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Author Topic: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age  (Read 6670 times)

Magnetica

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #30 on: 13 February, 2018, 11:30:58 pm »
Well this seems to be a topic we keep coming back to, with at least two earlier fairly lengthy threads on it, so there must be something in it.

I guess it is inevitable that for those who have been reading for decades, there is a huge amount of nostalgia around the Prog and that can have an effect of clouding one's judgement towards it, both in terms of over rating the earlier thrills and under rating newer ones. As an example, I like to think that Dredd could never be as good as it was from say the mid 100s up until say Necropolis. Then I re-read Tour of Duty recently and you know what, it is absolutely fantastic (can't believe it is what 8 years old?). Equally stuff that is held up as classic can actually be a bit ropey (or "of its time" / "aimed at 8 years back in the late 70s / early 80s"). Stuff like the original Invasion, original Harlem Heroes, Blackhawk - even Robo-Hunter has come in for criticism on the Ultimate Collection thread.

And it is certainly true for me, I always feel that the Prog will never recapture what it was before. But the point is, that it is exactly that...a feeling. I remember the sheer excitement as a 10, 11, 12 etc year old when my Prog was delivered with the paper on a Saturday morning and I would read it from cover to cover in bed. That's never coming back.

As I said, its a feeling. When I actually analyse it, there are have been some really good strips around over the  last couple of years and this thread has reminded me of that.

So in the good camp of strips appearing recently we have (in no particular order):

Jaegir
Kingdom
Kingmaker
Hope for the Future
Grey Area
Brink  (best new strip by miles)
Brass Sun
Scarlett Traces (used to dislike it, now think it is great)
Absalom
Sinister Dexter  (ok its not new, but it is still around)
Strontium Dog (as per SinDex)
Dredd when written by Wagner
The Alienist  (caveat - really disliked it before but the latest series was great)

and probably a few more I can't think of off the top of my head.

On the downside we have:

Bad Company   (please just make it stop)

Indigo Prime     (but I have never liked this...ever...but actually the series before last was ok ..but that was 5 years ago now)

Slaine  ( one of my top 4 thrills of all time, but as with ABC Warriors it seems stuck in some bizarre time warp which makes the story edge forward slower than a glacier...and it seems to keep revisting the same few key incidents...if I have to see the wickerman or Slaine's mum being run over again I am going to scream)

ABC Warriors (actually I do like it, and  am enjoying this particular run, but it seems to be stuck in the same time warp as Slaine...I just wish it would move on).

and actually that's it. I have criticised The Order on the Prog thread, but it's actually ok, the only thing is I find it hard to follow...but its nothing a re-read wouldn't solve.

As others have said, I think the main problem is the 10 episodes per year format which has two problems:
(i) it can be hard to remember what is going on and who is who
(ii) strips can take forever (in real time if not page count) to move the plot along. Case in point (apart from Slaine and ABC Warriors) is Brass Sun. I like to think of it as a new strip bit it actually started almost 6 years ago.

So for me, the issue isn't a lack of good strips, it is getting them into the Prog quicker and moving on that is the problem.

As to giving up the Prog...back in the day it never, ever entered my mind. Never even considered it. It is only seeing that forum members with thousands of posts aren't reading it at the moment that has made me think what would it take to stop. And the answer is "a lot". Probably years of uninteresting strips and we are no where near that. Now maybe it is different for someone like me who only reads the Prog and the Meg (with the odd exception like Rok of the Reds, but let's face it that is a 2000AD strip by another name anyway). If I stop then I won't be reading anything. Whereas if you get a load of other comics, may be you can more easily give Tooth up I am guessing.
« Last Edit: 13 February, 2018, 11:36:13 pm by Magnetica »

The Adventurer

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #31 on: 13 February, 2018, 11:33:09 pm »
a) the problem is too much Pat Mills
b) what we need here is more Pat Mills

The eternal struggle.

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radiator

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #32 on: 13 February, 2018, 11:57:41 pm »
Ok, maybe it's a little unfair to single out Mills. It's probably because his strips tend to be intertwined so maybe I tend to lump them all in together, but they just seemed ubiquitous in the period before I stopped reading (and as Magnetica says, seemed to be going over the same material over and over). And rightly or wrongly, they are what I picture when I think of why I fell off keeping up with the prog.

13school

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #33 on: 14 February, 2018, 12:03:13 am »
I think the way it most resembles the 90s is the lack of Wagner. 

Pat Mills is propping up my interest (as he did then) with arguably better quality stuff than his 90s output, but at least there are no Mark Millars to really shit in the gravy

But I do take the point it is competent to a point of blandness at times and desperately needs a bit of oomph that I would have to go back as far as Al Ewing to find regularly  Edgington, Rennie and Abnett are all prefectly competent, but to a larger or lesser extent I'm rarely engaged in the week to week action of whatever strip they are doing.

Couldn't agree more. While I definitely don't think the current prog is getting anywhere near the depths of the worst of the 90s, it's not hitting the highs it used to either. And I'm firmly in the pro-Mills camp - he brings something to the prog that no-one else can.

Andy B

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #34 on: 14 February, 2018, 05:15:46 am »
The main problem for me is dull Dredd. Let’s face it, JD is mediocre more often than not these days: has been ever since DOC. There has been some good stuff, but most weeks it’s just... there. And when that’s the lead off strip every week, it drags everything else down.

Is it totally unthinkable to rest Dredd from time to time? Bring him back whenever somebody has a good idea. Better still, just get back to basics, breaking heads in MC-1. Not enough of that, or of citizens doing weird shit, for a while now. And somehow get Gordon Rennie back! His Dredds are fun. He gets it.

Also, 2000ad could really use a new character, capable of supporting stories of various lengths, and different artists, that can run for more than 12 weeks a year.* Nikolai Dante left a big void that hasn’t been filled.

Easier said than done, though!

* Although, for me, Sinister Dexter does that job well, and I’d be happy to see it every week: but I guess that would be tough on Dan Abnett... Plus, it seems to be inexplicably unpopular with a lot of people.


Colin YNWA

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #35 on: 14 February, 2018, 06:08:18 am »
* Although, for me, Sinister Dexter does that job well, and I’d be happy to see it every week: but I guess that would be tough on Dan Abnett... Plus, it seems to be inexplicably unpopular with a lot of people.

Many of you will know I'm all over this, alas Dabnett just seems to have too much on and possibly Tharg sees that its not too popular. Why is beyond me, its still great.

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #36 on: 14 February, 2018, 06:51:29 am »
I'm mostly enjoying the Prog at the moment, the only real wasp in the mayo being Bad Company, which I'm not liking at all. I'm even sort of into the confusing jumble which The ABC Warriors has become, but that's mainly down to curiosity over whether the bad guy in the big black hat is going to somehow turn into Torquemada.


Fungus

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #37 on: 14 February, 2018, 08:10:11 am »
I'm a bad jumping-on prog from calling it quits. These always get trailed and it's nice to see anticipation of them, but the last 2 and their line-ups have left me thinking... 'oh'.

I adore Simon Davis' art, but Slaine and ABC Warriors have been ruined, now. Bad Company might have a twist (I'm weeks behind and not bothered) but it won't undo the whole.

It seems an objective slump, now. I'm no Tharg, but think a shake-up would/must help. Less quantity (constant reprints, collected editions, US reprints *), more quality. Some people buy only the prog!

* Commercially, obviously I don't know what I'm talking about.

CalHab

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #38 on: 14 February, 2018, 08:37:03 am »
One of the Facebook groups does a poll for the best story in the prog, and for the last couple of weeks I've struggled to pick anything out. I'm sure this is a temporary blip, and there are a few new stories I'm looking forward to (the return of Judge Pin and Jaegir, in particular).

The art has remained of a high standard, and I still read it and enjoy it on the day it arrives, so we're a long way off a "dark age".

JamesC

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #39 on: 14 February, 2018, 08:42:18 am »
The main problem for me is dull Dredd. Let’s face it, JD is mediocre more often than not these days: has been ever since DOC. There has been some good stuff, but most weeks it’s just... there. And when that’s the lead off strip every week, it drags everything else down.

Is it totally unthinkable to rest Dredd from time to time? Bring him back whenever somebody has a good idea. Better still, just get back to basics, breaking heads in MC-1. Not enough of that, or of citizens doing weird shit, for a while now. And somehow get Gordon Rennie back! His Dredds are fun. He gets it.


I think the biggest problem for Dredd is the weird Wagner situation.
It can't be very encouraging for other writers to have this unofficial policy where anything they write is just inconsequential filler while Tharg waits for the next Wagner script to drop. Even something as great as Trifecta has a kind of throwaway quality unless it's referenced or acknowledged by Mr W.
In my opinion the 'if I didn't write it, it didn't happen' attitude is unhelpful to say the least. 

Bolt-01

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #40 on: 14 February, 2018, 09:53:25 am »
I might be wrong here, and if I am then apologies, but the whole 'If I didn't write it, it didn't happen' situation is not an official stance from Tharg, more of a note from John as to his feelings regarding the strip.

Yes, it can be annoying when stories written by other writers don't get referenced (What 'did' happen to the Kazan clone?) but this isn't a new thing. Rennie Dredd was different to Wagner Dredd, Ewing Dredd is different to Carroll Dredd. The key here is to remember that any change we see is really only illusory. Dredd appears to get older and grumpier, but he's been doing that for 25 years or so now.

Personally I remember the late 90's as a time when I would leave the prog at the newsies for a month or so to then read in a chunk. Whereas I still look for the postie every Saturday morning so I can get my hands on the latest prog.



norton canes

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #41 on: 14 February, 2018, 09:54:34 am »
Jaegir
Kingdom
Kingmaker
Hope for the Future
Grey Area
Brink  (best new strip by miles)
Brass Sun
Scarlett Traces (used to dislike it, now think it is great)
Absalom
Sinister Dexter  (ok its not new, but it is still around)
Strontium Dog (as per SinDex)
Dredd when written by Wagner
The Alienist 

I have criticised The Order on the Prog thread, but it's actually ok, the only thing is I find it hard to follow...but its nothing a re-read wouldn't solve

All excellent strips, and all (with the exception of Jaegir?) from one calendar year, so the prog is a long way from a 'dark age'.

But I also agree with this... in case Tharg happens to be reading and is canvassing opinions...

Is it totally unthinkable to rest Dredd from time to time? Bring him back whenever somebody has a good idea. Better still, just get back to basics, breaking heads in MC-1. Not enough of that, or of citizens doing weird shit, for a while now. And somehow get Gordon Rennie back! His Dredds are fun. He gets it.

Also, 2000ad could really use a new character, capable of supporting stories of various lengths, and different artists, that can run for more than 12 weeks a year.* Nikolai Dante left a big void that hasn’t been filled

Professor Bear

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #42 on: 14 February, 2018, 10:00:26 am »
I blame Tharg - you can't keep trumpeting Wagner's return and then expect a bunch of hopeless nerds like 2000ad's fans to not read anything into it.  He knows full well how dreadful we are.

JayzusB.Christ

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #43 on: 14 February, 2018, 10:19:25 am »
To elaborate on what i was saying earlier :

As proven by the rapid improvements after the 90s slump, a good dredd is a good prog.  In a perfect world, John Wagner would be rejuved, and write Dredd  forever,  but it's not going to happen.

When Al Ewing arrived, I thought the Dreddverse had been saved. His one-offs were as good as any Wagner had ever written, and his characterisation of an ageing, tough-but-still-human Dredd was absolutely perfect. His crazy and violent Mega City 1 brought back the good old days of bizarre crazes and a half-cracked citizenry and he kept his eye on the wider sense of continuity and socio-political change in dredd's world.

He was a perfect fit for 2000ad and then he was gone.  Mike Carroll and Rob Williams were great writers but Ewing was unique,  and I'm pretty sure if he returned my doubts about the prog would disappear.
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TordelBack

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Re: Everything comes back after 20 years: The Prog's New Dark Age
« Reply #44 on: 14 February, 2018, 10:21:08 am »
Jaegir
Kingdom
Kingmaker
Hope for the Future
Grey Area
Brink  (best new strip by miles)
Brass Sun
Scarlett Traces (used to dislike it, now think it is great)
Absalom
Sinister Dexter  (ok its not new, but it is still around)
Strontium Dog (as per SinDex)
Dredd when written by Wagner
The Alienist  (caveat - really disliked it before but the latest series was great)

This says it all, really*: pure quality.  I'd add The Order, Deadworld, Survival Geeks and Aquila to this list, and Hunted too (although I got a bit lost in the last run).  And that is one hell of a stable of storis: compared to the aforementioned 'whatever John Smith is writing' sole-positive of the true Dark Age.

I generally don't have a problem picking up stories after a break, so my current issue with the prog is that, with the exception of Brass Sun, none of them are running at the moment, and it's a cold, wet, windy February in the particular corner of a field where I am presently stationed.  And I miss Dante a lot, as the Ultimate Collection is bringing home to me.



*I do enjoy the various Dredd writers, and think we're very lucky to have such a range of talent working on the strip, but sad to sad Wagner remains the gold standard.