A quick sweep of the Internet's horizons, through my Telescope of Nostalgia, tells me 2000 AD is now 35 years old. I must confess I've not read - or even seen - an issue since 1984 but, of course, that's not going to stop me spouting off about it.
The picture on the left belongs to the first issue I ever owned and, after years of viewing British comics as hopelessly inferior to their American equivalents, it was a shock to suddenly encounter a British title that seemed every bit as brash, breezy and imaginative as the Marvel mags I was used to reading. In fact, I was so impressed by it I removed that cover and pasted it into my scrapbook for posterity.
Sadly both that issue and that scrapbook are long since gone from my possession and so I have to rely on hazy memories to do this post.
What I do remember from those early days was a strip called Invasion about Britain after a Russian takeover, although I'm pretty sure they kept referring to the villains as Volgans for some reason.
There was M.A.C.H.1, a strip that so blatantly ripped-off The Six Million Dollar Man it was a miracle they got away with it. There was Shako, the heart-warming tale of a rampantly murderous polar bear, and Flesh, the tale of people going back in time to shoot dinosaurs. The Harlem Heroes, one of my favourites, was a cross between the Harlem Globetrotters and Rollerball.
And of course we shouldn't forget the book's two most iconic heroes; the revived Dan Dare and the newly created Judge Dredd.
Apparently Massimo Belardinelli's take on Dare wasn't popular with the masses and he was dropped from the strip to make way for a revamp but I loved his artwork and it was arguably his Dare strip that did most to hook me on the book.
With its hard-nosed satire, Judge Dredd was of course an instant icon and, if nothing else, gave the world Walter the Wobot, Tweak the thinly disguised aardvark, and Judge Cal's law-enforcing goldfish
Later on, we got Ro-Busters and Strontium Dog, both of which I suspect were imported from the then-defunct Starlord. We also got Nemesis the Warlock, which seems to be very highly regarded although I never much cared for it, never being certain what was going on and not having a taste for the violence of it all.
Other strips that stuck in my memory were one about giant ants on the rampage, that may have been called Ant Wars, Moore and Davis' excellent D.R. and Quinch, and Sláine who was a sort of cross between Conan and the Hulk. When I last read an issue of 2000 AD I'm pretty sure Halo Jones was stuck in a giant spider's web. Did she ever get out of it? I suspect she did.
Looking back on it, it's clear that 2000 AD was a book that was happy to shamelessly lift ideas from every source going and not even make an attempt to disguise it but, somehow, recognising its sources was part of its charm, coupled with its sheer energy and swagger. The truth is, to me at least, what 2000 AD most represented was the revelation that, given the chance, British comics creators could easily match the heights of their counterparts across the Atlantic and sometimes even surpass them.
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