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2000 AD Prog Slog

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Prog 1178 02/02/00

I don’t know what has been psychically worse for 2000 AD; the Judge Dredd movie or reaching the year 2000. Content wise things are improving but this doesn’t change the fact that truthfully, nobody expected the comic to last this long. I remain amazed that the title is unchanged. Instead of representing a future that will happen during our life times, it now looks like a stale old comic set in a past that never even happened.

To be fair, the title 2000 AD might get a second wind in a few years time just as the eighties has been popular this last decade and the seventies during the one before. Unfortunately, this will be a short lived fascination. And I’m assuming here that a nostalgic interest in the last millennium will result in increased interest in 2000 AD. In fact, the comic was at its peak during the eighties so any sales boost due to a retro curiosity should be happening right now, surely.

Keeping the title as it is because it’s a recognised brand (this is an argument I’ve heard, incidentally) is nonsense if the sales of the comic over the last few years have been as low as rumoured. Originally, 2000 AD sold well and was bought by a broad range of boys of a certain age. Now, however, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the comic sells mainly to hardcore Squaxx dek Thargo and cult TV and film fans. If the title were to change these readers are likely to stay with it whilst new customers might be more inclined to get onboard. I genuinely can’t see how re-launching the comic as 3000 AD could result in a product whose content and sales are worse than they are now.

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18 Comments:

  • I certainly don't know enough about these things to really comment (ain't going to stop me is it!) but one counter argument I can guess at is that internationally 2000ad has brand recognition. So when 2000ad trys to sell product in the US, as its once again pushing with its new US exclusive Graphic Novel range 2000ad is a name associated with a classic comic that's the early home to many popular creators. Now admittedly the product is marketed on the name of those creators heavily but I suspect 2000ad being attached to it carries weight.

    Likewise the Case Files are apparently very big sellers and the 2000ad brand is attached to them so why create confusion by changing that?

    By Blogger Colin, at 7:17 pm  

  • I think you underestimate the importance of brand recognition. I would argue that most readers do not consider the relevance of the title of the comic, merely that it is '2000ad'.

    The name 2000ad has a lot of goodwill attached to it which could be lost in a rebranding.

    By Blogger Victor Resistor, at 9:44 pm  

  • You may have noticed missionary man has had double length episodes for pretty much the length of this storyline....

    The reason for this is that Dark bishop planned to leave 2000ad after the 2000 prog but stuck on for a bit later than intended. Thus they were missing a story. They used that badlands story to plug a gap then after that went they used double episodes of missionary man

    By Blogger David page, at 1:05 pm  

  • I completely forgot about Badlands. Yeah, that was an old Dan Abnett/Kevin Walker thrill that Bishop dug out of the drawer. i think they got Kev to re do a few pages at the end as well to wrap up the story, though i might be mistaken about that.

    Chris

    By Blogger kennyevil, at 2:22 pm  

  • I still feel Colin that the comics market impact is so small that renaming it could only have a positive effect on the overall perception of 2000 AD, I mean, 3000 AD. They've had at least ten years of no product for the American market, and the stuff they're releasing now is like an elbow in the bath. Also, renaming the comic doesn't mean that the brand '2000 AD' couldn't comtinue to be used in some way, such as an imprint name to the line of GNs.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:41 pm  

  • Victor, I maintain that potential new readers are put off by the title (amongst other things) because it makes the comic feel jaded and old. I can't see any benefits that the '2000 AD' brand has brought to the publishers over the last ten years.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:43 pm  

  • Thanks for the illumination, David.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:44 pm  

  • Same to you, Chris.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:45 pm  

  • I think the short-term PR boost from changing the name to 3000AD would have been worth it. The 2000AD name could have been kept GN etc. That said, maybe someone had already registered 3000AD or had some prior claim?

    I think you are right, Paul, that 2000AD only sells to the SF crowd these days. There just doesn't seem to be a market for a solid boys comic that's not heavily subsidised through either the most virulent cross-marketing (stuff like Toxic, which is entirely an ad pamphlet games, TV and toys) or reprinted content as at Marvel UK (and one might argue how interesting that stuff is to the under-12s anyway).

    That said, theres isn't a product like that on the newstands (as far as I can tell, and believe me I've looked) so perhaps it's just a matter of an unserved niche? My own boy (six, a little below the age group we're talking about, perhaps) likes the Clone Wars comics put out by Titan and the DC Animated tie-ins. The readling and story levels seem right for him.

    By Blogger Patrick Hudson, at 11:53 am  

  • Changing the name would have zero effect on the sales. teenagers just aren't interested in comics in the same way that kids of the 70's and 80's were, they're too busy playing modern warfare

    By Blogger Derek, at 2:15 pm  

  • By renaming 2000 AD as 3000 AD (for example) you've got the advantage of the comic already having a footing in enwsagents PLUS it can be relaunched for a younger audiance. The connection in the names might be close enought for Dads like yourself, Patrick, to feel able to buy copies for their boys and not have to worry about catagory B swear words and semi-erections.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:41 pm  

  • Yes they are, Derek. Look at the success of Manga for example. Teenagers aren't interested in the same comics we read, that's all. They don't read 2000 AD for the same reason I didn't like Tarzen when I was 14 years old... An old character/comic that should be left to fade away with dignity. As that's not going to happen, then why not try to make 2000 AD more appealing to a broader audiance.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:45 pm  

  • I'm with Derek on the renaming issue. Changing the name would not guarantee any increase in sales, the two things are largely unrelated.

    Grud knows I campaigned long and hard as editor for us to launch 3000AD in the run-up to the millennium. As the year 2000 approached, we could have folded 2000AD into 3000AD and - hey, presto! - overcome the whole issue. But Egmont didn't get a shit about the comic or its future by then.

    There are industrial reasons for keeping the name. 2000AD's sales history offers clout for negotiating deals at wholesale, distribution and retail levels. Change the name and that history is wiped away. [That's also the reason why the Megazine retains its Judge Dredd branding, despite the level of Dredd-world content varying wildly over the past 20 years.]

    Finally [and apologies for this very long comment], an anachronistic name is not the end of the world. I don't listen to much radio, but it doesn't stop me buying the Radio Times.

    My favourite anachronistic title for any periodical has to be the Australian Women's Weekly - which is published once a month.

    By Blogger DAVID BISHOP, at 9:52 am  

  • Hi Paul, the sales of manga in the US are falling through the floor at the moment, the biggest US publisher Viz has laid off 40% of its staff this month and second biggest publisher Tokyopop slashed its number of titles last year.

    Even in japan mags that used to be juggernauts like Shonen Jump are seeing sales falling.

    By Blogger Derek, at 9:58 am  

  • My favourite old magazine title has to be the unfortunately named "Grit" magazine (just think of what it can be rhymed with). I remember it being advertised in old Marvel comics along with hostess tootsie rolls and sea-monkeys http://www.grit.com/

    By Blogger Derek, at 10:10 am  

  • I heard about that 40% staff shedding by Viz, Derek, but I don't know enough about it to argue the case. I still believe that the current 'small' comic market is down to the quality of the product and not, necessarily, because it's a comic. My experience with Manga is that often, when I try to sell my comic at events, I have parents introduce me to their children telling me how much they love it. Maybe Viz are shedding that staff for reasons other than sales falling. Or perhaps it's just Viz.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 6:58 pm  

  • Hi David. As you probably know, I didn't always like your ideas as editor but I like your 3000 AD one. It's a shame they didn't listen to you. Although, in my mind, your 3000 AD is aimed at a younger audience than your 2000 AD whereas, in fact, you almost certainly imagined it as something completely different to me.

    My arguement for the renaming is mainly from a philosophical view point, as i'm in no position to argue the case when presented with actual industry facts :-). And I totally accept your point regarding the Radio Times (although its sales are massive whereas 2000 AD's aren't). My thinking is renaming it 3000 AD would be the best of both worlds... It's still 2000 AD when it's convenient to be.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 7:12 pm  

  • 3000ad? I say don't make the same mistake twice. Plan ahead and call it 2,000,000ad. 'Two million ad' has a nice ring to it.

    By Blogger Simon C, at 3:54 pm  

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