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Author Topic: 2000 AD in Stages  (Read 7444 times)

Leigh S

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #15 on: 24 July, 2019, 02:57:50 pm »
Obvious ones are 127 and 178 - The Judge Child may have been chuntering on, but 178 is cearly the first jumping on prog not inspired by a merger - free gift and everything!

Frank

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #16 on: 24 July, 2019, 03:45:10 pm »

1/ All The Old Dudes

Most of the stories are written by the same characters supplying IPC's sport and WWII-based comics with 4-pagers, using the same style and with the same imagined audience in mind. The strips sometimes only have a single sci-fi element but stuff like Invasion could run in Battle.

I find much of this period unreadable, and it lasts at least until the Starlord strips and Robohunter double the Wagner/Mills quotient overnight but probably stumbles along sometime into the late hundreds. If you're being hardcore, it doesn't end until Mean Arena is put out of its misery.


2/ Don't You want Me?

Sometime around the 200s, the Tullys and the Hebdens are needed to repel the Nazi advance/foil Birmingcastle FC's title challenge and 2000ad settles into a long(ish) period where everything's coming up Wagner, Grant, Mills & Moore and everything's pitched at either an older or (slightly) more sophisticated reader.

The only significant exception is Rogue Trooper and Gerry Finley-Day, but his stuff reads a lot like Wagner/Grant's punchy comedy-action stuff without the occasional flashes of brilliance that convince you there's more going on than meets the eye.



3/ Hand In Glove

Readers lose Moore and many of the best artists but are compensated by the arrival of Milligan, Morrison and Smith and enjoy a brief period where the best of two generations of British talent are producing great work alongside each other albeit in very different styles and with completely different audiences in mind.


4/ Oh Well, Whatever, Never Mind

Anyone who knows which end of a pen to hold gets Toxic Vertigo and Tharg replaces them with creators who've washed up from Marvel UK, Deadline/Crisis and US comics. The comic is largely unreadable again from late-Rave era to Fiddy Cent/Strokes time.


5/ Take Me Out

Morrison and Abnett iron out the wrinkles in their work and Tharg mines the UK small press/indie scene and his letter pile for aspiring writers who have grown-up reading 2000ad to supplement the now completely returned Wagner & Mills.


6/ Dance Wiv Me

The new-hires get really good and start occasionally showing up the old/mid-guard, then leave to write stories about folk getting their tights and their Tardises in a twist.

7/ Shake It Off

Mills & Wagner are delighted to discover they're getting a cheque from the government every month whether they think of something new for 40 year old characters to do or not and decide to make more time for learning Italian cooking and drinking Spanish beer.

Tharg's efforts to replace the departed newcomers results in the realisation he's probably exhausted the pool of people who grew up reading 2000ad who can also write for 2000ad and starts looking further afield, first to UK writers who haven't written comics before and, currently, to US creators who fancy having a go at 2000ad.




MumboJimbo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #17 on: 24 July, 2019, 04:42:17 pm »
Even here, things aren't necessarily neat, though.  Pure 100% jump-on progs are sparse in the early years: it goes something like 1 - 86 - 335.  You can imagine the tabular way of representing the data gets too deep if you allow the stage to go for too long.

I would say the following could also be taken to be jumping on progs:

  • 119 - First arced logo, ABC Warriors starts (but Dan Dare is a continuation)
  • 127 - Tornado merger
  • 178 - Second (chrome) arced logo, all new stories

Still haven't found a jumping on prog in the 200s though!

Funt Solo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #18 on: 24 July, 2019, 04:43:48 pm »
Thanks for kind words: I didn't know if anyone would care for this sort of project.  Frank sort of nails it in terms of a grand overview.

---

Looking at this first stage again through a slightly different lens, it's notable (especially for modern readers) how different early 2000 AD is from modern.  Here, I've color-split the thrills to show how Barney has them indexed as separate, smaller segments within a larger narrative:




Looking at Invasion as a key example, there are 23 separate Barney entries for the first 35 progs (which inside the prog are all just titled as simply "Invasion").  Each tells its own mini-story.  These 23 segments have four writers (Pat Mills, Gerry Finley-Day, Nick Allen & Nick Flynn) and eight artists (Jesus Blasco, Pat Wright, Sarompas, Ian Kennedy, Mike Dorey, Carlos Pino, Eric Bradbury & Luis Collado), which are not necessarily split neatly within the storytelling narrative.

You find a similar story with Dredd, Harlem Heroes, Flesh and M.A.C.H. 1: multiple artists and writers shoulder the work, and even longer stories within the larger narrative don't get provided a single artist.  For example, Robot Wars has four artists split over the 9 parts, and then not even sequentially.  Ian Gibson does the work in progs 14 & 17, for example.

This entire first stage is before creator credits (which start in prog 36), and this pragmatic approach to getting thrills out (just use any artist!) was very much the nature of comic creation at the time.  The benefits are clear: you get the thrills out on time.  The downside is that you lose narrative cohesion and a strong, consistent artistic vision.

Standing out, then, is the heroic Massimo Belardinelli, who provides the first 23 progs of Dan Dare.
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MumboJimbo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #19 on: 24 July, 2019, 05:00:02 pm »
Looking at this first stage again through a slightly different lens, it's notable (especially for modern readers) how different early 2000 AD is from modern.

As someone who started reading in the early 300s the early progs feel like a completely different world to even '83 2000 AD. The art style is very different and there's a luridly violent, punkish tone to it. However, from the quick look I've seen of the insides of prog 86, the Starlord merger prog, that doesn't look a whole lot different to progs 4 years later. The drawing style is a lot cleaner and there's a more considered pace to proceedings. Dredd looks like Dredd and not some bulbous insect in bondage gear.

BTW - very much enjoying your work here so far Funt.

Leigh S

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #20 on: 24 July, 2019, 05:38:30 pm »
I started at 195 and those early progs seemed very different to me - I'd say a good trigger point was when all the stories were definitely set in a much removed future setting? so no more MACH 1 or Invasion, Colony Earth or Project Overkill?


Looking at this first stage again through a slightly different lens, it's notable (especially for modern readers) how different early 2000 AD is from modern.

As someone who started reading in the early 300s the early progs feel like a completely different world to even '83 2000 AD. The art style is very different and there's a luridly violent, punkish tone to it. However, from the quick look I've seen of the insides of prog 86, the Starlord merger prog, that doesn't look a whole lot different to progs 4 years later. The drawing style is a lot cleaner and there's a more considered pace to proceedings. Dredd looks like Dredd and not some bulbous insect in bondage gear.

BTW - very much enjoying your work here so far Funt.

Tjm86

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #21 on: 24 July, 2019, 06:22:31 pm »

Still haven't found a jumping on prog in the 200s though!

One possibility would be Pirates of the Black Atlantic since it leads into Apocalypse War.  Another would be Portrait of a Mutant possibly, especially considering how seminal that story was.

Leigh S

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #22 on: 24 July, 2019, 06:47:52 pm »
234(?) when Ace Trucking Co turned up following the appearance of Nemesis in 222 and Rogue in 228?

Funt Solo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #23 on: 24 July, 2019, 07:29:26 pm »
Stage #2: Settling In (progs 36-85)

Prog 36 marks a jump-on of sorts and takes us into a phase that necessarily answers the question of what happens when the original thrills start to reach their natural conclusions or dry up.  As 2000 AD flourishes, it's stable-mate Starlord is merged in (hatch, match, dispatch) for prog 86, which marks the beginning of the next phase...




Inferno
This follow-up to Harlem Heroes realized that the algorithm "Basketball meets Rollerball (minus motorbikes, plus jetpacks)" should never have subtracted the bikes.
This series really marks the end of the narrative, but there's a reboot of sorts when the much-maligned "The Harlem Heroes" launches in prog 671 (12 years later) featuring entirely different characters.

Invasion
Cockney rebel Bill Savage continues to defend Britain from invading Russian Volgans using sassy language and a shotgun.
While this marks the end of Invasion, the prequel (Disaster 1990) shows up in the next phase and then the saga gets rebranded (26 years later) and woven tightly into the Millsverse in Savage, starting in prog 1387.

M.A.C.H.1 / MACH ZERO
The Bionic Man crossed with 007 replaces itself with the Bionic Man crossed with the Hulk: the story of MACH ZERO is far less 007 and much more Frankenstein's monster.
MACH ZERO has a brief return in 1980 and M.A.C.H.1 gets rebooted (29 years later) as Greysuit in prog 1540

Judge Dredd
What look like two epics (in Luna-1 and The Cursed Earth) still follow a very episodic structure.  Luna-1 is just the setting (not a visible title), and we get 13 separate stories before Dredd returns to Earth.  The Cursed Earth is much more a planned saga. 
Continues in all subsequent stages...

Bonjo from Beyond the Stars
If you remember when Scrappy Doo got added to Scooby Doo, you might form a realization of why Bonjo is in the prog.  It's a fairly harmless, partial page strip about a moronic alien.  This kind of shorter (page count) content aimed at younger minds continues for a while in different guises.
Barring some specials action, this never returns.

The Visible Man
Answers well enough the question "What if this science toy was a real dude?"
You might think this was it, and for 34 years you'd be right because this doesn't return until the Prog 2013 seasonal special.

Walter the Wobot
Single-page stories about the titular Walter.
Apart from some specials action, this run exhausts the format.

Colony Earth
An evil Gort-a-like tries to enact a climate change genocide of Earthlings (to make way for its masters).
One run and done.

Death Planet
Colonists try to colonise a homicidal planet.
One run and done, although the idea of a planet that hates you is revisited at least twice: in Ace Trucking's Too Many Bams (progs 273-278) and much later in Zombo (progs 1632-1639.)

Ant Wars
Them!: giant ants meet humans with predictable results.
One run and done, but ... don't get too comfy.

Robo-Hunter, Verdus [part 1]
Sam Slade (predictably now, that's S-L-A-Y-E-D to you) and his sidekicks create a new genre: robo-noire-com.
Of all the new thrills in this stage, this one's the stickiest: it seems to puff out of existence half way through the story, but it shoulders its way back in the next stage.

No changes:
 - Tharg's Future Shocks More in the next stage...
 - Dan Dare Continues in the next stage...

---

References:
 - The 2000 AD ABC
 - Albion British Comics Database Wiki
 - Barney
 - Touched by the Hand of Tharg
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broodblik

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #24 on: 24 July, 2019, 07:42:02 pm »
I just want to say thank you for sharing this with us Funt. These earlier progs are very much an unknown to mean since I only started reading from around prog 375.

Frank

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #25 on: 24 July, 2019, 07:54:55 pm »
Death Planet
Colonists try to colonise a homicidal planet.

One run and done, although the idea of a planet that hates you is revisited at least twice: in Ace Trucking's Too Many Bams (progs 273-278) and much later in Zombo (progs 1632-1639.)

And The Tenth Planet/Wilderlands (Meg 2.58 - 2.68). Entertaining and authoritative stuff, Funt.






Colin YNWA

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #26 on: 24 July, 2019, 09:13:27 pm »
Stage #2: Settling In (progs 36-85)

Prog 36 marks a jump-on of sorts and takes us into a phase that necessarily answers the question of what happens when the original thrills start to reach their natural conclusions or dry up.  As 2000 AD flourishes, it's stable-mate Starlord is merged in (hatch, match, dispatch) for prog 86, which marks the beginning of the next phase...


Interesting that you see this phase as settling in. I think if we have a division at Prog 36 and I certainly see why, I'd see the phase after as a more unsettled period as the Prog flexes realising the scope of what its got to do to cover the ground. The ebbing away of the opening stories leaves us a much more hit and miss beast.

There are some real highlights, Mach 0, Visible Man and yes I love Ant Wars, Dredd finally really hits its stride with Cursed Earth but its starts to buckle at times.

Still no doubt at all 86 turns things around.

Funt Solo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #27 on: 24 July, 2019, 09:40:30 pm »
Titling these things is tricky, certainly.  We could call this "Teething Trouble": the launch thrills are starting to dissipate and the replacements aren't sticking (but then I don't know if that was the intention).  In terms of what makes 2000 AD a good modern comic: we need strong, known quantities alongside fresh content.

Here we see Dredd making its mark as a core thrill.  If the colour centre pages are a mark of a prestige position, the launch places Dan Dare centre-stage, but Dredd takes over those reigns in prog 46 and remains there until Flesh gets a go in prog 86.  But still, Dredd, who started out as the last thrill in the prog, then takes over as the first.

Another oddity of this era is the 6-thrill line-up, but we're about to see that fade and morph into the more recognisable 5-a-prog that we're used to.
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Funt Solo

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #28 on: 24 July, 2019, 09:59:10 pm »
I've only been including strip content for these overviews, but those without the progs might be interested in the wide array of alternative content that graced the early era of 2000 AD and sometimes isn't visible through great resources such as Barney.

Prior to Star Pin-Ups, there was diagrammatic content in the form of various strip-related Futuregraphs:
(like the Harlem Heroes Power Gear in prog 2 and Mega-City 1 map in prog 3).

Progs 8-11 provided a collectible Flesh card game: in which Squaxx were told to cut up their progs to create the game. 

Progs 19-43 hijacked the cover for Supercover Saga: there'd be an image on the cover relating to a short text story inside (often part of the Nerve Centre).

Progs 26-32 have a (cut and mount) collectible poster series called Futurefocus, which imagines things like a Space Hospital and Star Warriors (which are just Stormtroopers).

Supernova (46-51) is a sci-fi (cut out) card game along the lines of Top Trumps.

Progs 54-57 contain a short-lived series of text stories with a single accompanying image, titled Encounter.

Prog 74 sees the first Star Pin-Up (early name for Star Scans), of Artie Gruber, the villain from Inferno.

Progs 75-80 contain a collectible Cursed Earth game.
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Leigh S

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Re: 2000 AD in Stages
« Reply #29 on: 24 July, 2019, 10:21:44 pm »
"Tooth-ing Trouble"?