2000 AD Prog Slog

Friday, February 19, 2010

Prog 1057 26/08/97

I think that this is the one. It might have been last prog or the next but I think it was this one. The last regular prog I ever bought. The one that broke a previously unbroken thirteen and a half year run. I don’t really know what happened. I think one Wednesday, instead of stopping off at the newsagent in the morning, I went straight to work and that was that.

Like I’ve said before, it wasn’t one thing that eventually drove me away; it was more a death by ice. There isn’t anything particularly memorably bad in this prog. Tharg, once again, opens his editorial by describing 2000 AD as a ‘fusion of science fiction and fantasy.’ (How many months has this been happening for now?) There’s another fatty contest in Judge Dredd. PSI Judge Anderson is still moaning about the children. ‘But what about the children?’ I don’t think I was even reading Witch World and Sinister Dexter (sorry, guys). In fact, I think I had been skipping thrills, such as Nikolai Dante, for months by this point.

I can’t really blame editor David Bishop entirely for this either. 2000 AD has been on the slide for ten years nearly, around the time John Wagner and Alan Grant split up, strips started being commissioned for girls and Harlem Heroes got rebooted. Before, to me, it was vital and defied expectations. Defying expectations when you’re a weekly comic printed on cheap news paper costing only 20p is easy but surpassing them by as far as 2000 AD did is extraordinary. What happened with 2000 AD is that its vitality waned away so that, in the end, even normally reliable creators seemed to be stuck in a funk. The longer this went on for, the more likely each successive editor was going to be informed by the pale imitation as well as its former self. By the time Bishop became editor, he had just as much below par 2000 AD guiding him as the good stuff.

All of the strips in this prog are okay. Judge Dredd’s Fast Food is a touching fatty story; Sinister Dexter a buddy farce; Witch World an intriguing fantasy; I Was a Teenage Tax Consultant a bizarre romp and Anderson PSI Division a colourful tale. But many of the ingredients that made 2000 AD a success to me, such as its self-deprecating wit, its hyper imagination, its sense of a whole, its vitality and its surpassing of expectations, are no longer present. Bishop, more so than any other Tharg before him, put himself forward to the loyal Squaxx as a provocative personality and it seemed clear to me that under his editorship, there was absolutely no chance of any of those qualities I missed ever returning. My only shame is, really, I should probably have stopped buying the comic ten years earlier.

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  • . . . And Ironically you have chosen to read them all over again making it effectively 20 years of not stopping buying.

    I felt the same way at this point. The only thing that kept me buying is that I wasn't really reading any other comics. I may have another few months of patience on you but I was skipping sin dex, dante and witch world too. Judge dredd and anderson were not good enough to hold the comic together.

    Some of the breaking points for me that stand out in my head all revolve around classsic stories:

    The return of Trapper Hag in Dredd - I really hated this. It stood for everything I hated in US comics (bringing back villians) and it was so weak when compared to the original.

    The conclusion to City of the Damned - City of the damned was one of my favourite JD stories as a kid so when this came into the issue I thought 'great'. I remember reading it. Hating the art so much. Looking at the writers and wondering 'how, how could they write something so bad'.

    And that was the end of 2000ad there buiried in the stories of once great writers doing hack jobs for cash.

    By Blogger Victor Resistor, at 6:05 pm  

  • I know Prog Slog in part is a reflection on what you felt at the time and this post reflects this, but what I'm curious do you have the same feelings about the progs now as then. Judging by your posts you do some 13 years later.

    I've had a very different experience. I gave up on 2000ad after my longest spell in 1996 a little under 50 issues ago. Like you by the time I stopped I was missing a lot of stuff out and it was apathy rather than any distaste that did for me too.

    My return and catch up has been, I suspect a very different experience. While the issues I left at I still feel are a low and there are many problems to come I felt that at the turn of the millenium (Prog wise) there was a slow and steady return to form and even the issues that lost me I appreciate much more.

    Do you think once you've got past the issues you know and shake off possible negative nostalga the fresh progs while offer you more?

    Well its going to be interesting (for us at least!) finding out.

    By Blogger Colin, at 7:17 pm  

  • I absolutely agree that 2000 AD lost much of its vitality at this point, but I think the problem is that by the mid 1990s, the only thing 2000 AD had to compare itself with with was...

    back issues of 2000AD.

    And frankly, the first 10 years or so of the comic was so spectacularly mindwarping - particularly in comparison to other UK comics of the day - that continuing to be as good, let alone bettering it, would be nigh-on impossible.

    Mind you, there's no reason to keep buying a comic that's not as good as it was even if it couldn't be.

    By Blogger alexf, at 9:04 am  

  • Victor, it's either ironic... or stupid.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:51 pm  

  • I disagree, Colin. I feel I've demonstrated that I feel differently about much of this period of 2000 AD these days. I like Dante and Sin Dex for example.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:53 pm  

  • you're right Alex, however there's a spirit to trying to be good even if you fail that I admire. 2000 AD became increasingly cynical.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:55 pm  

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