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2000 AD Prog Slog

Friday, January 30, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.20

Volume one of The Megazine ends with two episodes of Middenface McNulty and ten, I repeat, TEN pages of The Straitjacket Fits. Even ten pages of Judge Dredd painted by Sam Keith can’t shift the feeling that this enterprise started out so positively and now it finishes like a damp bank holiday. Well, until the start of volume two in a fortnight, anyway.

Of course, Brit-Cit Babes also ends this issue. You might remember me mentioning before that I knew artist Steve Sampson quite well at this time and, although I haven’t seen him for over ten years, I feel unable to comment on his work with the usual impartiality that you’ve come to expect from the BBC, I mean, The Slog.

I can tell you that when Steve told me that he was working with John Wagner I was utterly excited so you can probably imagine how confused I was when Brit-Cit Babes appeared and it turned out not to be one of his best scripts. It was a bit like seeing Tim Burton’s Batman film for the first time. I was so disappointed that I had to see it two more times to make sure that my senses weren’t deceiving me. I think it’s well documented that Wagner got dispirited with Brit-Cit Babes very quickly and so left it to editor David Bishop to finish it off for him.

It might be obvious to you that Steve used models for his work. All of those women from the strip are either girlfriends or ex-girlfriends of his. The male lead, Pete, is actually Steve, I think. I always hoped that one day he would base one of his characters on me but, as far as I’m aware, that didn’t happen. I like to think it’s because I have a quality that only the greatest artists are able to capture and he was intimidated by this but actually I don’t think I was fashionable or good looking enough.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.18

This issues cover, as you can see, is a collage of Dredd images by various artists from over the years behind a big announcement of the character’s fifteenth anniversary. That must have saved a few pounds on artwork. When you open the comic up, however, there is absolutely nothing in there that you are even remotely able to construe in any way as a celebration.

The Straitjacket Fits features its first good joke. This episode ends with the doctor character firing a gun into the air and shouting, “let’s kick some bottom!” Unfortunately, it’s a Grant Morrison joke that was used during Zenith Book III a year or two before.

Heavy Metal Dredd is a curious strip. Originally produced for Rock Power magazine, it seems to have been written specifically for Simon Bisley to paint. Mania, gore, over steroid muscle men, motorbikes and sadism are the reoccurring themes here. It’s curious to think that John Wagner and Alan Grant have reunited on Judge Dredd only for Bisley to use his quick style. I’m surprised that everyone agreed to do it considering how late I remember Judgement on Gotham being but this probably explains why Colin MacNeil paints this issue’s. I don’t know much about heavy metal music but isn’t this strip a little out of date thanks to grunge happening about now?

I’m sad to say that I am still disappointed by Middenface McNulty. The Strontium Dog character travels back in time with his dog, Bob, in pursuit of Clootie and his gang of mutants who stole his granny’s birthday present off of him. Alan Grant and Tony Luke write some fun one liners but John McCrea draws the strip in his more cartoony style (see Dicks for another good example). It looks rushed and untidy to me. I might have found it a lot more appealing had someone other than McCrea done the lettering which looks scrappy. I much prefer the more considered style he used recently on Chopper.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.17

The difference between The Megazine from when Steve McManus edited it and David Bishop taking over is difficult not to notice. It’s like a plaster being pulled off. A few months ago, it was a tight, firmly muscled, focused machine, now it’s a directionless, flabby, unshaven lump. It was during Bishop’s reign that I stopped buying The Megazine and later, 2000 AD, where the love affair ended. At one time, I was so enraged by what I felt was the erosion of the 2000 AD line that I wrote an article for Tripwire Magazine titled Bashing the Bishop. (I still have a copy of it filed away but I’m so mortified by the memory of that piece that I can’t bring myself to re-read it even as research for my own blog). Now, for The Slog and with the benefit of hindsight, it is going to be interesting to discover how reasonable my criticism of his era actually was.

Middenface McNulty does look as though it’s been done in a rush. Heavy Metal Dredd is a reprint. Judge Dredd Raptaur might look good but at seven episodes long it has over run by at least five. And talking of strips that outstay their welcome, there’s The Straitjacket Fits. Set in a Brit-Cit mental asylum, it’s meant to be a comedy, drawn by Roger Langridge and written by David Bishop.

Firstly, let’s not dwell on the fact that The Straitjacket Fits is being written by the editor between answering telephone calls during his day job when the space could be used for something by a writer who does it for a living. 2000 AD editorial staff have occasionally drifted into writing in the past early in their careers before realising how inappropriate it is. (Even the mightiest of all the Thargs, Steve MacManus, has done it). The Straitjacket Fits doesn’t work because I have little patience for forced zaniness and bad jokes in The Magazine environment. Having the characters in your own strip acknowledge that the jokes are bad doesn’t make it better.

Of course, Langridge’s art goes a long way to redeeming the strip but it’s frustrating with the benefit of having seen Fred the Clown since, that he isn’t also writing it. He’s one of the greatest cartoonists of our time and he seems to be underused here. However, who am I to presume the circumstances under which this working relationship came about? Maybe, Langridge didn’t feel confident enough in his own writing abilities and requested Bishop to script it. And, now that I think about it, it’s clear that Bishop is very fond of the characters that he has helped to create and commissioning Langridge in the first place, a process he must have been involved in, is a tiny act of genius in itself.

I feel bad now.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.15

My favourite new artist at the moment is Dean Ormston who is shining on the Judge Dredd tale Raptaur. His work here is colourful and vibrant while his character, panel and page composition makes me feel happy. The story might be little more than Alien loose in Mega City One but Alan Grant knows how to write a tale that exploits an artist’s strengths and he has certainly done that on this occasion.

My favourite strip from Volume One of The Megazine finishes today, Al’s Baby. It might be surprising to people in 2009 to hear that in 1991 the idea of a big macho guy, in this case a hit man for the mob, becoming pregnant and going to full term was once an amusing and fresh one. Since Al’s Baby finished we’ve had the significantly inferior Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Junior. We’ve also seen that original Vanity Fair cover featuring a naked and very pregnant Demi Moore satirised so many times since that it’s almost easy to forget that Carlos Ezquerra was one of the first to do it.

Ezquerra’s art is great on Al’s Baby. It’s so animated and expressive. Is it any wonder, though, when you consider how great the script that he was working from is? John Wagner’s characterisation, dialoguing and plotting is almost perfect. The end result is a strip that avoids sentimentality but manages to be both funny and warm.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.13

Plain clothed Brit-Cit officer Armitage is investigating the murders of a number of senior judges just as he’s been lumbered with mentoring rookie Treasure Steel. It’s a pretty good dynamic between the two characters but this might be because it’s based upon Inspector Morse and his apprentice Lewis. (I can’t comment on this with any authority because I’ve never sat through an episode of Morse in my life).

Although the characterisation is pretty solid, my problem with Armitage is I don’t really care about who is dying, why they are being killed and who is doing the killing. It feels as if there is an important element missing from Dave Stone’s story that I can’t quite put my finger on. Sean Philips’ art, however, is great. Because he is relatively prolific and continues to work in comics in 2009, it’s easy to take him for granted and forget that this guy seems able to draw absolutely anything. I envy that.

I am definitely enjoying Red Razors, the tale of an East Meg Judge with the help of Ed, his talking horse, searching for the missing corpse of Elvis. Mark Millar’s reinvention of Robo-Hunter might be misguided but for The Megazine, he is writing plenty of sharp dialogue and investing enough ideas for this strip to be vital. This also features the best art by Steve Yeowell that I’ve seen so far in The Slog. It’s emphasised well by the more traditional four-colouring employed by Philip Lynch. It looks refreshing compared to all of the painted artwork going on elsewhere else these days.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.11

Despite the name of this blog and the occasions when the obligation weighs heavy on me, I think of The Slog as a love letter to 2000 AD. Sometimes, I think of it as a love letter to the most underrated writer in comics of the last thirty years, John Wagner. I feel as if I’ve been writing a lot about him recently.

Judge Death The Boyhood of a Superfiend reaches episode eleven this issue. In it, journalist Brian Skuter has found the monster responsible for Necropolis hiding out in an apartment in the city using the non de plume of Sidney De’ath and has managed to secure exclusive interview rights with him. The story follows Judge Hershey’s investigation into Skuter’s murder cut with extracts from his interview with the evil Judge Death.

Peter Docherty does a great job painting the strip but, as in 2000 AD, the reproduction does seem to be murky in places making it difficult to interpret on occasions. The real fault in the strip however lies in Wagner’s decision to tell this story in the first place. Before, Death was a scary villain whose unknown past added to his menace. Seeing him as a boy murdering his dog and his family followed by him, as an adult, drinking tea with Skuter renders the character almost impotent. Of course, a not so good Wagner tale is better than most other writers’ best work but I’ve spent the entire story waiting for the terrifying moment when a black comedy about a sadistic boy switches cleverly into a horror about the undead slaughterer of millions and it doesn’t really happen.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.9

Already, The Megazine is making some adjustments. For example, the cover logo has been reconfigured. This makes sense given that before it dominated the front and made each new issue look like the last at a glance. Inside, the assured overall tone I spoke of before is under threat thanks to a broadening of the range of writers being used. John Wagner still writes three of the strips but now Mark Millar, Dave Stone and assistant editor David Bishop script one each also.

Judge Dredd himself only appears in a single strip which is the wrap up to a story called Black Widow. Given that this is supposed to be his own fifty-two paged comic, only appearing in seven of them does seem a bit miserly to me. He often gets more than that in 2000 AD and it’s less than a third of the price of The Magazine!

In Black Widow, one of the Nosferatu return, running around Mega City One in its spider form, sucking out from its sexually charged their liquefied internal organs victims again. The grotesque theme probably helps artist John Hicklenton focus more on telling the story than when he worked on Nemesis the Warlock. It’s been a mutually beneficial, albeit brief, experience, I would say.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.6

It must be intimidating for new boys Garth Ennis and John McCrea to find themselves working alongside such established greats as John Wagner and Alan Grant. In Earth, Wind and Fire, we learn that Chopper didn’t die at the end of his last story (see 2000 AD). Instead, he got better and moved to the Radback with friends. Problems begin to occur for this group of solid, down to earth buddies when the Stig Corporation decide to tap into the song lines at the very spot that the group have made their home. It’s a prime example of corporate arrogance, delusion and vindictiveness that Chopper and the now over weight Jug feel built to stamp out.

It’s a fine and engaging story which works all the more successfully because there’s a sense that both Ennis and McCrea are good friends themselves. There are places where the artwork seems to falter but it feels mean to dwell on those when there are pages that crackle with energy and, overall, the spirit of the strip is upbeat. I would say that the boys performed well when compared with their more established peers.

Elsewhere, one of the most affecting Judge Dredd stories ever, America, reaches its penultimate episode. The story is told from the point of view of Benny, a successful comedian who, for all his life, has been in love with a girl called America. Ami unfortunately, has been pushed to extremism after the judges’ brutal infiltration of the 16 million strong march for democracy a few years before and has joined the terrorist group Total War.

Reading America, it’s surprising how far Judge Dredd has come over the years; from a pop moody law man versus criminal strip in 1977 to this, an individual’s futile scream into the face of fascism. It is proof I think that Judge Dredd has the scope to tell stories about almost anything from sweeping global warfare to heart felt doomed love. It’s impressive that writer John Wagner has always recognised this, had the insight, imagination and ability to make each of these stories as engaging as each other and now has the space to tell a diverse range of tales. Artist Colin MacNeil seems to understand that he’s painting something memorable here; his work on America is the best he’s done, as far as I am concerned.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.4

The version of The Megazine for the US market might have bombed but the original in the UK is a success. I put this down to John Wagner and Alan Grant working as Consulting Editors. Tonally, it holds together as a whole well; five Judge Dredd themed strips, by accomplished creators threaded together with mock ads and newspaper stories. I’ve always believed that a small team of writers benefits an anthology of this type and this is what The Megazine has here.

Wagner writes the majority of the stories, which is exactly as it should be. His three strips are as diverse as they can be given the limiting theme of the comic. Last issue saw Beyond Our Kenny finish with Dredd committing a rare act of mercy and deporting frustrated trashzine artist, Kenny Who?, back to Cal Hab instead of sending him to the cubes. It’s as if the positivity surrounding The Megazine is actually affecting Dredd’s judgement now.

Alan Grant writes Midnight Children, however. On the surface, this is more of a traditional Dredd tale, which is exactly what The Megazine needs to keep the tonal balance right. It’s probably Grant’s best Dredd strip from around this time featuring some great one liners emerging from the confident pacing. It’s plotted like an episode of Seinfeld where all the various stories come together in a satisfying way as the end approaches. Of course, Jim Baikie’s almost perfect artwork is half the battle won.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 1.1

At least eight years late, Judge Dredd The Magazine arrives at last. Why, during these times of line expansion, did The Megazine appear after Crisis and Revolver? No offence, but I would have thought that you would start with the no-brainer.

It’s a great beginning. Nice cover by Glen Fabry with a sexy fold out painting by Sean Philips featuring an overview just in case you’re new to Dredd’s world. Great Dredd based strips by Alan Grant, Jim Baikie, John Wagner, Peter Doherty, Colin MacNeil and Cam Kennedy. Given the uncertain state that 2000 AD has been experiencing over recent years, it’s impressive to see such a solid collection of creators working under one roof. Also, there are new boys Garth Ennis and John McCrea, comparing favourably with their more established peers on a Chopper strip.

Not everything about the start of The Megazine runs smoothly. You might remember that publishers Fleetway attempted to launch the comic in America. It lasted for about three issues. It was unlikely to succeed given that American comic readers are resistant to anthologies. Further more, The Megazine became more off putting because it wasn’t published consecutively with the UK edition as originally intended, effectively making it a reprint. Finally, it was a US sized, prestige format comic, meaning it more expensive for them to buy. On the plus side, it smelled nice.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Prog 749

There’s nothing quite like the prog before a re-launch. Inside this issue we have story wrap-ups, a self contained Judge Dredd, a non-thrill specific cover, a Future Shock and even a Tharg story.

It’s usually fun to encounter a Tharg story unfortunately, this one reads a little fitfully. I can’t identify who writes this one as it’s credited to TMO although there are a couple of references to the upcoming Clown strip (shudder) which makes me wonder if it’s by PR droid Igor Goldkind.

In Tharg the Question, the editor of what was once the Galaxy’s greatest comic goes into nervous meltdown when he is asked by a small boy what 2000 AD will be called in the year 2000. Tharg visits the year 2050 in a dream sequence and encounters established characters such as Judge Dredd and Slaine as OAPs. It’s made all the more terrifying reading it now, in 2009, and realising that the chances of this 2050 happening is more and more likely. The story ends with Tharg announcing to his droids what the plans are for the year 2000 which, frustratingly, is kept from the reader. Of course, it transpired that the plan is to continue exactly as they are, keep their heads down and hope no one notices.

My favourite thing about this Tharg tale is the way Eric Bradbury draws the newer droids. Ig-Roid and Cyb-Aud have robot bodies but flesh coloured faces. I don’t know why, but this tickles me. That and Cyb-Aud having robot boobs. What is the design purpose of those?

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Prog 747

We’ve been experiencing a good period of strong back up stories recently. Take for example Dead Meat by Michael Cook and Simon Jacob. It’s about an organisation called PULSE, and one of its inspectors, Raam, in particular, who seems to be a genetically modified ram/person cross of some sort, whose purpose it is to route out meat eaters (human or otherwise) and abattoir owners. It’s set in a future London under water and works as a fun parable for environmentalists and vegetarians.

Revere is set in an opposite future London; one burnt dry by the sun. I find it unnerving to think that global warming is part of the public consciousness in 1991 and now, over eighteen years later, we’re still dragging our feet when it comes to tackling it properly. Revere is the story of a young witch boy who seems to be going through a rite of passage. John Smith writes with his new improved elegance while Simon Harrison provides the best art I’ve seen him do. I’ve been critical of his work in the past, particularly his indulgences on Bradley, but here his work is colourful, expressive, stylish and story driven.

Of course it’s not all good news. Harlem Heroes is back. In an earlier editorial, Tharg described this as being a solo story featuring the team’s most popular member, Slice. Excuse me but a meathead is a meathead is a meathead. I imagine from Michael Fleisher’s point of view, writing one meathead instead five is somehow easier. On the other hand, Geoff Senior’s art is deceptive. On the surface it looks casual and fit for purpose but actually there’s lots of little design flares and flicks of the wrist that make his work wonderful to engage with.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Prog 745

Below Zero, the latest in the series of Tanner adventures comes to its conclusion this prog after fourteen episodes. In it, Tanner is hired by a Virtual Reality company to investigate murders of their clients that have been taking place as they are immersed in their fantasy worlds. After failing to prevent any it seems, Tanner discovers that it’s all an elaborate trap for him.

Although it doesn’t have the same creative investment as, say, something like Killing Time had, I really enjoyed Below Zero. It’s more in the ‘old school’ 2000 AD vein which, in light of the editorial turbulence the comic has experienced over the last few years, is refreshing. Writer John Brosnan isn’t interested in over pondering and plot extension. His stories are fat free which is exactly what I seem to be in the mood for when they appear.

Kev Hopgood’s art is solid and completely suited for the tone of the story. For Below Zero, Tanner’s adventure is in colour for the first time in the weekly and, let me tell you, it looks vibrant.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Prog 743

First time around, Killing Time, was unexpectedly enjoyable and, second time for The Slog, it still is. In it, a group of well to-do Victorians take the first ever trip back through time in a train. Amongst the passengers is Indigo Prime agents, Winwood and Cord, and Jack the Ripper. The cast try hard to maintain standards as saucy Jack murders women in their carriages and scary creatures attempt to get on board as they continue their journey to the birth of the universe.

Previously, I had felt John Smith stories to be often unnecessarily spiteful. I found the stream of consciousness nastiness he often deployed irritating and off putting. But in Killing Time (and Devlin Weugh for Judge Dredd The Megazine which, also, is published around now for the first time) I was won over. The nastiness is still present but it’s balanced by an advance in story pacing and characterisation which makes all the difference.

The art is good which helps as well, obviously. Chris Weston’s work is glorious to look at but, also, is full of personality and imagination. His characters are emotive, his landscapes are surreal and his creatures are unnerving.

The credit roll for Killing Time reads Smith And Weston suggesting that these two creators are fated to work together. Although this turns out not to be a career lasting partnership, on this occasion they’ve spun gold.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Prog 741

Rogue Trooper The Saharan Ice-Belt War ends with Friday and his friend managing to escape from The Dome just in time to avoid a big explosion. It all sounds very exciting but really I can’t see what all the fuss is about. I’m going to use my break from The Slog again as the excuse for losing track a bit.

In the story, Friday goes to Africa and teams up with some guy (whose name I can’t remember or find) in an attempt to penetrate The Dome (for some reason). Once inside, Friday and his buddy (who I thought was Australian because of the way he talked but turned out to be African because, well, they’re in Africa) learn that the people inside plan to do bad things so they blow it up.

Michael Fleisher seems to be trying to write Friday as more human. Perhaps we have the first person captions to thank for that. Artist Simon Colby is still drawing all of his characters with the same preposterous body type as he did when he drew that Universal Soldier story. As stated then, all he does to make them look different is give one guy blonde hair, another a crew cut, another a waxed moustache and so on. Basically, Colby, with his oversized muscle men and weaponry, undoes any humanity Fleisher has conceded to include. But then, Fleisher’s nod to humanity is so tokenistic that even Walter the Softy pencils finished by Alan Carr inks could undo it.

Meanwhile, the latest Bix Barton story Love Sick World also comes to an end. It’s the perfect antidote to the meat-headed dumbness of Rogue Trooper and my favourite so far. Every Pete Milligan penned line is comedy gold. In fact, why hasn’t Bix Barton Master of the Rum and Uncanny been made into a sitcom?

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Prog 739

The advantage of returning to The Slog after a break isn’t just that I feel reinvigorated but also I have a good excuse for not understanding things. For example, I don’t really understand how Tao de Moto can not be physically pregnant on one hand but actually be pregnant on the other. I can put this failure down to forgetting important story points because of the weeks I left between progs and not to me failing to pay attention properly.

Tao de Moto by Myra Hancock and Dave Hine is proving to be a professionally written and well drawn strip. My only criticism is that it doesn’t seem to take advantage of its limitations in length (each episode is only two pages long) by being punchier. Had it taken some risks, it might have been a strip that inspired devotion instead of professional respect.

While I’m here, I want to say that I am always happy to see a Cliff Robinson drawn Judge Dredd story. I might have mocked him before for the similarity of his work to Brian Bolland’s but, although the influence is clear, I don’t think that there is a chance that you could ever confuse the two. It’s incorrect, I think, to interpret the differences in Robinson’s work to Bolland’s as his failure to capture its nuances completely. Take a look at his prog’s cover. I love the use of colour. Those faces look as if they could have been painted by John Burns.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Sci-Fi Special 91 & Judge Dredd Mega-Special 4

The most noticeable thing about this year’s specials is the artwork. It’s as if all of the American publishers have gone, “Thank you very much but we’ve got enough of your creators now”, and 2000 AD has been able to replenish its talent stock. Overall, the art looks very strong even if the covers appear a little dull.

There’s no fooling myself about the new tone of Sam Slade Robo-Hunter anymore. Return of the Puppet Master by Mark Millar and Simon Jacob reads like a Stephen King short except with robots instead of demons. The real revelation comes at the start of an article on the history of the strip where Mike Butcher admits that this new version is a return to more “serious elements” and the “hard-edged lunacy… of the original episodes”.

There’s a preference for the new creator droids this year until the back of the fourth Judge Dredd Mega-Special. There’s a noticeable improvement in writing quality between Love Story II Futile Attraction and everything before it. John Wagner and Ian Gibson’s rhythm and sense of farce is refreshing compared to the school boy horror that seems to be the dominant theme of the two specials.

My favourite strip, however, appears right at the end; Judge Planet by Peter Milligan and Shaky Kane. Jack Kirby never got to do a Judge Dredd strip but this is the closest we could ever hope to get. This is Dredd mashed up with The Fourth World. Wonderful.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Prog Slog Blog Year in Review 2008

A Right ol’ Barney!

The official 2000 AD website went offline May/June/July time (I can’t remember when exactly). I probably wouldn’t have noticed had I not been going there to download cover images for use in The Prog Slog Blog. When it returned, they had dispensed with the whole archive section which I would have found very irritating had my personal circumstances not changed providing me with the time to scan the images myself. Since then, a regular commentator on The Slog directed me to the “Barney” website where all of the old archive material is now kept. Thanks for that.

The Spit

Sitting pretty much at the centre of The Slog, around which the rest of it turns, is prog 506. When I began blogging the experience of re-reading 2000 AD from the start I knew that the Judge Dredd story, They Shoot Deejays, Don’t You Know, lay ahead. This was the tale I believe to have been influenced by a cruelly rejected unsolicited Future Shock submission I had sent in a few months before prog 506 was published. I was convinced that my revelation would go off like a bomb angering loyal readers of The Slog and, perhaps, even those directly involved in the strip itself. Instead, my entry for that day received only a single comment, from Horace Goes Skiing, who was very supportive suggesting that an earlier unsolicited script I had sent in bore a similarity to another strip published later. This must be how homosexuals feel when they come out to their family and friends and they all just shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah? So?”

Extras

The Slog also reached the age of the sister publication which I covered with, let’s face it, inadequacy. Dice Man, Crisis and Revolver were all publications associated with 2000 AD that came and went experiencing varying degrees of failure. With the benefit of hindsight, all I feel able to say on the matter now is it’s a shame that Rebellion and other British publishers haven’t been this brave since…




And lo, there shall come The Slide

Also covered by The Slog during 2008 was “The Slide”. This is where the quality of 2000 AD’s content dipped in direct collation to its improvement in reproduction. It was hinted at in the souvenir prog 500, started with the reformatted 520 and was in full swing by the start of the 600s. There are many Squaxx Dek Thargo who think that “The Slide” is due to the improvement in printing and increased colour content. Personally, I see that as a coincidence and believe “The Slide” is due to a combination of talent drain to America, the remaining creators being spread too thin thanks to increased content, a muddled editorial tone and a misunderstanding as to who their audience is and the size of their disposable income. 2000 AD and the British comic industry never really recovered…

The DFC

New children’s weekly comic The DFC started publication at the very end of May 2008. The DFC ignores the current trend in kid comics for a low stripage to photo-led-articles ratio by running 100 % strip content. The result reminds me very much of early 2000 AD insofar as it is a highly creative environment where positivity seems to radiate from the finished product. The business model for The DFC is interesting as it is a subscription only comic. It means that the publishers don’t have to worry about paying for distribution and most of the cover price goes to them. Seeing as the comic is now 31 weeks old and still going, is it fair to say that the experiment is a success? If so, is the subscription only model a route that perhaps Rebellion should consider for both 2000 AD and Judge Dredd The Megazine?


USA! USA! USA!

During June 2008, American publishers Dynamite announced that they had secured the rights from Rebellion to publish original Judge Dredd material in America. Furthermore, it looks likely that it will feature the involvement of Garth Ennis and Dredd creator John Wagner. This is indeed good news. So good in fact that I might even break my boycott of modern 2000 AD and associated product and buy it (presuming that it will be available to us in the UK). The last time originated material was produced by the USA was back when the film was released in 1996 and, overall, it wasn’t very good despite the talent involved. Dynamite also has access to other 2000 AD properties but, at this time, has no plans to produce any comics using them. A shame really because the idea of a line of comics featuring classic 2000 AD characters in their own titles overseen in some way by the original creators really turns me on. The bad news is that it been over six months since the announcement and still nothing has been scheduled.

Megazine Re-launch; How Much?!

Many regular readers of Judge Dredd Megazine got annoyed earlier this year when it was announced that the reprint title, 2000 AD Extreme, was being amalgamated into it, resulting in a price increase to a shocking £4.95. Personally, because I haven’t bought a new issue for over ten years, I wasn’t bothered, until I popped into the newsagent to read it for free and found that it was now sold shrink-wrapped. So, with obvious limitations on my ability to comment accurately, I would say that featuring a new Tank Girl strip is a good thing although the “free graphic novel” looks through the cellophane to be more like a US sized comic to me.
New Movie

2008 ended with the announcement that DNA Films have bought the rights to make a new Judge Dredd film. On one hand I am a little excited by this news but on the other very dubious. DNA Films are the UK based company who made Sunshine and 28 Days Later so there’s a possibility that they will be more successful at capturing the British-ness of the strip. However, Danny Cannon, director of the film from 1995, is British who even had fan art appear in the comic when he was younger and that version was very disappointing. Personally, I think a film version of Strontium Dog or Robo-Hunter would be more appropriate first. Whatever, I hope the movie is far enough away for Rebellion to get their act together and regenerate their properties in time for its release.
And next…

In 2008 I read 357 weekly progs, fifteen annuals and thirteen seasonal specials. My reading rate for 2008 seems to have matched my rate for 2007 so, baring in mind my plan to include the first two volumes of Judge Dredd The Megazine in The Slog, my projected completion date of the start of 2010 is still on target. Whether I will continue to have stuff to write about the experience; well, that’s another matter.

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