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Author Topic: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread  (Read 16435 times)

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #315 on: 19 September, 2017, 09:19:01 pm »
So I hailed 1985 the nostaligia fueled best year to date of Thrillpower but left a HUGE question dangling, could

1986

top it? ...
Bloomin' heck genuinely wasn't expecting it to be this cut and dry.

BEST YEAR IN THRILLPOWER (to date)


So there we have it to date 1985 was topped by 1986 which leds nicely into...

1987

And you know what the momentum might just about be continuing... might. 1987 was all about a changing of the guard. I speculated it might be at the turn of the year (so to speak) and it is, possible even more pronounced that I'd speculated.

Its the year of Pete Milligan, the year of Zenith, the year of Barry Kitson, the year of Democracy Now!, the year of PJ, the hour of the wolf. The year of Hicklenton on Nemesis and Fabry on Slaine, both returned to their former glories. By George its highs match the highs of any year they really do. BUT with new added second generation zing and edge. Its 2000ad truly hitting its teenage growth spurt a few years year.

Okay so it has one stinking low in Mean Team, but we get that every year and while Mean Team for me is as bad a thrill as I can remember (thus excluding Ange... oh whatever that thing with the plane and the chappie and the shoulder thingie was called) there is sooooo much good stuff.

So its clear then, right... well no not quite. See I can't quite shake the feeling that while these new brash johnny come latelys are shaking things up is quite glorious style, and some old wound soldiers* are stepping up to the plate to match, a couple of the classics slip a little.

I've already said Strontium Dog has a bit of a stinker that takes up about 1/2 the year, the shorter stories that follow are an improvement, particularly The Royal Affair - A Sorry Case being pretty weak and The Rammy a bit middling over all its not a good year for Johnny.

Dredd also if I'm honest is a little past the absolute soaring heights of the last couple of years. I mean there are some absolute stonkers, one of which I've mentioned and Raggedy Man, The Bug, The Return of Death Fist, The Beating Heart and of course Taxidermist are up there with the best of any year its just not as consistantly good as it has been for a couple of years prior. Its possible that I'm coloured by Oz starting... but I'll come back to that next year, its not a fav of mine, but I honestly think we're past a peak (one that will return I should say but that's for the future.).

So yeah 1987 soooo close and when its good and I'm looking at you Bad Company, Zenith and Anderson it is so very very good. I'm just not 100% its as good as 1986... but it just might be...

Damnit all this change has left me befuddled!

* Well Anderson in Hour of the Wolf as much as I love it, and I do, its on a pa with some of the excellence that has gone before in a strip that to date hasn't missed a beat. On re-read its clear that Anderson has been consistantly good in a way that few strips match.

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #316 on: 08 October, 2017, 08:44:15 pm »
So befuddled I've taken over 3 weeks off... well of course only off from my 2000ad re-read so I can read other comics (see What's Everyone Reading for my brief befuddlement with Love and Rockets - don't worry it has a happy ending). But I've now finally wrapped up 1987 with a read of the Summer Special (which was interesting but not that special) and the two 1988 annuals.

Both annuals have some pretty top quality stuff, glorious McCarthy (2000ad) and Higgins (Dredd) Dredd, so other nice bits and bobs but so packed with reprint and quizzes and what not that they were slight reads (doing a re-read means I don't need to re-read the repeats so soon and I have Daily Dredds on my reading list so not spoiling those either). As such I've burned through them. The reprinted stuff is pretty high quality. Particularly the Hammerstein War Years stuff in the 2000ad annual but doesn't make for much value these days. Still what little you get is getting better in 2000ad and almost maintaining quality in the Dredd Annual so no real complaints.

And finally we get to 1988 ... if memory serves the ongoing quality bubble might burst sometime in the this year... lets see...

feathers

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #317 on: 10 October, 2017, 03:40:32 pm »
I definitely found 88/89 significantly different from what went before - looking forward to reading your thoughts!

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #318 on: 13 October, 2017, 09:26:21 pm »
So 1988 begins and even before I've opened a Prog (well that's not strictly true but I couldn't be bothered to post this when I first thought this) I've a comment to mither you lot with.

While the cover to 555, the first of 1988 is a classic and I've already dismissed my once favoured chrome log as a failure I'm also not too keen on the early version of the 'classic' logo. In it's original lumpy top left hand corner box it feels a bit solid and obstructive. Just look at Torquemada's face on the cover of 557 (I'll even do a linkie to it below), he's really not happy having it there is he!

http://www.2000ad.org/functions/cover.php?choice=557&Comic=2000ad

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #319 on: 14 October, 2017, 07:53:15 am »
So 1988 starts off with a bit of a confident stance, chest thrust forward and the prog showing of its best features. Its so confident, new logo and all that strangely there's barely a new story to be seen to draw folks in to the new year and new design.

That said the ongoing stories deliever quite a punch and I'm sure even if you are dropped in you'd feel pretty compelled to come back...

....SPOILERS!!!!

Thoth gets the chop.
Danny meets Kano
and Oz has one of its best mini stories as Chopper meets Cookie (even though I'm pretty down on Oz I do love this bit)

And there is a sprinkling of something new and back in the day (I'm going to return to this in a seperate post...) it was pretty magnificent and I remember even as a seasoned reader of both UK and US comics it blow me away.

Yep so strong is 1988 opening line-up Tharg had to limit us to four stories to avois thrillpower overload .... and he couldn't keep it around for long.

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #320 on: 14 October, 2017, 08:17:18 am »
Prog 555 - Art of its time

Okay a one two punch with the posts this morning as I wanted to pull this out. Back in 1988 the art in the first Prog of 1988 was just so special. I adored it, it felt so fresh, powerful and agressive. Ewins and McCarthy (J) is a given, and I exempt them from what I'm about to say.

Elsewhere we have the magnificent John Hicklenton on Nemesis, Will Simpson on Dredd and the newly crafted Bisley Droid on ABC Warriors. Just an incredible explosion of ink and as a 16 year old it blow me away. I remember slavishly copying art from all three of these artists in a deluded hope that they're genius would rub off on me....

...but...

...and I'm nervous saying this...

.... reading now, it ain't all that good....

Now clearly that's said for effect and to get attention, don't worry I won't pepper my post with tiny hard to read postscripts though. Rather I'll admit its bloody magnificently stylish and powerful stuff and to its target audience (me back in the day) it just works. Its problem for me now is two fold.

Firstly the style can somewhat wash away the storytelling, given Will Simpson's career he at least improved on that I think we can say! I find Hicklenton's art particularly guilty of that, and as I've said I do adore his time on Nemesis and his art is big part of that. Key moments however are cramped into busy cluttered panels. The characters acting is so meladramtic as to be distracting at time (though given what's going on in Nemesis maybe that gets a pass!). But yeah all three artists could be accused... okay I'll take ownership of that... I accuse all three artists of style over substance.

Secondly I think, largely because of the above, its dated really badly. Here I'm particularly looking at Bisley on ABC. Looking at it now it just feels so of its time. It had such impact that it feels frozen in its historical place and outdated and clumsy. In many ways, its a year or two ahead of the same thing happening on American comics. sure McFarlane is throwing little lines all over Spidey at this point (I think) but Leifeld and Lee, who will have a similar impact on US mainstream comics are still awaiting their call to Mutant arms. They will make a similar impression on my teenage eye, though their impact on comics will transcent their images and I find the art here (in Prog 1988) far better now than I find the work of McFarlene, Lee and Leifeld, which I now find pretty unreadable if I'm honest. But yeah I see parallels.

So there we go I've said, Prog 1988 had magnificent, fantastic, bloody awful art!

Magnetica

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #321 on: 14 October, 2017, 11:33:53 am »
The main problem I had with Hicklenton’s art on the Two Torquemada’s was it was so different to what had gone before. I think we had been spoilt with O’ Neill’s magnificent design of the Termight, the Blitzspear and the Terminators* and Talbot’s magnificent gothic feel.

For me Hicklenton’s storytelling became even more of an issue on Deathbringer, where there were too many similar looking characters which spoilt the flow for me as I was constantly flicking back ( on my recent reread) to work out who was who (eg. she’s the one with the horizontal stripes etc).

* you will note I haven’t included Nemesis in the “magnificent design” category. I have always thought his neck was bizarre- something Hicklenton takes to extremes far beyond O’Neill’s original design.

AlexF

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #322 on: 16 October, 2017, 03:58:38 pm »
I agree on finding Hicklenton's work on Nemesis Book IX hard to follow, especially in terms of which character was which, but to be honest this is overwhelemed by the tone of his work. His versions of both Torquemadas in Book VII are just so magnificently grotesque that it shines through any clutter or sloppiness with storytelling. As pointed out his version of Nemesis's neck is a thing to behold in itself. I don't how much it was his choice as editor, but I do applaud Burton for getting the likes of Hicklenton and Harrison in to shake things up.

There's no getting around it - the shift in artists played a major part in making 1988 something of a transition year for the Prog. Really curious to see how Colin assesses the year by the time he gets to the end!

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #323 on: 17 October, 2017, 09:24:44 pm »
A few quicks thoughts on early 1988

1. The brilliant line-up at the start of the year ends all to quickly, with both Nemesis Book VII and Bad Company - Bewilderness ending in Prog 557, just three progs in.

2. Love the the Star Scans of the Dark Judges by Garry Leach (Though I had to look up who did them as I can never remember!)

3. The brilliant line-up at the start of the year continues as Nemesis Book VIII and Zenith Prologues arrive

4. I love everything about David Roach's art on Purity's Story except the way he draws Purity - damnit!

5. Is that Stephen Watson's first letter in Prog 559? If only there was some way to tell!?!

6. I can never make my mind up about SMS's art, but Brendan McCarthy's on the Judda storyline is some of his best ever.

7. I've always had a soft spot for Hap Hazzard, even if the story is brilliantly realised (not the art, the art is great) but I love the slice of life nature of it.

8. I forgot how quickly Simon Bisley's art developed and by his return in 563 he's already come on in leaps and bounds.



Greg M.

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #324 on: 17 October, 2017, 09:53:12 pm »
Brendan McCarthy's on the Judda storyline is some of his best ever.

I was just re-reading Oz yesterday (I'm painting up some Judda miniatures and was looking for some reference material) and it's striking how great a visual design the Judda are. They're a perfect example of taking a concept that on paper is moderately cool and pushing it to an entirely different level through artistic interpretation. It's ironic that, despite being fanatical clone-cultists, every Judda is distinctive and original, and their weird tribal uniform variations hint at their own idiosyncracies (I love the one with the enormous horns you see at the start of part 15.) McCarthy said he wanted them to have a Kirby look - I think there's a bit of Ditko in there too though, as the way McCarthy draws their energy shields echoes Dr. Strange's mystic ones.

Muon

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #325 on: 18 October, 2017, 03:26:50 pm »
I agree on finding Hicklenton's work on Nemesis Book IX hard to follow, especially in terms of which character was which, but to be honest this is overwhelemed by the tone of his work. His versions of both Torquemadas in Book VII are just so magnificently grotesque that it shines through any clutter or sloppiness with storytelling. As pointed out his version of Nemesis's neck is a thing to behold in itself. I don't how much it was his choice as editor, but I do applaud Burton for getting the likes of Hicklenton and Harrison in to shake things up.

There's no getting around it - the shift in artists played a major part in making 1988 something of a transition year for the Prog. Really curious to see how Colin assesses the year by the time he gets to the end!

Completely agree with this. I wasn't always sure what was going on in Hicklenton's Nemesis strips, but they always had a brutal, gory fascination to them that had me hooked. It was like he'd genuinely tapped into an alternate universe where everything was even more grimy than the one we had here and where weirdly contorted creatures punched the shit out of each other and sprayed black, oily blood all over the place. I remember going through a spell during Nemesis Book 9 when I thought of Hicklenton as my "favourite" artist. I also remember liking Simon Harrison's art on Strontion Dog. Not sure what I'd make of these things now, but that's how I felt at the time.

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #326 on: 21 October, 2017, 08:14:50 am »
So Nemesis Book VIII - Purity's Story concludes with Prog 565 and it certainly makes for an interesting addition to the Nemesis saga. The inclusion of David Roach's art makes these feel suitably different, but at heart its a great Nemesis romp, almost like a band reforming and playing a greatest hits set.

Interestingly the big trouble it has for me is the thing that made it stand out when I was reading this back in the day. Nemesis revelations at the end read to 16 year old Colin (its target audience its best to remember) like a super cool, deep, insightful revelation. I remember it blew my teen mind. To tried grumpy 45 year old Colin (maybe its typical reader these days) on the 78787 re-read of the saga it feels like a little unnecessary highlighting of what we knew already. It feels like Pat Mills underlining in red pen, three times the key points of what he's been doing with the strip all along. To be honest a proto modern Mills seeming not able to trust the intelligence of his audience (whatever he says in interviews). Made worse by the mind wiping, being a nod and a wink to the reread - nudge nudge this is just between us right, but leaves it all consequence free.

Still immensely enjoyable and glad it exists, just not as relevant to its audience after 30 years... not entirely surprisingly!

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #327 on: 21 October, 2017, 09:18:18 am »
Oh and meant to say YAH! Tyranny Rex starts in this issue as well. Must mean another attempt at Soft Bodies isn't too far off!

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #328 on: 27 October, 2017, 07:52:21 pm »
So well while I was mostly trying to reflect on how much I bloomin' love the first Tyranny Rex story I kept getting distracted. I mean the first Tyranny story is fan... bloody help how much work is work is Steve Dillon doing in the Prog at the moment, I mean in Prog 567 he has 2 1/2 thrills, in 568, 2 thrills... but still Tyranny Rex is Sup... actually I'm enjoying the race in Oz much more than I remember, its genuinely exciting... as is the first Tyrann... shame about Stone Killers, its pretty flat for a Strontium Dog story...

... still at the end of the day when a story is just so fun, with such a sharp edge of humour and looks so great and has a killer concept and execution for all the great (and not so great) distractions in the Prog during this period you can't get away from the fact that Tyranny's debut is really a fantastically superb thrill.

Colin YNWA

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Re: The completely self absorbed 2000ad re-read thread
« Reply #329 on: 28 October, 2017, 08:23:12 am »
Oz

So we crossed the line in Prog 570 and the latest Dredd Mega Epic speeds to a conclusion with a gloriously rendered 10 page final part. man I love Jim Baikie. And with it we get the end of Wagner and Grants partnership if legend is to be believed (though nosing ahead on Barney (which I rarely do, I've been good on this re-read) as I thought they are at least credited for the next few epsiodes) theres much to discuss and that's before I get to rating my Dredd epics to this point which I feel like doing at some point soon (mind maybe I should wait for Necropolis?).

Anyway Oz in and of itself is a Mega Epic I'm pretty down on, but have to say I've enjoyed the second half quite a lot. The start rambles at points and is too rushed at others (that Cursed Earth crossing just didn't work) but as the two story elements collide each on its own merits really works. The Judda storyline is fantastic and its conclusion does feel truly epic without needing to blow up Mega City One as it the fall back these days.

Chopper's challenge for Surf 10 is suitably gripping, a real thrill ride and I do really like the ending, a little clumsy with Dredd himself to serve its aims, but it works cos I wanted it too.

As is often said the two storyline do feel horroribly crushed together and both would have been served so much better by standing alone but hey ho. So yeah not the best Mega Epic but not as bad as I remember, certainly the second half.

Which is a shame as I was going to use this as a platform to say it might have marked a fitting explaination as to why Mr Wagner and Mr Grant decided to part as things might have been getting a little stale. I'm certainly not enjoying  anywhere near as much since Stontium Dog since Rage (well actually the story after, but Rage makes a better reference point)! and arguibly Dredd hasn't been quite as strong... nothing is bad but changing things up certainly seems to bring results as I recall.

 I'm looking forward to seeing how by breaking up the partnership, both have gained all they can from it and each is able to serve their key strips better apart. My Prediction (based on many reads, but this re-read is certainly providing revaluation of a lot of stuff, so lets see) is Dredd will get back to its very best of the next couple of years. I love Grant's ending to Strontium Dog, Anderson of course continues to excell and actually gets better. Lets see if this holds...