Restricted as I was to getting comics in newsagents as a kid, no local comics store near me, one thing I could count on getting was 2000 A.D. and its collection of the weird and wonderful.
Published by IPC Magazine in February 1977, I probably started getting it around 1981, and wow it was an experience. This wasn’t the Beano or Dandy (legendary Brit comics if you don’t know) people died in this, sometimes nastily! It was filled with dark and foreboding tales, a healthy dose of humour, though it was pretty black humour, which admittedly went over my head as a kid on occasion, and visions of the future that where equally cool, and terrifying.
I loved that it was edited by the alien Tharg the Mighty, former resident of Quaxxann who addressed us as ‘Earthlets’, his sections of the comic were as much fun as the numerous tales told within. And what tales they were, and by people starting out on comics careers that are now huge industry names in both art and writing.
Pat Mills, who has been a guiding force of the comic through its long life and many owners, was joined by John Wagner, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, Neil Gaiman, with art by Brian Bolland, Mike McMahon, Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, Alan Davis, Kevin O’Neil, Carlos Ezquerra, and many many more. 2000 A.D. was the gestation chamber for modern comics, as much of the talent starting out there went on to craft daring tales with American characters throughout the 80s to the present day.
Some of the characters created within the comic went on to be legends themselves, most notably of course, Judge Dredd. I remember reading Dredd back in the day and being pretty shocked by the fascist policeman, who I’d mistakenly thought was going to be a superhero of sorts…wrong. His environment as well was just hell. Imagining growing up in Mega City One was not a pleasant experience, but everything was written and drawn with such a visceral style I was hooked, and grew to love the Dirty Harry of the future.
Other favourites were, Rogue Trooper, the genetic infantryman, again stuck in an awful war situation, but the tales of desperate battles, betrayal, and his biochip enhanced talking gun, helmet, and backpack, wisecracking and complaining all the time were brilliant. Looking forward to seeing what the new IDW title has in store for the character.
There were so many favourites. Mutant bounty hunter Strontium Dog was a post apocalyptic drama, that surely has to make it to the big or small screen at some point. The Conan-esc tales of Sláine were great with much barbarous slaying of people with big swords and axes.
Other lesser known stories that had me eagerly awaiting each issue were, M.A.C.H. 1, a super spy mix of James Bond and the Six Million Dollar Man, alien freedom fighter Nemesis The Warlock with Kevin O’Neil’s funky art, and ABC Warriors, ass kicking war bots. One character, Sam Slade from Robo-Hunter, a comedy detective series, stands out for one small detail, his robot cigar Stogie, yes you read that right robot cigar :-) The list could go on, Zenith, The Ballad of Halo Jones, a Dan Dare reboot, and on, and on.
Now that everything is digital you should really hit the 2000 A.D. back catalogue for some irreverent sci-fi wonderment, a sort of Heavy Metal with less boobs. I also read Heavy Metal as a kid, mostly for the boobs, after finding a stack of them in a book store, nestled in a street of porn shops oddly enough, I better appreciated the stories at a later date :-)
2000 A.D. was, and continues to be, a great book that opened my eyes to a future that, while I wouldn't necessarily want to live there, it was fun to visit and shoot perps for jaywalking!