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2000 AD => General => : Link Prime 05 November, 2021, 01:12:07 PM

: Writers Block
: Link Prime 05 November, 2021, 01:12:07 PM
Supply chain, Brexit, ageing readership, cover price, distribution - as with all publications, there are a few threats on the horizon.
2000AD may have a unique one though.
I'll prefix this post with the usual rambling; There is a lot of top tier entertainment to consume out there with movies, streaming services, video games, novels etc, and as I get older I've noticed that my tolerance for the "passably good" has reduced considerably.
You have to keep hitting the home runs to stay off the bench as it were, and I've become quite a ruthless coach.
Without hesitation I'll stop a movie 10 minutes in, stop playing a game after an hour, stop buying a comic series after one poor issue.
The only break, say, a Netflix show might get may be because I'm watching it with my partner and she's enjoying it.
           
I've voiced dissatisfaction with 2000AD in the past couple of years, and all other considerations aside, my main problem comes down to the quality of a significant portion of the writing.
As it stands in November 2021, many of the reliable greats are semi-retired, retired or 'gone':
- Wagner, despite pleasantly surprising us with quite a few weeks of Dredd this year (and The Citadel on the horizon for 2022), has a vastly reduced input.
- Mills has left, and possibly (probably) won't be back.
- Grant seems to have retired, although I can't recall if that was officially announced or not.
- Smith is MIA, could potentially return, but even if he did, how prolific would his input be?

Who do we have left with regular contributions?
Top tier are probably Abnett and Rennie. Both very prolific and consistent.
I would also highly rate Carroll, Edginton, Williams and Kek-W although they would be more prone to missteps.
I'm sure there a few others that could be considered solid, but that's who comes to mind for me anyway.

After that? I dunno. I can't say that anything from the newer Droids, from the past 5 years or so, has Thrilled me in any memorable way.
And if that's where we stand right now, how will things look by 2025, 2030?
We're only an unfortunate coronary thrombosis or two away from a potential significant further drop in writing quality.
Will another break-through talent like Ewing or Spurrier add a bit of spice to the mix? I would sincerely hope so.

I've mentioned a couple of times in the past two years that I was considering pulling the plug on 2000AD, but always returned from the precipice.
It can offer at least one or two decent reads a week (I'm currently enjoying Scarlet Traces and The Out) and the artwork, covers, colouring, lettering and production values are consistently excellent.

There is also a very long connection there that I find difficult to break.
39 years right now, by next autumn I will have read / partially read every consecutive Prog in 40 years.

Look, it's all subjective I know, and I read Prog reviews on this Forum every week by very sound fellow boarders who are lapping up pretty much everything they get.
FFS, maybe it is just me.
: Re: Writers Block
: CalHab 05 November, 2021, 01:53:23 PM
Personally, I think the prog is doing pretty well and has been for some time now. Certainly when you look back at where it has been in the past then we have no cause for complaint.

However, I do worry that the prog isn't trying enough new writers or giving the new guys enough time to learn. Do they need more coaching than the current bare-bones editorial staff can provide?
: Re: Writers Block
: Richard 05 November, 2021, 02:04:20 PM
2000AD has been consistently good for years. It's an anthology, so you shouldn't necessarily expect to like everything in it, but I think it's fine if three out of five strips work for me (it's usually more). There are new writers of good quality such as Ken Niemand. Maybe you're just old and jaded?
: Re: Writers Block
: IndigoPrime 05 November, 2021, 02:07:32 PM
I dunno. The Prog has for years now been on a relative high for me. And when I go back and read the old classics, some of them are a chore. Of the writers Link listed, Wagner is, to my mind, the one the Prog most misses. His terse, simple Dredds are always a joy, and his Strontium Dog is much missed. Mills? Well, I loved re-reading Nemesis I–IV recently, but the rest of that series was an increasing chore, through to the painful conclusion, and his output has been more miss than hit for a long time, for me.

Grant? I dunno. I don’t mind his stuff, but—like with Mills—little of it has really clicked with me in recent years. Smith? His mad genius is missed, but it was only sporadically in the Prog anyway, and Devlin’s in good hands now. In fact, I’m happy with the current writers, on the whole. I might gripe about certain things in the Prog, but I’m happy to keep paying for it, and it’s very rare I don’t read it within the week it rocks up.

That said, Abnett better not have a coronary.

 
: Re: Writers Block
: broodblik 05 November, 2021, 02:23:00 PM
The prog personally has been in a good space for me the last couple of years with little dips in form now-and-then.

Generally I am quit happy with the quality of writing and yes maybe more new talent would be nice. The names you mentioned Link wrote for along period almost 100% of the content and that is 3 or 4 writers we talking about. So in that sense the prog is much better off.

The main criticism I have is also a very positive point: Too many ongoing series which I would like to see in the prog which in many cases have years between series.  I rather wait and have a more to chose from than  getting  tired of the same series  repeating itself.

I will miss Wagner and Smith as well but Mills unfortunately has been writing the same story over-and-over again. His latest stuff is quite weak. Abnett, Rennie, Niemand, Edginton, Williams, Kek-W,  Carroll and Kot the prog/meg is in good hands. 

Even if you look at guys like TC Eglington and Guy Adams that do not write that much for the prog has brought us two great series - Thistlebone and Hope.
: Re: Writers Block
: wedgeski 05 November, 2021, 02:40:42 PM
I don't tend to miss the OG droids as much as some here (although you can certainly feel their presence when they return, both in the prog and around this place), but I share your concern that the prog is hugely dependent on a couple of talents. Or rather, that when the prog hits a boundary, you can reasonably depend that one or two of them were behind the bat. I also worry about Mr. Abnett and burn out, but I trust he'll put on the brakes if he needs to.

It's a funny old world when we complain that 2000AD has only *just enough* triple-A contributors. They're here, they're healthy, and they're making the prog amazing. For now I'm very happy with that.
: Re: Writers Block
: Funt Solo 05 November, 2021, 02:56:21 PM
I'm not really buying the golden years argument these days. Mills (in case anyone hasn't noticed) has become obsessed with conspiracy to the point that his narration is way too obvious for the story to be engaging, and his noted tactic of re-frying his old characters and their stories has led to a staleness. Grant was never as good solo as he was in the team-up. Wagner is always solid - but we can't rely on a single script droid to keep the boat afloat - he's earned his lube.

I've way more to say about modern writers and how good they are, but work is a-calling...
: Re: Writers Block
: Colin YNWA 05 November, 2021, 03:40:26 PM
There's a simple statistical point made from your opping post Link Prime - though far to say you are setting examples - in the old school you put Wagner, Mills, Smith and Grant in the top tier. I'm sure you might a couple more if you were being exhaustive.

In the current crop you have Abnett and Rennie with another four just below and offer the fact that there might well be a couple you missed (I can think of some but lists will vary). I think we have better writing in the comics overall than we have at just about any point.

Its fair to say then that exposes the fact that you want more these days. Overall in most media quality as improved (music of course being the excpetion! Well i'm an old indie kid!) so sustaining isn't enough. The comics has to improve - constantly to keep pace.

As stated above I think it is. I enjoy the branching out to all ages, but get that isn't for all. So yeah its you. That's absolutely fine, its not a bad thing. If 2000ad fandom is anything its a broad church, one of my fav things about it. As we get older time for many becomes more precious and you have to become more selective. I have wittled down so much in my past-times, by and large I have comics left, and bits of TV, bits of film, bits of music and sport BUT I still mainline comics. Its just the way I prefer my entertainment.

In that I still think 2000ad is the best thing out there - almost because I don't like some stuff - cos it allows me to try new stuff, while typically have a stabble base. So I can not like say Slaine - haven't for years - but that's fine as I have Sinister Dexter (yes I'm being demonstative of the variation in fandom!) but at least I'm trying Slaine.

So I genuinely don't think its a drop in quality - just the opposite from my cheap seat - but the point about competition is entirely right and if it loses out for you - well we'll have the memories and you can still play here hopefully!

oh and

The main criticism I have is also a very positive point: Too many ongoing series which I would like to see in the prog which in many cases have years between series.  I rather wait and have a more to chose from than  getting  tired of the same series  repeating itself.


Defo this.
: Re: Writers Block
: IndigoPrime 05 November, 2021, 04:36:54 PM
Ongoing series are an issue, like broodblik says. Edginton is particularly bad for that. I’d love to know what’s going on with Brass Sun in particular. Is it just gone? Is it coming back?

As for the old days, I wonder whether people forget that for lots of periods in 2000 AD’s history, it wasn’t 100% end-to-end goodness. Quite often, you’d have a few great strips and a couple of clunkers. Sometimes those clunkers would be written by the top-tier, under pseudonyms. Other times, they were fun enough then but wouldn’t past muster now.

Of course, everyone’s truth is their own. But for me the Prog is in rude health right now.
: Re: Writers Block
: Jim_Campbell 05 November, 2021, 09:31:48 PM
Ongoing series are an issue, like broodblik says. Edginton is particularly bad for that. I’d love to know what’s going on with Brass Sun in particular. Is it just gone? Is it coming back?

I don't think those lonnnng runs of Brink are doing INJ Clubcard's schedule many favours where Brass Sun is concerned…
: Re: Writers Block
: The Mind of Wolfie Smith 05 November, 2021, 09:49:39 PM
well, personally, from a purely writing perspective, i think that this era of the prog is the weakest that it has ever been. revisiting the hachette collections has just reinforced this.
for example, reading moore, wagner, morrison, milligan, in the prog, back in the day, at or near the start of their careers, was to have absolute certainty that these would go on to be definitive, genre-defining and globally renowned. when did the prog last present a young writer we felt like that about? i'm finding the writing in shift, where character is clearly a more important concern, much more rewarding at present.
so, while art is a particular high right now, the scripting is comparatively poor.
comparatively.
because it's all still very, very, very good.
but comparing with golden ages is never a good idea.

(all only imho, obviously).
: Re: Writers Block
: Jim_Campbell 05 November, 2021, 10:01:12 PM
well, personally, from a purely writing perspective, i think that this era of the prog is the weakest that it has ever been. revisiting the hachette collections has just reinforced this.

I'm not sure this is true. I appreciate that your opinion is exactly that, but just off the top of my head Abnett/Culbard's Brink, Edgington/D'israeli's Scarlet Traces and Rennie/Coleby's Jaegir are thrills that could stand with pretty much anything the prog had to offer from the glory days of (insert your run of progs past here).
: Re: Writers Block
: Richard 05 November, 2021, 10:30:56 PM
I would add Hope... and Kingdom to Jim's list.
: Re: Writers Block
: The Mind of Wolfie Smith 05 November, 2021, 10:34:17 PM
of course there are brilliant exceptions in the present. and i still love and admire 2000ad!
but there is never a straight-up straight-through all-quality prog like 466, for example, with wagner/grant on dredd and ace trucking, grant in imperious form on strontium dog, a grant morrison short story, and alan moore on halo jones book 3. this kind of stratospheric writing roster was the norm back then. and even the old school pith of gfd and alan hebden had a compellingly punchy craft.
: Re: Writers Block
: IndigoPrime 06 November, 2021, 12:04:21 AM
Horses for courses but I thought The Doppelgarp was bloody awful. I don’t remember the shorts in that Prog, mind.
: Re: Writers Block
: AlexF 08 November, 2021, 09:16:36 AM
Talking of giving new writers a chance, isn't that a secret part of what the Regened progs are? Future Shocks all well and good, but if you can write an all-ages story that ALSO floats the boat of cynical 2000AD stalwarts, is there a better proving ground?
For me, I'd say the Regened creators succeed about as often as they fail.

I agree with the basic point that 2000AD is only a couple of major players retiring/dying from being in trouble, but I disagree that this is a new phenomenon - that's kinda how it was back at the start, seems to me.
: Re: Writers Block
: IndigoPrime 08 November, 2021, 09:31:14 AM
I think we should perhaps also consider the difference between someone being missed and the Prog being in trouble from their absence. John Wagner’s regular input is missed, for sure, but I’m not convinced the Prog directly suffers from it in a wider and meaningful manner. The one thing that has become messy without his involvement is the ‘showrunning’ (for want of a better phrase) of Dredd, which now appears to be running several somewhat contradictory timelines simultaneously. Then again, see also: most ongoing comics.

(What remains quite odd, though, is my favourite non-Wagner Dredd writer is still using a pen name…)
: Re: Writers Block
: The Bissler 08 November, 2021, 11:51:47 AM
Ongoing series are an issue, like broodblik says. Edginton is particularly bad for that. I’d love to know what’s going on with Brass Sun in particular. Is it just gone? Is it coming back?

It's hardly up to date information, but I'd asked about this on the Judge Dredd Tat and Chat Facebook group last year and Mr Edginton replied "Yep, there is more coming! Mr Culbard and I both got side-tracked with other jobs, not to mention life in general getting in the way but there is more Brass Sun, Stickleback and Scarlet Traces in the works plus some new material to boot!" I've chanced my arm and asked him for an update! Like you I'm eager for more!

Link for reference:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/388712724794261/posts/1133857273613132
: Re: Writers Block
: broodblik 08 November, 2021, 12:04:31 PM
Great news thanks for the update Bissler
: Re: Writers Block
: The Bissler 08 November, 2021, 12:20:05 PM
You're very welcome, I'll post any reply I receive here as well.
: Re: Writers Block
: credo 08 November, 2021, 03:49:53 PM
I've not read the prog weekly for years, coming back into the fold only thanks to Rebellion's outstanding commitment to collected volumes, so I may well have missed something ...

... but what happened to Robbie Morrison? Dante and Shakara then ... nothing?
: Re: Writers Block
: CalHab 08 November, 2021, 03:54:40 PM
Currently writing crime novels, and doing rather well by the looks of things:
https://bloodyscotland.com/announcements/announcing-our-2021-prize-winners-craig-russell-and-robbie-morrison/
: Re: Writers Block
: JayzusB.Christ 10 November, 2021, 02:48:38 PM
I really, really want to like the prog these days but it's just not grabbing me as much, to the point that I occasionally forget to buy it, which would have been utterly unthinkable 10 years ago.  But I will add that i think it probably is me, and not Tharg - there's too much content out there these days; TV is in a golden age and of course there's the internet.  I haven't enjoyed much of Pat Mills' stuff for a very long time and I miss the feck out of John Smith.

Wagner's occasional Dredds are as brilliant as always, though, and Ken Niemand fills the Dredd gap in a way that no one has done since Al Ewing.  I remember some creator or other saying that 'if the Dredd is good, the prog is good' and it's kind of true. 
: Re: Writers Block
: Funt Solo 10 November, 2021, 06:48:17 PM
I took an 8-year break for financial reasons and then crammed about 8 years worth into 2 years (or something). I stalled recently due to work commitments being massive - so I'm at prog 2239, just coming out of a strong phase and coasting a bit.

Removal Man (Dredd), Aquila and Chimpsky's Law are holding it together against the weaker Dep. K and Skip Daddy.

In the sequence before that, we had Feral & Foe (II), Thistlebone (II), Visions of Deadworld and Dredd's Penitent Man - all very strong, and supported by a three part Intestinauts.

I'm finding more to celebrate than decry in the modern prog.

 
: Re: Writers Block
: Magnetica 10 November, 2021, 11:54:51 PM
I think the Prog is pretty good right now.

It’s certainly no where near the 90’s nadir.

The art has always been great.

It has always relied on a small number of writers. Back in the “golden days” you could easily have had three strips in a Prog by Wagner and / or Grant. And one by Mills. And one by Finlay Day or Tom Tully. It’s not that much different to how it is now.

I also think there is a huge amount of nostalgia is attached to how the golden age is viewed. I am currently re-reading a strip I would easily have put in my top ten in Ace Trucking and to be honest it’s actually not that great. For a comedy strip it’s just not that funny. And the action is just ok. And I’m on the better stories before it lost its way. But the art is amazing.

I have branched out other comics now such as Shift, The77 and Spacewarp and for my money none of them come close to 2000AD.

: Re: Writers Block
: 13school 11 November, 2021, 03:59:20 AM
This is a tough one. I definitely think the writing in current 2000ad is remarkably consistent (and has been for a number of years now) - if you're in tune with what it's serving up, then the prog has been having a very good run of late.

Personally though, a large part of what appeals to me about 2000ad has always been the wild, out-there stories you can't find anywhere else, and that - to me, and I'm sure people can cite recent stories that have delivered these kind of thrills for them - has been lacking a bit of late. I'm still getting 2000ad, but I find it's currently piling up rather than being a must-read each week.

To be honest, I can't see this changing any time soon either. Reliable writers are hard to come by, and the current crop seem to be doing everything right as far as delivering solid thrills. At the moment the prog has found its groove, and I seem to be situated just outside of it.
: Re: Writers Block
: AlexF 11 November, 2021, 09:35:32 AM
I know what you mean about there not quite being those 'this is totally OUT THERE' thrills, but for me I think it's a problem that can only be solved by finding new writers and artists. In this week's Prog (2257) we actually DO have three thrills that, for me, qualify as things I could never get anywhere else...

...but they're all by people whose work can't help but feel familiar because I've been reading it for 20 years.
Rennie and Reardon on Diaboliks are delivering whiny druggies and demons in London, and it's very much my thing. I do like London-based stories, it's comforting and fun (especially when it veers away from the bloody East End and gangsters. It's a big city, y'know, not just one square mile!)
Edginton and D'Israeli are putting as many possible Worlds at War as they can in Scarlet Traces, and it's gorgeous.
Abnett and Harrison on the Out take the cake by having an entire episode set in and about a Bowie analogy staging a planet-scale concert. This is probably the most 'wow, that's different' thing in the Prog, but even this has precedent (looking at you, Max Megadoom / Douglas Adams), and even the ways it's new are very Abnett-y and Harrison-y.

...so I can't see how Tharg or anyone could do any better, until such time as a new voice turns out to be good enough at actually crafting comics to be publihsed. Stewart K Moore is kind of doing it for me, artwise. He's got a fluidity that I don't think Ive seen before in 2000AD, and I love it. Put HIM on Skip Tracer and maybe it'll actually break out of its blandness?
: Re: Writers Block
: Mister Pops 11 November, 2021, 07:12:28 PM
I really, really want to like the prog these days but it's just not grabbing me as much, to the point that I occasionally forget to buy it, which would have been utterly unthinkable 10 years ago.  But I will add that i think it probably is me, and not Tharg - there's too much content out there these days; TV is in a golden age and of course there's the internet.  I haven't enjoyed much of Pat Mills' stuff for a very long time and I miss the feck out of John Smith.

Wagner's occasional Dredds are as brilliant as always, though, and Ken Niemand fills the Dredd gap in a way that no one has done since Al Ewing.  I remember some creator or other saying that 'if the Dredd is good, the prog is good' and it's kind of true.

I find myself in the same boat* as you Jayzus. Lockdown only exacerbated my proglapsing**, and I have on occasion just given up until the next jumping on prog. It's not at the heights of about a decade ago, when Dante was climaxing***, Day of Chaos was incubating and SHAKARA was SHAKARAING, but looking at the rapidly metastasizing Forum's Favourite Thrill threads, it's clear the prog has been in far lower places than it is now.

Also, I'm glad Pat Mills has left*. Most of my proglapses** have occured while he was in the prog flogging one of his dead horses.




*too soon?

**that 'g' there is doing important work

***stop it you
: Re: Writers Block
: Funt Solo 11 November, 2021, 09:32:29 PM
while he was in the prog flogging one of his dead horses.

You're clearly getting confused with Igor Goldkind.
: Re: Writers Block
: Mister Pops 11 November, 2021, 10:32:29 PM
while he was in the prog flogging one of his dead horses.

You're clearly getting confused with Igor Goldkind.

ZOUNDS! I have fallen for one of the classic blunders!
: Re: Writers Block
: JayzusB.Christ 12 November, 2021, 10:26:24 AM
I find myself in the same boat* as you Jayzus.

*too soon?



Frankly, I'm disappointed it took you so long.  :)
: Re: Writers Block
: sheridan 12 November, 2021, 12:24:07 PM
(What remains quite odd, though, is my favourite non-Wagner Dredd writer is still using a pen name…)


As Middenface might say: "I dinnae ken what you mean"