2000 AD Prog Slog

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Prog 1055 12/08/97

Item: In the entry for prog 1050, I mistakenly claimed that Mercy Heights was co-created by artist Greg Staples when, actually, it was by Kevin Walker. Despite this error, I think my stupid point remains valid, right?

Item: In this prog, a series of difficult to decipher images of 2000 AD characters in attendance at the 1997 Tribal Gathering festival start to be serialised on the back cover. The first, appearing over two weeks, features the ABC Warriors raving and 3-in-1-oiling their bolts off in a painting by Jason Brashill. The next, by Dermot Power and appearing over four progs, features Ukko the Dwarf smoking a great big spliff. I went to this Tribal Gathering festival and let me tell you something, if you smoked a spliff their as large and as openly as Ukko seems to be, the organisers would have wasted no time in escorting you out of the event. Besides, isn’t more in character for Ukko to be pick-pocketing all of the spaced out ravers?

Tharg has made several mentions over the last few progs about how 2000 AD has a presence at the festival. What I want to know is, why? What is editorial, let’s call it David Bishop, thinking organising an out-reach stand at an event like this when it could be doing a similar thing at book festivals, schools and children’s day at the Milton Keynes Bowl. I know the answer to that question. 2000 AD readers are older now but not that old that it doesn’t worry about if people think it’s cool or not. Of course, what might have happened is, a bunch of artists who didn’t want to pay to get in to the event got together at talked Bishop, I mean Tharg, into exhibiting there.

I popped by the stand for a few minutes and I found the experience disconcerting. It might have been because I was feeling self conscious because I had just got my nose pierced at a stand around the corner. (My friends and I were one-upping each other with what we were getting done to ourselves. Fortunately, we were straight enough to stop shortly after my nose and not get anything daft done like a facial tattoo). It might have been because many of those in attendance, who may or may not have been creator robots, looked very much like Harry Enfield in Kevin and Perry Go Large; slightly too old for their clothes. Whatever, it was a blip in an otherwise very enjoyable day and night which, in my case, had the opposing affect to its intention on me as a long time consumer of their comic because, very shortly afterwards, I stopped buying it altogether.

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  • I think this just higjlights the image problem that 2000AD was having in the 90s, mostly that they were obsessed with it. I think they were trying to ingratiate themselves with what was cool at the time to try to regain the icon status that they held in the 80s, without really working on what got them there in the first place. It was a symptom of something that was wrong with the 90s in general, an obsession with image and "cool" that kind of betrayed a general lack of self confidence. This was the era that gave birth to the idea of marketing-led companies, which, if you think about it for more than a minute, is an insane idea, as it leads to the product being altered to match something that is selling well rather than best presenting the product to an audience that would likely buy it. In this case, they were trying to appeal to "lad culture" and the E-generation which led to covers like the Anderson Prog, a stand at a festival and the adaptation of A Life less Ordinary. As you've pointed out they'd probably be better off trying to appeal to the litany of people reading books, and definitely trying to get a younger audience involved.

    I can sympathise with your belief that 2000 AD has moved too far away from its core audience but to a certain extent I disagree. i think the readership they should be aiming for is 12+ and that includes grown ups who should have stopped reading comics a long time ago. The real problem is that, at this point, 2000 AD had left itself no bridge between the Beano and itself, a function which Lawman of The Future could have fulfilled. As it is, Marvel stepped in and created Spiderman titles for younger readers to get them ready for their reprint editions of their main titles, which would work until the kids found comic shops on their own. Meanwhile 2000 AD had to console itself with not losing readers on the main title and regrowing the audeience of the Megazine.

    It's about this time that Andy Diggle came on board as an editorial assistant and really helped turn the comics fortunes around, although his effect won't become apparent for a while. It is a shame that you got out when you did Paul, as the upswing in the comic's quality was only just taking hold. Of course, had I actually seen the quality of the prog ten years before I actually started reading, I might have gotten out due to fatigue as well.


    By Blogger kennyevil, at 1:07 pm  

  • Another great comment, Chris. Thanks. I liked your observations about Marvel UK leading modern kids from the newsagent to the comic shop. I've always felt that 2000 AD can successfully appeal to both kids and adults. I think it succeeded in doing this during it's first ten years managing to thrill the boys and amuse grown-ups with its sense of satire. Anyway, as you will see from my entry today, it was all over for me by prog 1057.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:42 pm  

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