD’s more dour phases for The Slog over the last few months, it’s a wonder to me that an artist with a style like Hughes’ got any work here at all. Let’s not say anything more about it in case Tharg sobers up and changes his mind about him.

EXTRA: For the first time that I’ve noticed, the Input page features an email “number” by which Squaxx dek Thargo can contact Tharg on. I guess in 1994, the internet was on the verge of making it big. 2000 AD’s email address at this time is tharg@richb.demon.co.uk, all lower case. I imagine it’s been changed since.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Prog 907 30/09/09

Big Dave finishes his latest short run story, Wotta Lotta Balls, in this prog. In it, Dave and his mates travel to America to save ‘Engerlunds’ reputation in the 1994 world cup taking place there. It involves playing football against the German team who are secretly being managed by Hitler, who have killed the ref and are using all sorts of underhand methods to win the game, such as driving tanks onto the pitch and using them to fire in their goals. As entertaining a spectacle Grant Morrison and Mark Millar have cooked up between them, it still can’t compare to Diana Ross kicking the ball in the wrong direction to the goal rigged to fall apart during the tournament’s opening ceremony.

I’ve realised why I have niggling doubts about Big Dave; I feel as if I’ve seen it all before, and not just because I read the strips for the first time fifteen years ago. Since Big Dave first appeared, its sense of politically challenging satire has become more common place such as in TV shows like South Park (good) and Family Guy (not so good). Of course, Big Dave wasn’t there first either being predated by Viz by over a decade but it did anticipate the zeitgeist, I suppose, by boiling it down into a single strip and individual narratives.

Morrison and Millar might be big shots in today’s comic industry but the real creative star of Wotta Lotta Balls is Steve Parkhouse, back on Big Dave after being temporality replaced by Anthony Williams last time. This time, Big Dave is in water colour but still retains the animated spontaneity that made Parkhouse’s black and white stories such fun.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 2.63 30/09/94

Five ‘scorching’ new stories start and there’s a free gift of sorts so this must be a re-launch issue. Except, the Judge Dredd story, Wilderlands, isn’t the start as it continues from prog 905 of 2000 AD. So, yes, this is a re-launch issue but, no, it’s not really an ideal jumping on point for new readers unless you’re already a Squaxx dek Thargo.

The Slog is back at The Megazine so soon because Wilderlands is running over the two comics. Although this time, unlike Judgement Day, it looks as if it’s being written in such a way to enable regular readers of only one of the titles to follow the story. It’s a little disconcerting to be caught up in the momentum of the 2000 AD episodes to suddenly find yourself re-reading the same events only this time from Judge Castillo’s more ponderous point of view.

This issue’s free gift is a scratch card featuring the chance to win £5000. Blimey. Even fifteen years later in 2009, that’s a lot of money. The reader has to answer three questions about upcoming story episodes to appear in The Megazine and then, if they’ve scratched away three ticks on the card, provide an amusing caption to a drawing of Judge Dredd chinning off against The Missionary Man. My caption is, Dredd: “The Magazine isn’t nearly as good as 2000 AD”. Missionary Man: “I agree, although our strips are great.”

As it happens, I enjoyed all of the back ups in this issue. After suggesting the other day that strips by newer creators look inferior when standing next to those by the likes of John Wagner, this issue proves me wrong, or to be an exception at least. This happens every now and then during The Slog. I mouth off about how much I don’t like this, that or the other then, when I re-encounter it, I find I do like it, as if all I needed to do was to get something of off my chest.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Prog 904 9/9/94

There’s nothing quite like a re-launch prog, except there is as they seem to be happening a lot recently. In fact, I’ve become so conscious of that phrase that I avoided typing it on at least two occasions over the last couple of weeks when I could have. You could argue that those progs weren’t really re-launches but issues in which all the thrills began three part runs until the real re-launch was ready to go but technically, as opportunities for readers to jump on board, I would say that they still qualify.

It’s a good looking prog by all accounts. Free gift free, it features Big Dave in colour, the return of the ABC Warriors, Robo-Hunter by Peter Hogan and Rian Huges, Button Man II (yay!) and the start of the latest Judge Dredd epic, Wilderlands. I don’t remember much about this story at all other than Carlos Ezquerra begins to use computer colouring on his artwork with, originally, disconcerting effect. Traditionally, Ezquerra’s work comes with thick and broken borders surrounding characters, objects and panels. Now his character outlines are thin and panel borders non-existent. At the time, I remember feeling unsure about it but now, I like it. It’s a unique style that is still unquestionably Ezquerra.

One thing I do remember from around this time is the cover price. A couple of progs back it went up to 80p and I remember thinking that when it hits a pound I should think about giving it up altogether. I was now looking for a jumping off point and, as good looking as this prog is, I was only sticking around because I anticipated a lot of attention and adoration coming 2000 AD’s way when the Judge Dredd film is released in next year and I wanted to be there for it.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Prog 902 26/08/94

ITEM: Rogue Trooper GI Blues is a bit of a curiosity; the opening episode is written by Mark Millar but the closing two by Steve White. What happened there? It looks almost certain that everyone is happy to wipe away the memory of the character’s reinvention a few years ago. Recently, as you know, Rogue’s bio-chip buddies made a come back. This prog, he shaves his head but for the strip of hair down the centre. Now I’m waiting for everyone to forget that his name is Friday.

ITEM: At this time, in anticipation of the upcoming movie, three issues of the DC interpretation of Judge Dredd are out, according to an ad for The Sheffield Space Centre. If you’ve never encountered this series then my advice to you is only do it if you’re the kind of person who enjoys watching real life disasters unfold on rolling news channels. For some unknown reason, writer Andrew Helfer, whose time writing The Shadow I had previously enjoyed, decided to set the comic during the period when the current system of law was changing over to the judiciary, and Dredd was there as a major player. It really was a total misunderstanding of what the fundamentals of Dredd are. Although, in its defence, Dredd did keep his helmet on and the art by Mike Avon Oeming and JH Williams is very good.

ITEM: It’s nice to see Nemesis back for a short run written exclusively by Pat Mills and painted by Clint Langley. Langley’s art style seems suited to the thrill, it looking to me like it utilises the best of the thrill’s artists from the past such as John Hicklenton and Bryan Talbot. Hammer of Warlocks is essentially a recap of the saga so far. Interestingly, there’s no mention of the fact that the Torquemada of current continuity has been snatched through time from moments before his death and that, theoretically, at some point he’ll have to be sent back. Or did I miss something?

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Prog 900 12/08/94

This is the way to celebrate a centenary. Not with crappy free gifts but with a whole Roxilla’s Mix page about the Reconnaissance record label. Of course, I’m joking. What I mean is, a prog long story written by John Wagner, painted by John Higgins and teaming up two of the comic’s main characters; Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper.

In Casualties of War, a battleship is thrown back in time to 2116 Mega City One air space. Dredd, before his arrest for evidence tampering (I should have read this prog earlier in The Slog, damn it), is liaising with the ship’s commander and develops an interest with one of the crew who has been accused of cowardice during combat; Friday, the Rogue Trooper.

Unlike the tedious rolling cross-overs DC and Marvel insist upon persevering with in their comics, 2000 AD characters meet each other so infrequently that Nemesis the Warlock passing Johnny Alpha in a corridor can be the most exciting thing in the world. Of course there’s more to this story than an every day domestic incident.

What a great prog, although I wonder about the thinking behind sticking the Roxilla Mix column in there instead of a Future Scan.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 2.61 02/09/94

Keith Floyd is paid tribute to in this issue’s Brit-Cit Brute story by Robbie Morrison and Xuasus which is a coincidence given that the TV chef died the other day and this story was drawn fifteen years ago. All of the Floyd stylings are honoured, including his directing of the director, except he’s called Quentin Freud and is kidnapping VIPs to cook and eat on air. This is probably the first Brit-Cit Brute story I’ve liked, although Xuasus insists on painting the British judges in Mega City One uniforms which, quite frankly, is unacceptable.

At this time I think I was trying to make the break from The Megazine, giving the comic up but returning to it every now and then. I had come to realise that there is more to the appeal of Judge Dredd than the characters and world; the writers’ voices are important too. The current generation of writers that were being used didn’t seem to be contributing very much that was new. Their ideas for strips seemed to be obvious, lacking in hooks and not always compellingly told.

Current Dredd story, The Tenth Planet, by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra is a diamond in the rough of everything else. It’s a lead up to the next cross-over mega-epic and sees Dredd, McGruder and her assistant Castillo stop off on the planet Hestia on their way to Titan. Dredd is under arrest for falsifying evidence against the Mechanismo project but McGruder can’t resist an opportunity to show off her robot judges to a new audience. This really is a beautifully paced story, narrated in Castillo’s hesitant voice, that’s sprinkled with great moments of character insight and imaginative wonder.

I guess John Wagner is why I couldn’t draw a final line between myself and The Megazine at this time. Having said that, now revisiting these comics for The Slog, I wonder if the comic would have been better off using the newer writers exclusively. Perhaps all the new guys needed were a sense that they weren’t writing Wagner’s warm up acts and the space to assert their own voices more. Of course, this might have been the excuse old geezers like me needed to vacate The Magazine permanently but, who knows, we might also have been pleasantly surprised.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

There's No Time Like The Present part 10

Long time readers of The Slog will know that every now and then I abuse my position here by promoting my own comic work. Well, it’s that time again I'm afraid. Look at this way, if I hadn’t had written this then there wouldn’t be one for today at all as I haven’t read any comics since yesterday’s entry.

Anyway, There’s No Time Like The Present is my self published comic that I have been writing and drawing for a few years now. It’s a long comic strip or “graphic novel” for which part 10 has just come out, hence this post, and I anticipate there being twelve altogether. Each issue is 28 pages long, A5 sized, features a full colour glossy cover and, like I said, is all by me. Part 10 costs just £2.50 and, if you order it from my website, that price includes postage to anywhere in the UK. All back issues so far are also still available, although some, but not all, cost £3 each. I guess this doesn’t sound very exciting, so you can read the first few pages of the story for free here.

Also, copies of the 112 paged, full colour collection of my diary strip Book of Lists are still available to buy. It costs £10.95 and, again, if you buy it from me here then that price includes the cost of postage to the UK. A sample of what you can expect from it can be read here.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 2.59

It’s nice to see Judge Anderson’s absence from the force acknowledged by Chief Judge McGruder in issue 57’s Judge Dredd story. John Wagner rarely seems aware of events happening elsewhere in other strips set in Dredd’s world, as if he doesn’t even bother to read each new issue of 2000 AD and The Megazine. Dredd’s recent encounter with Walter the Wobot mentions as afterthought the character’s assistance during the mirco-epic Inferno. It was as if that single line was written by someone else, like the editor for example.

As you know, comics abhor a vacuum which is why various characters are vying for our vote as Mega City One’s new favourite PSI. One of them is Karyn by John Freeman and Adrian Salmon. It’s a striking strip thanks mainly to Salmon’s strict mono-chrome visuals. Each panel is iconic in its own right, a demonstration of design discipline, which means that, unfortunately, the story isn’t always being serviced. It’s a good story though made even better during the times when the art works with it.

My favourite new PSI however is Judge Janus who so far we’ve seen appear in Judge Dredd Inferno and a one off solo adventure. The reason I prefer her is because she’s bald which top trumps Karyn I’m afraid. As anyone who knows me will tell you, the bald one will always win in any face off as far as I’m concerned. My favourite sit-com is Curb Your Enthusiasm, my favourite comedian is Harry Hill and my favourite Star Trek captain is Picard. Followed by Sisco (who shaved his hair off a few season’s into Deep Space Nine) followed by William Shatner’s Kirk (who wears a wig).

Anyway, what I want to know is what happens to Karyn and Janus once Anderson returns from her travels, eh?

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 2.57 08/07/94

Let’s hear it for the girls, whose strips take up sixty percent of The Megazine at the moment. Okay, this might have happened before, but it’s the first time that I’ve noticed it.

Obviously, the head girl is Anderson PSI who is no longer known as Anderson PSI Division as she’s on a sabbatical from her job at the moment. Postcards from the Edge follows her gap year trip around the galaxy as she encounters odd alien cultures and involves herself in their stories. All are written by Alan Grant whilst the art rotate between the likes of Steve Sampson, Xuasus and Arthur Ranson. My favourite so far has been Tony Luke whose photo-montage style I really like.

Personally, I prefer Postcards from the Edge to her recent Martian adventure. It’s good to see Grant back to writing short, self contained stories even if they are a part of a greater whole. It’s reassuring to see him demonstrate his ability to compose a fresh yarn every episode after years of padding out for the American format. Having said that, I remain unconvinced by Orlok the ex-assassin’s rehabilitation and uncomfortable with the attraction he and Anderson have for each other. Yuck. Just what does she see in him? He’s responsible for the death of 400 million Mega City One citizens, for God’s sake!

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 2.55 10/06/94

As enjoyable as a strip like The Missionary Man might be, the real reason I’m here at The Megazine is for John Wagner’s Judge Dredd. In it recently, we’ve been revisiting the past with Ian Gibson drawing Judge Giant’s illegitimate son’s rookie test. During it, Dredd and Giant junior uncover a planned robot revolt led by Walter the Wobot who has, at last, had enough of the years of rejection and cruelty from his former owner. As saddening as it is to see Walter come to this, the most memorable thing about this story is the reminder that Dredd is no longer the inflexible authoritarian that we had previously thought him to be. Instead, age has made him a more complex character, fallible with chinks of underplayed tolerance.

Current story, Howler, is equally memorable partly for the way that all the creators involved work as a unified force. Wagner writes an alien protagonist whose arrogant and bullying nature is so perfectly expressed that I can’t wait for him to experience an appropriate fate at the hands of a heavily wounded Dredd. Tom Frame adds to the impact of Howler, whose voice makes Brian Blessed sound like a shy little girl, with his giant lettering, perfect and flawless.

Howler is most memorable, however, for the return of artist Mick McMahon to Judge Dredd after years and years away. For many Squaxx dek Thargo, especially those who aren’t immersed in the broader world of comics, his new art style must have been a bit of shock. “Is this how he draws now?” Personally, I love this period of McMahon although I will confess to it taking me a while first time around to grow accustomed to. It’s now all about the shapes in the panel over the realism of what’s being drawn. It’s deceptively simple looking but, at every level design wise, according to my limited knowledge anyway, is probably quite complex. It’s fantastic comic art, as far as I’m concerned.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 2.53 13/05/94

I might find the pages of pointless editorial waffle depressing but content wise The Megazine is pretty good at the moment. Apart from the excellent lead, this issue’s by John Wagner and Mick McMahon, the backups are, in general, strong.

My favourite is this issue’s cover star, The Missionary Man. This is the character’s first multi-part tale, Bad Moon Rising, and it sees him up against Legion; The Cursed Earth super-mutant recast as Satan. Obviously, Frank Quitely’s art is brilliant, even better than before and it’s right that he’s back drawing the strip he seems to have been born for. Writer Gordon Rennie paces the story in the old-school 2000 AD house style at its best. The timing is immaculate, the dialogue tight and the moments to be savoured.

My least favourite is Shimura written by Robbie Morrison and drawn, this time, by Colin MacNeil in black and white. Shimura has gone ronin and is being hunted by his ex-pupil Judge Inaba. I would love to tell you more about this story but I’m finding it difficult to engage with what’s going on. Morrison weighs the story down with cultural blah-blah while MacNeil draws many of the characters so that they look too similar to each other. I think that there might something good going on here but they’re not making it easy for me to siphon it out.

EXTRA: This issue’s Quote of the Issue is, “I worshiped a false god – and his name was Dwedd” said by Walter the Wobot in Judge Dredd Giant and isn’t a quote from this issue at all but from last issue.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 2.51 15/04/94

Unlike the 2000 AD re-launches, The Megazine’s aren’t nearly as exciting even though the one that occurred last issue had an extra eight pages which, for the time being, stay. The Megazine lacks the overall design sense that helps to create a perception of the weekly comic reboots being seemingly more thrilling. There’s also a general editorial pragmatism that saps excitement from the process. It’s as if there’s an understanding that a re-launch exists to lure new customers to the comic and isn’t there for established readers. I want a bit of hyperbole. I know that we’re all adults here but, come one, at least try to play the game.

Normally I don’t read the editorial and letters pages of The Megazine but a glance across them reveals that number 51’s “quote of the issue” is from Anderson PSI Postcards from the Edge. “It gets harder to remember – what was it like to be human?” Wow. That’s almost poetic. Profound, even. You can apply that quote to almost every incident in your day to day life. Thanks for pointing it out.

(Incidentally, Tony Luke provides the artwork to this issue’s Anderson PSI Postcards from the Edge episode. He uses photographs he’s taken of models, animals, buildings etc and mashed them up using what I imagine to be an earlier version of Photoshop. To those of you who think that I’m something of a traditionalist when it comes to 2000 AD art I want you to know that I really liked the end result. There’s something about it coupled with the reproduction and Alan Grant’s sweet story which makes it very effective, I think).

Reader Andy Willowbrook writes to complain about the thickness of the accents used by Scottish characters in The Megazine, especially those in Calhab Justice. Although not Scottish himself, in his experience people from Scotland don’t actually speak like that. David Bishop replies (I presume it’s David Bishop anyway as he’s the editor), “It’s strange, but people who ever complain about portrayals of particular ethnic groups are almost never members of that group, but concerned others.” I think you’ve misunderstood what Andy is saying, David. Andy doesn’t seem to be complaining about the Scottish being misrepresented in The Megazine, he seems to be saying that he can’t understand the characters the way their dialogue is being written and besides, it’s unrealistic anyway. Personally speaking, I’m not Scottish and I don’t remember ever finding it difficult to understand the characters in Calhab Justice but Bishop using the clichéd cop out he does to avoid engaging with the reader’s point is a little frustrating and a good reminder as to why I avoid these areas of The Magazine normally.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Prog 899 05/08/94

This prog’s notable last is Ron Smith drawing Judge Dredd. In fact, it’s Ron Smith’s last anything for 2000 AD. As far as I am aware, he disappears into retirement after this leaving me wondering if he is even alive until reappearing recently in the public eye thanks to the first part of a career spanning interview appearing in the latest issue of The Megazine.

There’s no indication in Tharg’s Output page that Smith is about to retire or that A Guide To Mega-Speak was written by John Wagner with this in mind but it does feature a lot of the artist’s hallmarks that I’ve come to enjoy over the years.; a gang of juves with ridiculous haircuts including one with a set of rollers; a “geek” with his nose in the air; a mean spirited Judge Dredd dishing out almost slapstick justice; and, for good measure, a random appearance by a simp who wanders into the story blowing a party whistle and wearing a fish.

This time, for The Slog, I know this is Smith’s last Dredd and so perhaps I am reading it with a sense of occasion that I didn’t have before but A Guide To Mega-Speak features all of the characterisation, intricacy and joy that I’ve almost taken for granted over the years. Yes, droids like Brian Bolland, Mick McMahon and the rest were great Dredd art robots but it’s Smith whose version should be seen as the definitive by younger artists working on the character as far as I’m concerned.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Prog 897 22/07/94

2000 AD has now been going long enough for its early style, characters and stories to be the subject of satire in Armoured Gideon The Collector by John Tomlinson and Simon Jacob. In it, Frank Weitz teams up with Bill Savage from the Invasion and Disaster 1990 thrills and is on the run from a multi-dimensional being they refer to as The Collector. As they leap through portals in space they encounter other characters from the early years of the comic including MACH Zero, Wolfie Smith and a giant ant from Ant Wars.

It’s all meant to be good fun as it’s written in that slightly flippant voice that Weitz likes to speak in. However, Tomlinson, apart from not really getting Savage’s voice right, seems to be implying that the characters from the seventies are naïve and out of place in the more harsh present that Tharg’s creations have to live in these days. This is of course complete bollocks as the characters from the seventies existed in a changing and uncertain environment, were rough and hewn in ink, whereas new strips from the nineties, like Armoured Gideon, look like their spoiled and over privileged descendants.

Armoured Gideon The Collector does seem to mean well, though. For example, episode nine is drawn in an early style by classic art droid Mike White. It looks great and makes me wonder, if White is available for work still, why he’s not being offered more jobs by Tharg instead of those artists whose styles are less penetrable.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Prog 895 08/07/94

This prog’s notable first is script robot Dan Abnett, who goes straight into the deep end and writes a Judge Dredd called Bad Blood. I was all ready to tear strips off of the guy but I’m disappointed to report that this opening episode to a two-part story is good.

Another notable first is Kevin Cullen painting a Tharg’s Terror Tale. We’re already a little familiar with Cullen’s David Lloyd styled black and white work for The Magazine but this is his first direct job for Tharg and it’s in colour. It really does look very striking. Whatever happened to this guy?

Slaine The Queen of Wiches hits it’s penultimate episode this prog. This hasn’t been a bad Slaine tale but it has felt like it could easily be forgotten. It’s as if Pat Mills wondered what would happen if Slaine teamed up with Boudica to fight the Roman army and the result is exactly what the Squaxx dek Thargo imagined it to be. No surprises there. However, Dermot Power does a sterling job of painting the entire series. His style is practical and yet sits somewhere between Glen Fabry and Simon Bisley. Very likable. Whatever happened to this guy?

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Prog 893 24/06/94

Dave Hine is the star of this prog providing both the script and art to two thrills; part 5 of Mambo The New Flesh and a smart Future Shock called Life Sentence. Those of you familiar with his work during the twenty-first centaury might be surprised to learn that earlier in his career he drew his own strips and, was often, thought of by some as more of an artist than a writer.

I met Dave at a signing during the mid-nineties. I was signing copies of my comic Memory Man for which I was lucky to get orders from Diamond Comic Distributors for over 120, while he sat next to me (?!) signing the superior in every sense Strange Embrace. (If you’ve never read Strange Embrace then, honestly, you should. It’s great). Since, whenever we see each other at conventions, we say hello and have a little chat. He’s a top bloke whose recent American success he completely deserves.

Unfortunately, from a Slog point of view, my personal fondness for Dave Hine prevents me from writing about his 2000 AD work with the strict impartiality I insist upon here, although I will admit to enjoying re-encountering his work from before our first meeting. Instead, I’ll talk about current Judge Dredd tale, Conspiracy of Silence by John Wagner and Mark Harrison.

I’ve commented here before about how impressive those first few years of Dredd stories are for rarely revisiting characters. Of course, Judge Death and Mean Machine Angel made successive appearances, but they were years apart. Great characters like Rico and Fergie appear for one story and then disappear for good. It’s as if Wagner wilfully resisted the pressure to bring them back for the sake of keeping the thrill fresh. Now, in Conspiracy of Silence, Dredd uncovers Chief Judge McGruder’s plans to deploy Mechanismo robots onto the streets of Mega City One for what must be the third or fourth time. This time around, I’m enjoying the story, but originally, I, a John Wagner devotee, began to find this very irritating.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Prog 891 10/06/94

Item: Apparently, the recent re-launch came with a TV ad campaign according to Tharg’s editorial for this prog. I don’t recall this ad at all and a fleeting search of You Tube (very fleeting) reveals nothing. It makes me wonder how often it appeared and when. A scattering of showings during post night club broadcasting over a weekend would be money badly spent from my point of view if that’s what happened. It would have been better off appearing during Saturday morning’s What’s Up Doc show. It ran that cool Batman cartoon, I remember, and an advert for 2000 AD would have worked perfectly appearing there.

Item: There were many years when Brian Bolland was perfectly happy to draw Judge Dredd covers for absolutely any publication, just as long as it wasn’t 2000 AD. Now he’s drawing the occasional cover for the weekly not too often but often enough for it not to appear with any noticeable fanfare.

Item: It is a surprise to me to see the recently service-packed Rogue Trooper only appear for three weeks. Blink and the fresh take by new creative team Steve White and Henry Flint is gone. Flint’s art is undoubtedly great but it still feels too early to comment on the over all tone of the strip now that Michael Fleisher is gone. Saying that writer White is an improvement feels blatantly obvious to me.

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