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2000 AD Prog Slog

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Prog 1053 29/07/97

Item: In Judge Dredd one off, Holiday Special, judges trace of an illegal narcotic from its arrival in Mega City One, to its selling and distribution, all the way to its actual users. It’s only at the end of the story, after everyone in the chain has been arrested, we learn that the narcotic is cigarettes and not coffee or sugar as John Wagner has used in this type of story before.

Maybe Wagner isn’t exactly repeating himself. Maybe he’s appalled at the number of adult readers of 2000 AD (we’re mostly adults at this time, right) who smoke. He wrote that story in the seventies where we learned that Mega City citizens are only allowed to smoke in the smoketorium and now, twenty years later, all grown up, we’ve forgotten that tale and are puffing away like fools. Maybe Wagner’s using this classic story to express to us that smoking is actual drug addiction and in a society that criminalises it cigarettes would be smuggled into it in a similar way that heroin arrives in ours today.

Either that or he is just repeating himself, which he is allowed to do considering how many damn fine and original Judge Dredd stories he has told.

Item: As you know, the average Squxx dek Thargo is older these days and it’s unsettling to me seeing the comic trying to deal with this statistic. Is the average age higher because 2000 AD’s content is aimed now at older readers, or would the readership still be older had the comic continued to principally be aimed at smart twelve year old boys as it was during its first decade? Is chucking a few bums, tits and vagina monsters into your story enough to recognise the maturing of your readership or is it off putting to them?

The idea I’ve had that long term creators who remember the good ol’ days would continue to produce work suitable for that first decade is disproved by John Wagner and Ian Gibson in their current thrill I Was a Teenage Tax Consultant. In last issue’s episode, Jimmy Root returns to a party the morning after the night before and enters a room full of attendees, greasy bikers and sexy young women, unconscious with, in general, their tops off. In this prog, he goes skinny dipping with his girlfriend.

Look, I know to some of you that this subject makes me look like a prude or an old man unwilling to accept that his favourite comic has changed but if 2000 AD is now more mature then some bums, tits and vagina monsters aren’t enough for it to be grown up. If we’re all adults now then why isn’t Tharg commissioning work by, off the top of my head, Los Bros Hernandez or serialising From Hell, for example? Why isn’t he doing a proper job of it?

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10 Comments:

  • Bum = Adult.

    By Blogger Victor Resistor, at 6:02 pm  

  • Teenage Tax Consultant...

    I did read this one, but I just remember thinking "what is the point of this?".

    A vaguely amusing idea that should have been a "Future Shock" if anything.

    Ive been to alot of parties, but never any like those in this strip. Or do I go to parties at nunneries?

    rgds

    LoK

    By Blogger OrLoK, at 10:20 pm  

  • Wasn't Tax Consultant originally written for another market?

    By Blogger Drhoz, at 11:26 pm  

  • Yes, I seem to recall it had been done for something that had been cancelled and had been hanging around for a while. Wagner and Gibson sold it to 2000ad. Hence the different size and the non 2000ad style content.

    I seem to also remmeber that this story just wasn't very funny. I look forward to reading your appraisal of it - as based on that I'll decide whether to dig out the progs and re-read it.

    By Blogger Victor Resistor, at 9:27 am  

  • "If we’re all adults now then why isn’t Tharg commissioning work by, off the top of my head, Los Bros Hernandez or serialising From Hell, for example? Why isn’t he doing a proper job of it?"

    As I've said, I think the failure of Crisis and Revolver demonstrates that the market was genuinely grown-up content was not sufficient to support that kind of publication (although one might want to consider the question of who much those publications clung to elements that a more mainstream adult crowd find a turn off).

    And so the content stayed basically adolescent - power fantasies of various sorts, cynical pointing out of societies (generally trivial) contradictions (wittering about smoking being a case in point: as social craziness goes, it's pretty small beer) and vague gestures to youf causes (eg, Pat Mills's manichean take on environmental matters). Perhaps the nature of adolescence changed, and this reflects a 1990s adolescence where you're allowed to have your girlfreind stay over and Mum buys you condoms? (My own 1980s adolescence being one of furtive groping and tactful silences.)

    The question of whether it could or would have endured if it stuck to a younger audience is a deeply interesting one. It's possible we could have ended up with the 2000AD banner over a bunch of toy and media tie in comics, eg. I dunno if you ever look at comics and mags aimed at boys these days (I have a six-year old) but they're mind bogglingly awful, pages of advertising content disguised as features or stories. The Marvel reprints are the best of what's available at W H Smith, but I go to a proper comic shop and buy my boy Star Wars or DC animated titles. It's hard to say whether this is because advertisers have abandoned the market or because readers have. Anecdotally, my boy is very keen on comics (with encouragement!) but his friends much less so.

    (Btw, parents of younger kids (I also have a four-year old daughter) ought to check out the wonderful (if a trifle earnest) Okido: http://okido.co.uk/)

    By Blogger Patrick Hudson, at 10:58 am  

  • Tits = Parent.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 7:38 pm  

  • OtLok, I thought parties like that only ever happened in those What The Window Cleaner Saw films.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 7:39 pm  

  • I didn't know Tax Consultant was created for somewhere wlse. That makes sense...

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 7:41 pm  

  • Hi Patrick. My feeling is that had 2000 AD continued to focus of it's original age group it would be more successful today. (This doesn't mean I would have expected it to remain unchanged). I intend to expand upon that umprovable theory here at some point, but we would certainly have a comic that you would feel safe buying for your son which, I suspect, you don't feel doing at the moment.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 7:51 pm  

  • I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on that, Paul. I have a lot of vague and unconnected ideas about the role of comics in a modern boy's life that I also might turn into a blog post one day.

    By Blogger Patrick Hudson, at 10:13 am  

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