2000 AD Prog Slog

Monday, February 08, 2010

Prog 1039 22/04/97

A relatively shorter Slaine story finishes this prog. In King of Hearts, Slaine aids William Wallace in his final battles against the English before guiding him onto the afterlife. This involves fulfilling Wallace’s painful destiny by having Ukko betray him to the English before Slaine spiritually consoles him as he’s hanged and quartered. (Slaine’s spirit leaves his body and appears next to Wallace as he dangles from the rope. He can do almost anything now. He’s like Superman.)

I like that editorial, let’s call him David Bishop, seem to be working hard at making certain thrills work by enabling and encouraging them to run continuously for many weeks. It’s a good way for characters to win the hearts of readers, I think. Slaine has been running for months now, with no breaks between sagas, and I like that. It makes an enlightened change form stories appearing in fits and starts. Pat Mills writes another fine tale in King of Hearts but ultimately the art lets it down. For most of the episodes, the reproduction of Nick Percival’s fully painted work is dark and murky and difficult to follow. What I find especially annoying about is that this sort of thing has been happening for years now.

ADDITION: At the back of this prog is a two page photo-feature on a recent Oxford Union debate for Comic Relief. Some of Britain’s brightest minds grappled with the question ‘Do blondes have more fun?’ and in attendance were Venus Bluegenes, Durham Red, Page 3 models and soft porn stars.

Two thoughts occur to me. The first is; 2000 AD is now a very different comic to the one I fell in love with. During the seventies and eighties, it felt as if it was aligned to the punk and indie attitudes of the time, both politically and creatively. Now it’s trying to be friends with readers of Loaded Magazine. Well, educated readers of Loaded Magazine. The second is; did many of the attendees even know who Venus Blue Genes and Durham Red are? No offence, but they’re hardly premier league 2000 AD characters are they. I can imagine the majority of attendees being baffled by the woman wandering around in blue body paint.

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  • "2000 AD is now a very different comic to the one I fell in love with. During the seventies and eighties, it felt as if it was aligned to the punk and indie attitudes of the time, both politically and creatively. Now it’s trying to be friends with readers of Loaded Magazine. Well, educated readers of Loaded Magazine."

    I felt that rather than maturing with me, some time around here (or probably several years before) I began to leave the comics behind. In the olden days, it always felt like a a naughty child's comic, or maybe the cooler, older kid who first lent you copies of Michael Moorcock novels and introduced you to D&D.

    It's not quite punk (although that's an important touch stone for 2000AD, for various reasons), but subversive in the way of the best children's literature. There's a line that isn't crossed (a few of them, in fact) but it encourages you to think for yourself.

    At around this time (or, as I say, perhaps earlier - maybe at the time of the first appearance of Roxilla) it just turned into a kind of cheerleader for dull pop culture, leaden non-satire like B.L.A.I.R 1 and (as you point out) tedious New Lad culture. For some reason, it lost its outsider status. It stopped asking us to think for our selves and started thinking like every other lager drinking moon faced twit.

    Had it matured with me, I guess that wouldn't have been a problem. Had I left it behind long before, I'd still have great affection for it. But it hung around like a kid that used to be cool but turned into the kind of desperate shit head I spent my childhood and adolescence trying to avoid.

    Er, sorry, went off one there. First time commenter, long time reader, doing a jolly good job, keep up the good work etc etc.

    P Hudson

    By Blogger Patrick Hudson, at 10:48 am  

  • Well over at the 2000ad forums I said some pretty harsh things about 'Kings of Hearts' most of which I'd stand by I really didn't enjoy it at all.

    That said it was pointed out that originally it was planned and apparently produced to be a 48 page one off special but was then chopped up to fit in the Prog. This does explain some of its short comings. But not all!

    By Blogger Colin, at 12:48 pm  

  • I remember that the paper stock was awful at this time it left all the painted art looking like a brown smear. The stories were even less engaging unfortunately with all the excitement and promise of a brown smear.

    I am not sure 2000ad really knew what it was doing. It was supposed to grow up and so I suppose these were those 'difficult' adolescent years. It was a bit too obsessed with sex (something that I didn’t feel was necessary) which felt uncomfortable in the sci-fi boys comic world because, arguably, it was objectified sex without relationship or purpose. I always regarded the prog as being above this sort of behaviour, and felt that if they were going to use nudity and sex then it should be part of the story and for a purpose.

    However it just felt like a horny Tharg panting over spreads of ladies with a mawkish understanding of what readers actually want to see. They should have just established a page 3 and been done with it.

    This could have been due to Bish-op, I remember the megazine was similarly embarrassing (the femme fatale supplement and Anderson in her pants all the time spring to mind), or it could just be because that is how things were at the time. I remember there was a lot of emphasis on sex in most forms of media, especially as fetishistic fashion hit the mainstream and Britain tried to shrug off the Victorian manners straightjacket that had characterised her shores for so many years.

    By Blogger Victor Resistor, at 1:39 pm  

  • Thanks Patrick. That's a great comment. I pretty much agree with you there. Nice to hear from you.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:34 pm  

  • King of Hearts originally being commissioned as a single special was news to me until yesterday after I did a tiny bit of out of character research. It's not, by any means, the best Slaine story, Colin, but it's okay I think.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:36 pm  

  • I don't think the overall reproduction is too bad at this time Victor, they just can't get fully painted artwork right. 2000 AD has lost its healthy cynicism and, instead, goes running head first into any witless fad that comes along. It never used to.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:42 pm  

  • Phew! I was worried it came across as a bit deranged!

    By Blogger Patrick Hudson, at 3:11 pm  

  • @ Patrick.

    I pretty much think you hit the nail on the head for alot of us earlier readers with your comments.

    Almost anyone of my generation has heard of 2000ad, which shows they were doing something right and i think it did feel part of the punk anti culture at the time.

    I loved the WW2 comics of the era as well as stuff like The Topper, Whizzer & Chips etc and actually found it rather interesting when two comics used to merge into one.

    But, 2000ad really did feel like something out of the ordinary.

    Actually, I have to qualify that by including Starlord and Tornado (to a lesser extent) under the 2000ad umbrella.

    Opps gotta cut this post short, ill write more in a mo.



    By Blogger OrLoK, at 7:13 pm  

  • No more than I do, Patrick.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 8:45 pm  

  • Cheers LoK.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 8:46 pm  

  • I must have bought some progs around that time as I recall that slaine story. I thought it was a crass attempt to get some of the Braveheart films popularity by shoehorning William Wallace into Slaine. This was solid evidence to me that slaine should have ended (or at least retired for a long stretch)after the Horned God saga ended.

    By Blogger Derek, at 10:38 am  

  • It probably was a bit of a movie cash in but, after the distance of time and all that.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:50 pm  

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