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2000 AD Prog Slog

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Prog Zero

In November 2006, after an impetuous ill-thought out bid on eBay, I won the first 1188 programmes of 2000 AD. Rather than just have them sit piled up in my bedroom collecting dust tormenting me about how much money I had spent on them, I decided I was obliged to read them all. I thought, rather than just read them why not blog about the experience too. So, I started the 2000 AD Prog Slog Blog where I reviewed every other issue of the Galaxy’s greatest comic.

But it didn’t end there. In fact, I became a little obsessed with it, seeking out associated publications that hadn’t been included in the original win. A complete set of Star Lord; all of the annuals and Sci-Fi Specials; the first two volumes of Judge Dredd The Megazine; it seemed as if, contrary to what I said in The Slog, I never wanted it to end. In fact, as the end did eventually approach and some commentators asked if I would consider continuing the project beyond the originally planned prog 1188 limit I was actually tempted. During a fortnight of confusion a few months ago, I spent the time buying up auctions of Marvel UK comics on eBay thinking I could do something similar to The Slog with them.

When I started, I fully expected to enjoy the first ten years worth of 2000 ADs but after that for it to then be really hard work. The truth is that, over all, I enjoyed the following thirteen years as well. Reading so many comics in quick succession has made me tolerant of the failed thrills and more appreciative of the good ones. The truth is, 2000 AD has always been a good comic, it’s just less good at some times than at others.




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One of the cool things about writing The Slog has been the occasional feed back from creator robots I’ve received that has often been very nice and has always been reasonable. I’ve heard from Paul Kupperberg and Igor Goldkind in the comments section as well as directly from other creators via email. Another commenter has been ex-Tharg David Bishop whose recent appearance initially unnerved me a little as I had been having fun blaming him for driving me away from the comic I had once loved. I contacted David late Thursday offering him the opportunity to put right any unfair assumptions I had made regarding his time as editor of 2000 AD. As I suspected, I had left it too close to deadline. He did, however, kindly provide this note for this final Slog entry –

“Sigh. I'm sad to see the end of Paul's Prog Slog Blog.Though he's been taken my name in vain on a regularbasis, the PSB has been a fascinating trip down memorylane for me. It offers an interesting observer's POV on2000AD, a comic I was lucky enough to edit for a while.Curiously, the end of Paul's slog pretty much coincideswith the end of my spell as Tharg in terms of prognumbers, so there's a lovely symmetry to PSB ending here. In the meantime, Splundig Vur Thrigg, Earthlets- or however that old saying goes...

Let's Call Him David Bishop.”

Ha ha. Wicked.

Now, I want you to know that what I am about to say I had always intended to write towards the end of The Slog, that I don’t have a correspondence relationship with David Bishop which has provided me with any additional insider knowledge and so this is me completely assuming again but…

I no longer blame him for driving me away from 2000 AD. As I see it, he became editor around the time that the Judge Dredd film had kicked the legs out from under the 2000 AD brand leaving upper management scurrying around and wondering what to do with what they had seen as one of their big assets. For the majority of his time as Tharg, Egmont Fleetway was preparing the 2000 AD franchise for sale, which is why the line shrank, frequencies were lowered, page counts dropped and long, on-file thrills (one of which they no longer even had a script for) were published. Working in that sort of uncertain environment where your employers are demanding more for less is a nightmare for anyone, let me assure you. Now, I’m not saying that every decision David Bishop made was understandable in the circumstances, the Sex Issue being a good example, but I do believe that there are few people who could have lasted in the role in the situation I’ve imagined. He would have been under pressure to run a lean, tight ship and, in what I’m sure were very trying times, made some difficult decisions, some of which weren’t so good (replacing Tharg with the Men in Black) and others of which worked and stuck (Sinister Dexter and Nikolai Dante). It didn’t matter who was editing 2000 AD at this time, I’m almost certain I would have stopped buying it anyway. David Bishop is the man who stepped forward and suffered the slings and arrows for decisions that either he didn’t make or had little choice but to. As far as I’m concerned, he was the man who got the comic into the shape that enabled it to be sold on to Rebellion thus securing its future. We probably have him to thank for 2000 AD still being here today.


*

Believe it or not, 2000 AD continued to be published after prog 1188, and continues to appear on limited newsagent shelves to this day. Now, let me tell you a secret; although I no longer buy the comic, I flick through the latest issue every week in the one Milton Keynes shop that I know stocks it and let me tell you something; it looks pretty good. The art is always spectacular and I’ve no reason to think that the scripting isn’t either. And yet despite this, I have absolutely no intention of returning. I feel when it comes to slowly accumulating large piles of comics in my bedroom that I’ve been there and done that. However, once my brain has cooled down (which may be some time), I have every intention of catching up on Judge Dredd stories collected in graphic novels since. I want to read all of the newer thrills written by John Wagner and Pat Mills. I might even track down collections of Nikolai Dante, the strip that I originally disliked but grew fond of during The Slog, and other stories I’ve heard good things about. One thing is for certain though; I’ll be reading them for pleasure and not writing about them here.

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However, despite my version of this blog going into total lock down after today’s entry, it doesn’t mean that The Slog is over. Regular commenter, David Page, has agreed to continue the project beyond prog 1188 and I’m more than happy to pass it over to his more than capable hands. David has already introduced himself and declared his intentions so see you all over there hopefully.

*

Finally, I want to thank everybody for reading my Prog Blog Slog, especially those of you who left feedback in the comments section. I’ve been genuinely surprised by the amount of comments The Slog has received and delighted how positively you all seemed to enter into the spirit of the project. Some regulars run blogs themselves that I strongly recommend. Checkout Grant The Hipster Dad’s Thrill Power Thursday . I also enjoy Mark Cardwell’s Bad Librarianship. Apart from being very funny, Mark seems to have a preference for my favourite era of 2000 AD and frequently posts about the work creators from then are doing now. I should also give special mention to official 2000 AD website, Barney, from which I lifted most of the cover scans I used in my Slog. Barney is a terrific resource for 2000 AD readers. Every single cover to 2000 AD and related publication seems to be there, even the shit ones. Pete Ashton is an active and always interesting presence on the internet so check out his website here. If you want to keep abreast of all the current British comic news then you should be visiting the Forbidden Planet blog and John Freeman’s Down the Tubes regularly. They are both excellent sites. If you’re interested in what comics I’m making now and in the future then please visit my website or subscribe to my news feed here. And don’t forget, David Page is continuing The Slog from where I’ve left off at his blog.

Thank fuck that’s over with. Goodbye.

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18 Comments:

  • Thanks Paul - glad to hear the slog hasn't totally put you off your Thrillpower.

    Good luck in the future and thanks for the PSB.

    By Blogger Mike Gloady, at 12:00 pm  

  • Cheers, Paul - this blog has been a hell of a ride. Good luck with whatever you do next, and keep in touch.

    By Blogger Mark, at 12:19 pm  

  • There's a lot I'd like to say at this point but I've clogged up your comments section to much over the couple of years I've been following. So simply to say thank you very much for what has been my favourite Blog, one that has had a reason and a purpose unlike so many others and one that cos I've often disagreed with points you have made really has made me think about my favourite comic in ways I might otherwise not have.

    Here's to you Paul and all the fun you have in the future.

    Cheers

    Colin

    By Blogger Colin, at 1:46 pm  

  • Hi Paul, its been an interesting trip, lots of reliving past thrills, going back to when I enjoyed the mag...and when I didn't, realising when alcohol and girls distracted me from thrill-power.

    There have been times where I'm surprised where you didn't tell me to fuck off but the comments section and its huge variety of opinions and memories has added greatly to the slog.

    By Blogger Derek, at 2:15 pm  

  • Hello all,

    well, that's it.

    Like others here, I'll greatly miss this blog and your particular insights and comments.

    Also, your utter tolerance to us earthlets posting drunk ( who me?) and the spats and tiffs that have occasionally cropped up. You've handled us very well indeed, and taken the effort to reply to us individually, which is very good form IMHO.

    I'll be tuning into the handover blog and hope to see you posting there sometimes.

    It's actually quite a sad moment, although I don't actually "know" any of you personally or via any other place than "here", you've all become a part of my daily 'net routine, so it's not just Paul and his blog that I shall miss but all the contributers too.

    Hmmm, I'm starting to sound like some freaky net stalker.

    Now Paul, I think you've gone a bit soft on the Tharg ( let's call him etc etc) but as it's the tearful end, I suppose you can cut him some slack.

    Obviously, most of us don't know anything about the political wrangling and business that goes on behind the scenes of 2000ad and are quick to jump to conclusions and attribute blame, especially when it's to do with something
    we love, so perhaps I've been harsh in my judgement of DB, but I suppose it's part and parcel of his position.

    So, DB, if I ever meet you, I'm gonna give you a nasty Chinese burn, but then I'll buy you a pint afterward.

    I've gone a bit off topic as usual...

    Thanks again, Paul. It's been a blast.

    Rgds

    OrLoK Tzar
    (my old RPG name from the 80's based on the only character I thought was cooler than Dredd.)

    By Blogger OrLoK, at 3:27 pm  

  • Ta for all the graft, Paul - and feel good about leaving a resource that others may make use of!

    By Blogger BristleKRS, at 3:59 pm  

  • An awesome job well done. Congratulations on finishing, and good luck for the future!

    By Blogger Robert, at 4:57 pm  

  • Congratulations and thanks for giving me something to read.

    Cheers!

    By Blogger g23, at 7:57 pm  

  • Well, I have to admit I'm slightly disappointed you made it to the end; I'd secretly been hoping you'd experience thrill power overload and go out in a zarjazian blaze of glory!

    But thanks for an entertaining read over the years and don't forget to read the later Bill Savage and Button Man stories which are both up there with all time 2000 ad classics...

    By Blogger Tam, at 8:27 pm  

  • Thoroughly enjoyed this. Good work dude.

    By Blogger Reds, at 8:44 pm  

  • So long, Paul, and thanks for all the Progs, er Blogs, er slogging away so diligently.

    Florix grabundae!

    ps can't wait for the final installment of 'There's no Time Like The Present'!

    By Blogger alexf, at 9:44 am  

  • Well done, Paul, it's been a real pleasure reading this!

    By Blogger Patrick Hudson, at 10:42 am  

  • It is a sad moment indeed. I've enjoyed the heck out of this blog and it is truly going to be a hard act to follow.

    But i'll do my best to honour the spirit of the slog while adding my own spin of madness to it.

    By Blogger David page, at 1:00 pm  

  • Well done, Paul! May your lawgiver always fire truly! And thanks again for inspiring my own 2000 AD blog, which has been a blast.

    By Blogger Grant, the Hipster Dad, at 12:40 pm  

  • Even the spambots are sad its over.

    (By the time you see this, dear reader, Paul will have deleted the spam, and this post will make no sense.)

    rgds

    L

    By Blogger OrLoK, at 5:26 pm  

  • I haven't been reading the Slog the last few months but did used to read it and had fun doing so as I was reading some back progs as well. Thanks a lot!

    By Blogger Simon C, at 3:46 pm  

  • By Blogger HaroldM22, at 3:51 am  

  • Congratulations, Paul, on the prog slog. I kinda only caught on once you'd gone past where I'd stopped or else I might have commented more frequently. So many happy memories, though - I've really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the issues I did read.

    Best wishes with all your writing in the future.

    Robert

    By Blogger Robert, at 5:28 pm  

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