The presence of Pat Mills’
Finn in 2000 AD
at the moment has me thinking about the context in which the strip and, more widely, his work at this time exists. More obviously, Finn
is a sequel to Mills’ Crisis
strip, Third World War
, remastered for 2000 AD
and its audience. Characters from the Crisis strip feature in Finn, only now it’s a genre story; a violent adventure fantasy for crusties and part time pagans.
Mills has not only recently seen the end of Crisis, the politically worthy Fleetway
title in which he was heavily involved, but also the altogether more anarchic colour weekly, Toxic
, for which he and his co-writer Tony Skinner
conceived the majority of strips for. Toxic was an independently published comic which enabled its contributors to keep the rights to their creations. It’s said that its presence was the main reason for 2000 AD turning to full colour content about a year ago.
The theory is that Toxic existed partly as Mills’ own reaction against the worthiness of Crisis. However, I always felt that it was created to fill the gap in the market left by 2000 AD during its years of turbulence (covered here in The Slog
). While the galaxy’s greatest comic went in search of its new identity in the changing comic marketplace before settling into the shadow of its former self in 1992, Toxic was 2000 AD as it was originally conceived only this time with better reproduction and without any boundaries.
Personally, I found Toxic’s editorial embrace of over the top violence and second rate swear words a little off putting and lacking in charm. That’s not to say that it didn’t feature a lot of great content like Marshal Law
, Accident Man
. My personal favourite was The Driver
with David Leach
. Editorially, however, Toxic failed by composing strips with the imagined collected album in mind. Further more; they seemed to appear for only short runs before disappearing mid-story sometimes never to appear again. Whether this is because a limited budget prevented the accumulation of a library of work I don’t know but I do know that many readers found these factors very annoying. In the comic shop that I worked in the time, I could see the sales of successive issues drop like a stone.
Toxic’s cancellation represented an end to a period that saw experiments in comic publication such as Crisis and Blast
that occurred thanks to the successes of 2000 AD, The Dark Knight Returns
. For mainly that reason, its failure is sad to me. All we have to look forward to from here on is a glut in comics published by Marvel UK
which, as far as I am concerned, weren’t real British comics at all but an imprint of the American publisher for direct sales shops. And after that, free gifts with beaten up leaflets attached that may or may not feature some comic strip content.
Labels: Accident Man, Banx, Blast, Crisis, David Leach, Finn, Marshal Law, Muto-Maniac, Oink, Pat Mills, The Driver, Third World War, Tony Skinner, Toxic