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Author Topic: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide  (Read 541 times)

jrdd

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Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« on: 20 September, 2020, 11:31:27 AM »
Well, the 25th anniversary (:o) of the strip seems as good a time as any to post an update to my SinDex index, which for some reason I keep updating even though it’s all easily available on Barney.  At least if the internet suddenly stops I’ll still know which progs SinDex are in, and you will too if you download it!

It’s quite a chunk of thrill-power, so if you’re wanting a quick re-read to get up to speed, but not sure where to start (other than at the start), here’s how I reckon it breaks down:

The Set-up
Winter Special 1995, Prog 981 - 1126, Sci-Fi Special 1996
These are mostly shorter tales setting up the world and supporting characters, back when SinDex had a permanent place in the prog.  As the series establishes itself there are a few longer form tales, notably Gunshark Vacaction, Murder 101, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Mother Lode And The Red Admiral.

Eurocrash
Prog 1126 - 1199, ‘Annual Prog’ 2000
The first epic tale, bringing together characters and threads established so far.  Also runs in the companion series ‘Download Tales’, which I guess serves as an epilogue to the epic (epiclogue?).  Mission to Mangapore broadens the world seen so far in the series and picks up a few loose ends from Eurocrash.

Planting Seeds
Prog 1200 - 1468, ’Annual Prog’ 2001 - 2006
In a way a return to the original form of the series, with lots of short tales by a variety of artists, some of which plant seeds for what is to come.  I probably need a re-read of this period myself, but recall the final stories that focus on Kal Cutter being particularly thrill-powered as they build to their conclusion and bring us into the next arc...

War of the Moses
Prog 1500 - 1961, ‘Annual Prog’ 2007 - 2014
Possibly a bit spoilery to say, but hard to avoid in a reading guide, this period starts off in another companion series, this time ‘Malone’.  This arc focuses on the alternate universe, something that continues to impact the series today, but by now the series was suffering from less frequent appearances in the prog which I think lost it a few friends.  I found on re-reading it cracked along at a fair pace, in contrast to my expectations.

The Modern Era
Sci-Fi Special 2016, Prog 2000 - 2200
Er, not sure what this arc should be called yet...  but if you want to quickly (-ish) get up to speed this is the period to re-read, and where all the elements that are now coming to a head are put in place (although it does feature characters first seen back in the original ’set-up’ arc).


Collection-wise... coverage is a bit disappointing really.  The Rebellion GNs run to 5 volumes, and combined with the earlier Megazine floppies, cover most (not all!) stories up to prog 1250.  The 2000AD Ultimate Collection runs to 3 volumes and also covers this period albeit fewer stories.  The 7-issue IDW series also covers this period, but focuses on the Andy Clarke illustrated stories (think there is a trade paperback too).

Beyond that, later Megazine floppies started to cover the War of the Moses, including relevant set-up stories from the previous arc, up to prog 1565.

Otherwise you’ll need to dig out the progs (and risk getting delightfully side-tracked by everything else…)

Happy reading..!

broodblik

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #1 on: 20 September, 2020, 11:53:17 AM »
Great thank you for sharing  :thumbsup:
Old age is the Lord’s way of telling us to step aside for something new. Death’s in case we didn’t take the hint.

The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.

Colin YNWA

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #2 on: 20 September, 2020, 01:53:56 PM »
Great summary and if I ever need to I will pull down that spreadsheet (I assume).

I've been tempted to pull out my write up of Sinister Dexter from 8 or 9 years ago now and dust them off and update them for the 25th. They were posted on ECBT 2000ad Blog but I stopped playing there shortly afterwards and don't think they are available there anymore (think they've had to clear down a lot of the older stuff?). I do have my old Google Docs though so would be good to pull them out, reflect on them and post them here and get things up to date. Its interesting that I'd have so much to add.

End of Moses War (reached this in my Prog Slog and still really rate it) and the new stuff, there's much to reflect on.

IndigoPrime

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #3 on: 20 September, 2020, 05:09:17 PM »
You know, it strikes me this could be another Red Seas, in that Rebellion could chuck the entire run out as chunky digital volumes. That supposes there’s a market for this, of course, and that there’s enough digital archive material to work with. (If there is, it would be a relatively simple job to execute, albeit one nonetheless beyond zero effort.

Colin YNWA

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #4 on: 20 September, 2020, 05:59:33 PM »
Yeah that would be a good option. To be fair to Rebellion they have tried things with Sinister Dexter. I thought the IDW series could have worked but alas no and that was surely the last roll of the dice of getting a nice complete Sinister Dexter collection. One day, one day...

Richard

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #5 on: 20 September, 2020, 06:08:47 PM »
If there is a new reprint of Sinister Dexter, then it needs to include Downlode Tales and Malone. The original series of reprints left out Downlode Tales, which was an integral part of the story, so it skipped from Eurocrash (when Sinister and Dexter fell out with each other) and jumped straight to Exit Wounds when they're friends again.

broodblik

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #6 on: 20 September, 2020, 06:56:03 PM »
Sin/Dex has always been a strange series for me. I always find it readable (for me personally not as good as Abnett’s other work and my least favourite of his stuff). Here is my dilemma for long periods it just lingers along on the same wavelength and then suddenly it springs a huge and interesting surprise (like the last panel of the prog 2199 episode). I mostly find the short-format stories frustrating. Just as I want to give up on it, it jumps to the next level and then back to lingering again.
Old age is the Lord’s way of telling us to step aside for something new. Death’s in case we didn’t take the hint.

The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.

jrdd

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #7 on: 20 September, 2020, 09:33:30 PM »
I'm in two minds on the current short-format appearances... It often feels like it never quite gets going properly, but then I do like the slow build-up of the story elements and seeing how seemingly unrelated stories all gradually link together.  I guess the shorter runs also help allow for a number of appearances over a year and on balance I’d rather that than have a book-length series only for it to then disappear for 2 or 3 years.

broodblik

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #8 on: 21 September, 2020, 05:17:47 AM »
That is interesting problem, go for the short format or do a series at a time and then only have it every 2-3 years. Currently we have about 20 plus series running, compared to the “golden age” we only had 6 series rimming.  Scheduling these things is not the easiest of jobs.  I am not sure how long the current arc of Sin/Dex will run and how it is scheduled.  Let us see but accordingly to the reviews the current arc has some interesting, twists and turns.
Old age is the Lord’s way of telling us to step aside for something new. Death’s in case we didn’t take the hint.

The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.

sintec

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #9 on: 21 September, 2020, 08:55:55 AM »
You know, it strikes me this could be another Red Seas, in that Rebellion could chuck the entire run out as chunky digital volumes. That supposes there’s a market for this, of course

Well I'd certainly buy that. I was a bit disappointed that the extension to the Ultimate Collection didn't add any more volumes. Having only started buying the Prog at 2100 it feels like I'm missing a huge chunk of story between the end of the 3rd Ultimate Volume and the current episodes.

MumboJimbo

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #10 on: 21 September, 2020, 10:46:34 AM »
This is great stuff, many thanks for taking the time to do this, as I’ve been thinking of trying to catch up with SinDex but wanted to focus on the main arcs rather than the initial standalone stories.

Off topic, but reading this and the recent Meg encyclopaedia, the double naming of progs 2000-2016 is a real pain in the arse when it comes to things like this, and Barney of course. Can we come up with an easier way for the whole forum to agree on? I would humbly suggest the Xmas specials be prefixed for a Y (for “year”). So prog Y2013 would be the Xmas special that came out at the end of 2012 and prog 2013 would be the regular prog that came out in 2017.

broodblik

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #11 on: 21 September, 2020, 10:51:50 AM »
Using Y is fine, X will also do. But I always it strange how these numbering systems started and then it was changed because it caused a clash
Old age is the Lord’s way of telling us to step aside for something new. Death’s in case we didn’t take the hint.

The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.

AlexF

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #12 on: 21 September, 2020, 01:11:30 PM »
Collecting Sin Dex is clearly a gamble for Rebellion. They're popular characters so merit collecting, but everything they've tried so far hasn't really worked. I guess they were cherry-picking what they thought were the best stories (or perhaps, for the early days, the least-worst artists), and never got quite enough sales to keep on going. Then they ballsed up the Eurocrash volume by missing out Downlode Tales. That set of Meg floppies collecting everything from, roughly Progs 1450-1550 is cracking comics, though!

So while completists like me would jump at the chance to buy (digitally or physically) a collection doing everything it's likely that not enough people would take the plunge. Perhaps something for them to try if/when they finish their mammoth 'Complete Future Shocks' collections...

I don't know how Abnett was thinking about it at the start (if at all), but there's more episode-to-episode continuity than first appears in SinDex, even in the very early years. But it's a bit like Dredd but less famous - a first collection would be not great, getting slowly better until about volume 4 being the really good stuff. How many people are going to invest in that kind of long game, though?

Oh, and big thanks to JRDD for maintaining this spreadsheet! Super helpful.

broodblik

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #13 on: 21 September, 2020, 01:13:18 PM »
I still think that a Complete Collection can work. I still find it strange that a popular strip did not get more collections
Old age is the Lord’s way of telling us to step aside for something new. Death’s in case we didn’t take the hint.

The pen is mightier than the sword if the sword is very short, and the pen is very sharp.

PsychoGoatee

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Re: Sinister Dexter - a 25th anniversary reading guide
« Reply #14 on: 22 September, 2020, 12:32:38 AM »
For sure, would be nice to have. I have those older DC trade paperbacks of the first three collections, which omit a few progs here and there. Cool write-up by the way.

Since it caught my eye in the first post, is the story from Sci-Fi Special 1996 anything of note? Is it a classic, or something that is ok to omit? I ask just because odds are I'll never read it, but now I'm curious.  :D