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Author Topic: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!  (Read 1301 times)

Timothy

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #15 on: 24 August, 2022, 08:07:11 PM »
I am probably being thick, but didn’t get the Agnew Stair joke. Could somebody explain the obvious?

Funt Solo

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #16 on: 24 August, 2022, 10:24:07 PM »
The problem is this: the Regened progs aren't as good as Monster Fun (which is targeted more precisely and has, on the whole, better art). The concept of All-Ages is leaving it as this weird half-way house that doesn't satisfy anyone. Are you trying to attract people using the best art? Then why aren't you using the best art?

I've really tried to be supportive of Regened, but it's a bit of a bummer now. It polarizes readers (but, I suppose, who cares what they think), sits in an odd position between graphic content that requires it be meta-policed in households, breaks up the scheduling of the regular stories into weird chunks and it's about as punk as a Noel Edmonds jumper. Now, with Monster Fun launching itself, why can't Regened go it alone? Let it stand or fall - give it some quality resources. (I think it'd have more chance if it was an entirely new branding, though. Cadet Dredd just seems hobbled by a sort of abortive attempt at maintaining canon through-lines. Didn't Phantom Menace teach us anything?)

A nit to pick: the cover says "five thrilling sci-fi stories inside", but Renk is fantasy.

Joko-Jargo's such a Swap Shop-sponsored Blue Peter-approved twee middle class idea. Original Tharg is and always has been a bit of a d*ck. Joko is all friendly and sanitized. This isn't punk. It's not exciting. It's not 2000 AD. (Well, demonstrably, it is - but it's not adhering to its core values.) Why is he not punishing droids, talking down to the readers and publishing their artwork? It's not regened - it's rebooted. Where the f*ck is Mek-Quake? I thought the worst editorial wrong-foot was the charisma-free Men in Black era, but this drowns all of that in a pool of saccharin ennui.

The Cadet Dredd story is okay, but lots of issues flag up. Given that it's set in the Cursed Earth, we see very little landscape - just a vague sense of spikey crags everywhere. Why does it say there's no city walls, then have us drive out of a gate? Why does it say "sealed", when it should say "built"? Is Huge Grunt's mutation being big? Or having a big right arm? It's not apparent in the flashback sequence. Trying to connect the narratives of a tragic upbringing, beset by persecution with miraculously falling into a pig-sty (and then brushing it all off at the end with a "dem's de breaks") is ... hard not to get distracted by.

So, for a hero in Renk they've opted for a one-armed, grumpy dwarf who hangs out in a seedy bar? I suppose that's punk. Best thing about this is the centaur joke. The story here is good, but it could easily be five pages. The entire conjoined twins dance scene could go, for a start.

The Future Shock has a good pay-off line, but I was distracted by this odd notion that money isn't a form of barter. It's the most efficient form of wide-scale barter humanity's managed to come up with. Barter without money is a pain in the arse. It's why money was invented.

Department K felt like a missed opportunity - why were all the other Estabon's hostile? Crisis of Infinite Estabons is a great title, and a superb high concept, but I don't think this pays off well in the delivery. It felt like something should have been done with the Justice Department Software Updates. Maybe he goes haywire and the other Estabons have to save the day, or..?

'Splorers wins best thing here for having superb art and a solid action story. I preferred the first story, though, where the kids took center stage, and the 'dults were more a sort of foil. It took me *ages* to see the threat in the last panel. Ages. I'll call that my bad.

Do any of the young readers this is trying to adopt have any idea what a Sentenoid is? Also not getting the Agnew Stair joke, even though it's been flagged up as a joke.

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IndigoPrime

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #17 on: 25 August, 2022, 08:27:53 AM »
I suspect there are different tactics going on with these comics. We already know Regened bumps sales of the Prog. It also provides launchpads for series later collected in trades. Monster Fun is different in all kinds of ways, although I suspect Rebellion is also going to collect those tales when it’s viable to do so.

FWIW, I finally tried out mini-IP on previous Regened. She quite liked it. She wasn’t bowled over. Like Monster Fun, there’s seemingly something missing for her (or her age group – 8) that she gets from The Phoenix. (Aside from storytelling coherence, I mean.)

Barrington Boots

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #18 on: 25 August, 2022, 09:01:22 AM »
Funt's review really nails it for me. I agree with the 'all ages' thing - as an adult reader the bulk of these is bland and uninteresting, but it always seems to me* that the storytelling and continuity would be a barrier to some younger readers.

Personally I'm always surprised there is less involvement from creators already working in childrens comics. Guys like Tom Paterson or Lew Stringer have been involved in them for decades, yet seem to have been sidelined. As ever I assume there's a market strategy and someone knows what they're doing..

* a guy in his 40s with no children, so ideally placed to comment on kids comics

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broodblik

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #19 on: 25 August, 2022, 09:05:57 AM »
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Trooper McFad

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #20 on: 25 August, 2022, 09:38:51 AM »
Knowing it is aimed at kids and it is way less gritty than the prog, is it just too light hearted?
Just thinking of the content that I enjoyed from the prog back in the early days. And yes it was a different generation. It wasn’t the comedy strips that kept you buying it. I feel they are not that far away from getting the balance right and if they take a punt on it as a monthly stand alone they could even push in one or two longer storylines to develop the new characters.

It could definitely be a spring board for future content and as each (successful) character evolves and matures they could make a staring role in the prog.
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IndigoPrime

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #21 on: 25 August, 2022, 11:13:53 AM »
it always seems to me* that the storytelling and continuity would be a barrier to some younger readers.
Depends how young they’re aiming. Mini-IP couldn’t give a fig about the ongoing strips in The Phoenix when she started reading, but she was really too young anyway. But a bit later, she went back to them and now likes most of them. She’s now 8, and reads and devours basically everything in the comic.

That is absolutely not the case with Rebellion output. She finds the storytelling confusing. (This is a kid who has been comics-aware since age 5 and who reads maybe 20 prose library books per month, including books above her age range, and who happily read through all of Bella at the Bar recently.) Perhaps this is just a one-off and other kids are all fine with the comic, but that strikes me as… unlikely. She also tells me she flat-out doesn’t like some of the Monster Fun stuff. She can’t stand Steel Commando. Leopard from Lime Street has fallen flat. She’s also not happy with the frankly outrageous (for 2022) gender imbalance in the comic. (I wrote in about the last of those things; heard nothing back, although that’s not unusual with comics.)

Regened, oddly, does better than Monster Fun for her. Perhaps it’s because there are more one-offs. I dunno. (Mostly, her feedback is that something is “good” or “OK”.) I think she finds Dredd a bit dull, but readable. She doesn’t care for the school strips. Some of the others have clicked. But the (in)frequency of both comics means she has zero loyalty to them, unlike with her weekly Phoenix and Beano. She was happy to read the collections, but I don’t think subsequently returned to them.

Knowing it is aimed at kids and it is way less gritty than the prog, is it just too light hearted?
That might be a case of changing tastes and trends. Most of mini-IP’s schoolfriends appear to prefer gentler storytelling in TV and comics to what I did in the 1980s. But they will read prose books that are far more sophisticated and much smarter than what I ever had access to. However, again – and sorry to keep banging this drum – The Phoenix might be mostly light-hearted and not bloody – there aren’t sharks eating people – but some of those action strips get pretty heavy, with serious consequences. I mean, anyone reading No Country and thinking that’s a barrel of throwaway lightweight larks needs to have a word with themselves.
 
To my mind, Regened has its moments – some of which are great (Pandora!) – but still has a probably impossible to reconcile lead strip (stickler Dredd, who kids largely won’t root for, because he’s mostly a dick – and even when he’s a hero, he’s still a dick) and too often lacks a spark and an edge; all this is compounded by it only rocking up every few months. I’m still in favour of the experiment and it must be working, given its continued existence and the collections. But I do wish sometimes it’d get a rocket up the bum. (As for Monster Fun, disappointingly, I think we might be done with that, and I’d so hoped to add a third ongoing to the kid’s collection.)

nxylas

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #22 on: 25 August, 2022, 12:07:23 PM »
I am probably being thick, but didn’t get the Agnew Stair joke. Could somebody explain the obvious?
Oh good, it's not just me. I'm hoping it's some pop cultural reference that us oldies won't get, rather than a joke about Spiro Agnew that will leave the kids mystified.
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Proudhuff

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #23 on: 25 August, 2022, 03:21:01 PM »
This^^^ but I couldn't be ersed googling it
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A.Cow

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #24 on: 25 August, 2022, 04:24:17 PM »
I am probably being thick, but didn’t get the Agnew Stair joke. Could somebody explain the obvious?
Oh good, it's not just me. I'm hoping it's some pop cultural reference that us oldies won't get, rather than a joke about Spiro Agnew that will leave the kids mystified.

Looks like a possible reference to the US slave-ower, Judge Stair Agnew (see here), although I'm as bemused as the rest of us about the "joke".

Bad City Blue

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #25 on: 26 August, 2022, 09:19:56 PM »


Looks like a possible reference to the US slave-ower, Judge Stair Agnew (see here), although I'm as bemused as the rest of us about the "joke".

My Grud - that's all it can be, as the story is about a slaver.

What a drokkin' AWFUL reference to put in a kids comic, or even an adults one!

Still better than Skip Tracer tho
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IndigoPrime

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #26 on: 27 August, 2022, 11:05:07 AM »
So I finally read this one last night. I think ‘mixed bag’ is probably the best description. The cover is great (although the typography is not – but that’s been the case on covers since Pye scarpered), and it, frankly, sets up a better story than what we get. Before we get there, though, we have Joko-Jargo, and I agree that he’s an odd choice. It’s one area in which I’d have split entirely from 2000 AD’s history. Why did it have to be another Tharg?

Cadet Dredd wasn’t the worst we’ve had, but I can’t imagine my kid would care about it. The Agnew thing should have been red-pencilled. The twist felt shoe-horned. Dredd’s final comment felt like a reference to standard continuity, but coming from a Dredd that absolutely wouldn’t have said that in standard continuity. So which is it? If this is a soft reboot, make the strip its own thing. Better: ditch it. Find a different star to helm Regened. (If it’s an existing character, Strontium Dog would have been a better bet, judging by the kiddy version we got.) Also: why does Dredd have grey skin?

Renk feels like a missed opportunity. Squint a bit and this strip could be from The Phoenix – and that’s a good thing. Its world-building is solid. The art is very nice. The variety of creatures works well. The broad strokes of the storyline worked for me. What I’d have changed: scrap the dance and jump from “not ringing any bells” to Corundum District, with a “someone gave me a lead” caption. Red-pencil the Leofric getting stabbed by nails from what’s effectively a home-made nail bomb (I mean, come the fuck on, Tharg – really?). That would have been fine as him getting covered in flour, discombobulated and tied up. And then, the biggie: change the lead. This feels very 1970s: yet another bloke old enough to be a reader’s dad. Make Renk a scamp 14-year-old female dwarf (maybe also with a beard – whatever) and it all becomes a bit more interesting. (It would also help deal with Rebellion’s ongoing issue that I bang on about in too often seemingly largely giving up on young girls in the readership.)

Next up: Future Shocks. This didn’t grab me to the degree it did others. I like it. I thought it could run in the standard Prog. But it feels very much aiming at the top end of the readership and the barter point earlier in this thread is well made. Still, it’s mostly smart, it’s nicely illustrated, and the twist at the end works very well.

Department K… I agree with Funt. This is such an odd strip, in that it often has really great ideas that are burned through at speed, whereas the full-length story was fairly standard fare. Honestly, this strip could have been a multi-parter. That said, I still enjoyed this. There were some really fun lines (“I know my place, man.”) and the ending was amusing.

Finally, ’Splorers was suitably grim. It also has a kind of polish and spark that makes it feel like a good fit for the audience. Again, it feels like something that could run in The Phoenix.

Obviously, Regened shouldn’t be The Phoenix. Like Monster Fun, it has to be its own thing. The Beano is old-school rethought, for kids. The Phoenix is, frankly, quite middle class, but has a lot of smarts and variety, from anarchic cartooning to considered and gut-punch action strips like Fawn and No Country. Monster Fun appears to be trying to draw from IPC/Fleetway, in providing a more anarchic alternative to The Beano, and probably a stepping stone to The Phoenix, although, as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not sure it’s there yet. (Big problems with frequency, storytelling coherence, and gender balance.)

So what is Regened? Again, it clearly works for Rebellion. It must be selling well. We’ve had four collections now. Perhaps us old farts just don’t get it. Maybe the kids do like Cadet Dredd. (Although mine doesn’t.) I dunno. Right now, it feels like things are still being through at the wall to see what sticks (which is fine) and the best bits break out into their own series for collection (also fine). But there’s a lot of stuff in there that, as a parent of a youngling who gets other comics, makes me just think: why? This issue, Renk was the big one of those. I think it’s so close to being a good strip, but why did we need the protagonist to be a middle-aged man? Why did someone not step back and think: you know, maybe we shouldn’t have an enemy dispatched by a fucking nail bomb?

It’s really frustrating, because of all the Regened issues so far, this one genuinely could have hit it out of the park, with 100% solid strips. For me, three are objectively good. That’s not a bad hit rate. One is close. Dredd… well, I think there’s no salvaging that version of the character, but someone must like it…

’Splorers > Future Shock = Dept K > Renk > Dredd.
« Last Edit: 27 August, 2022, 11:08:37 AM by IndigoPrime »

Funt Solo

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #27 on: 27 August, 2022, 05:44:56 PM »
Great review-age, IP. You're making me wonder about two things in the Regened progs: one is gender balance (which feels like it might be fair to middling, but I need to check the data), and the other is the age of the protagonists. I know that in order to appeal to readers, you don't have to mirror them exactly, but common sense (never a great start for an argument) would suggest that some youthful protagonists would play well to a youthful audience. The counter-argument to that is 2000 AD (when I was ten) had no youthful characters at all.

One thing I'm noticing is that where a story starts with a focus on youthful or female protagonists, it tends to swing away again fairly quickly. The first Pandora Perfect had a strong focus on the two kids (with, of course, the set-up mirroring Mary Poppins), but subsequent stories have dropped the youth. Cadet Dredd, on the cover of many of the issues, looks young - but when you read the strip he's often depicted as being about the same size and stature as the adults. Department K opens with the focus on Afua (and it seems as if she will be the lens through which we view the story) but it pretty quickly becomes apparent that's not what's going to be happening. The first 'Splorers opens from the imaginary perspective of Jaina and Jacen, but while they have some narrative voice in the second outing, they are really passengers along for the adults' ride (eventually disappearing from the frames altogether).
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IndigoPrime

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #28 on: 27 August, 2022, 06:15:39 PM »
The counter-argument to that is 2000 AD (when I was ten) had no youthful characters at all.
Although that’s the argument of angry balding men on certain Facebook groups who think nothing should ever change. (Note: I’m not for a second suggesting this is you!) Times change. Kids want to see themselves in stories, not who adults think they should see. This is very evident in children’s literature. When I was a kid in the 1980s, it was still primarily full of authors wanting to be Enid Blyton (or whatever), writing what they thought a child’s parents would find acceptable.

Humour comics had of course long moved on from that by then, most notably with IPC/Fleetway (vs DCT’s much more staid approach). Prose books for children, I’m glad to say, are way, way beyond that today. Regened feels… a bit stuck. (It gets part of the way there with young versions of known characters, of course; but they mostly don’t tend to work well, which has merely created a separate and new problem.)

On the strips you mention, I’m OK with Pandora Perfect, who comes across as young (even if she isn’t) and provides gender balance. Having more kids in the mix now and again might help, but this really does feel like “if it ain’t broke” – I wouldn’t want to mess with the best thing Regened’s created. Dredd, though, is all over the shop and – again – relentlessly comes across as as massive dick. I’ve never known anything like this in the comics mini-IP reads elsewhere: a protagonist that’s a fraction away from “Hey kids: DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD.” Just no. (In the 1970s, Dredd worked because there was this bonkers out of control world and Dredd was a futuristic take on contemporary film characters kids would have wanted to see at the time. That’s absolutely not the case with Cadet Dredd.)

What you write on focus, though, really is an interesting observation about the direction of travel. I wonder, in part, if some of this comes from the people writing for the comic not all having enough experience in writing for children’s comics, and those producing it also finding themselves dealing with a different space and audience. Or perhaps it’s that tendency for primarily male creative teams to end up writing about and drawing themselves. I dunno. It is odd now you mention it though.

Again, I’m supportive of everything Rebellion’s doing for kids, in the abstract. But as someone with an 8yo, it kind of breaks my heart that she doesn’t give much of a toss about Monster Fun (and that Monster Fun doesn’t seem to care much about her either, judging by the tiny page coun of strips helmed by female characters) and that Regened doesn’t feel urgent for her either.

(Incidentally, I’ve not done a count on gender in Regened. From memory, it’s certainly better than Monster Fun, which is frankly abysmal for a comic in the 2020s. But I’d be bloody amazed if it’s approaching equality. I’ll very happily be proven wrong on that, of course.)

Funt Solo

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Re: Prog 2296 - Making a stand!
« Reply #29 on: 27 August, 2022, 06:47:57 PM »
The counter-argument to that is 2000 AD (when I was ten) had no youthful characters at all.
Although that’s the argument of angry balding men on certain Facebook groups who think nothing should ever change. (Note: I’m not for a second suggesting this is you!)

Ha! I *tried* to be exactly that, but those Negaverse folk don't like it when you talk back. When one of their more precious members made a sweeping, gatekeeper-ish generalization and I went "oh, look - it's a sweeping, gatekeeper-ish generalization" I was immediately admonished by the Frankenhound and then booted for my temerity (with no explanation of what I'd done wrong). They don't like being talked back to, those folk. You're either singing their favorite hymns, like a cap-doffing lickspittle, or you're out.

Oh well - at least I'm still angry and balding.
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