Whether it was Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, Halo Jones or Nemesis, any British child with even a passing interest in geek culture will at some point have come across the characters of 2000 AD, and those who picked up an issue would have been well-rewarded. The anarchic history of our most unruly and exciting comic is documented here, warts and all, in this excellent documentary by Paul Goodwin.
We’re shown how the condition of British comics in the 1970s led to the coalition of brilliant writers and artists who were desperate to create something different, edgy and exciting. These were comics that satirised the world of the time, with plenty of ultra-violence and pitch-black humour, and the list of creatives is truly astounding.
It’s a testament to the importance of 2000 AD that nearly all of the now-superstar writers and artists appear to talk frankly and fondly about their time on the comic.
Grant Morrison cheerily recalls his dandy-ish manner rubbing Judge Dredd creator John Wagner up the wrong way, Neil Gaiman remembers deciding to stop writing Future Shocks when he realised just how terrible the rights situation was, Dave Gibbons remembers the work-hard, play-hard atmosphere, and Alan Moore obviously refused to take part.
It’s hardly surprising that the comic became a target for DC talent scouts, who raided 2000 AD to such an extent that Pat Mills is still furious about it.
Both Judge Dredd movies are discussed at some length (Alex Garland and Karl Urban enthuse about the character), but it’s also nice to see some wider topics addressed, such as the long-time lack of female writers and artists on staff, while The Shining Girls author Lauren Beukes remembers the impact of reading Strontium Dog during Apartheid-era South Africa.
The bad is discussed as well as the good, such as the comic’s decline during the Nineties and the publisher’s ludicrously laddish attempts to entice new readers, but the affection for what made 2000 AD great is what really shines through here. It’s not just for fans, but it might make some new ones.