Tuesday, January 13, 2004


Borag Thungg, or if you're not a speaker: Galactic Greetings!

One day in 1977, a small boy, clutching his 15p pocket money, stood in a newsagents pondering whether or not to buy a comic. He stood there and he stood there for a considerable amount of time, until the old bat in a housecoat behind the counter came over and demanded if I was "going to buy the bloody thing or not". I risked eight pence. The clincher was the free gift on the front - a plastic "space spinner", and so my first 2000AD comic was purchased. I wouldn't miss an issue for more than a decade.

The first issue grabbed you by the balls and wouldn't let go. The Russians ("Volgans") invaded Britan, time-travelling cowboys harvesting flesh-eating dinosaurs, a rollerball clone, a six-million dollar man clone and ...err... Dan Dare, an ill-advised revival of the Eagle character. But the real meat didn't turn up until the following week - another 8p gave you another free gift and the first appearance of Judge Dredd.

Make no bones about it, Dredd was a fascist. He rode a big motorbike, never took his helmet off and had a big gun, which he used to blow away criminals in Mega City One employing a "shoot first ask questions later" philosophy. He never smiled, and was supremely ace. Of course, it's the kind of thing that could never happen. (Thanks to Balders for the pic)

The best way to describe the early 2000AD was an orgy of violence aimed at young teens, and being a young teen, I lapped it up. The far too cerebral Dan Dare (only revived to get the old codgers who remembered him from Eagle to hand over their money) was quietly killed off, while the WW3 epic Invasion fizzled out. In its place, following a merger with Starlord (known in our house as Gaylord), came Strontium Dog, another long-runner still doing the rounds today. Then there's Robo Hunter. Rogue Trooper. Halo Jones, and the frankly bonkers sword and sorcery thing Nemesis the Warlock. What the blummin' hell was that all about?

Every now and then, something came up which would completely knock you sideways. The New Adventures of Hitler. What the...? Fiends on the Eastern Front - nazi vampires. Ace Trucking - pants pissingly funny CB radio/convoy rip-off. The whole affair was obviously run by nutters.

Dreddy had managed to get away from the tether of single episode stories with the now classic Cursed Earth/Judge Cal series which formed the basis of the ill-fated movie in which *gasp* Stallone's Dredd committed the cardinal sins of REMOVING HIS HELMET and GETTING A GIRL.

Dredd faced further trials in Judge Death from a parallel dimension and the evil Russians of Sov-City, setting the entire comic right in the middle of the Cold War before 2000AD and I slowly began drifting apart. I began missing editions as the artwork and storylines became shoddy. I began not to care about the characters, and getting into my twenties, I hid my shame by buying pornography to conceal my comic inside.

Only one thing kept me going - the awesome D.R & Quinch. Two juvenile delinquents with a penchants for extreme violence, girls and blowing things up. It was like, man, they completely knew my entire life.

2000AD is still there, with the mighty Tharg at the helm dishing out Thrills to us mere humans from the Nerve Centre, cunningly disguised as Kings Reach Tower in Central London. The artwork and storylines have improved immensely since I've been away, and I confess I still dip in from time to time. The comic, after all, has been the launchpad for some of the great names in comic art and the popular media. It did come as some disappointment, however, to find out that Tharg wasn't really from Betelgeuse, but was in fact some guy in a rubber mask and a bad tracksuit.

I still remember though, the response to a reader's letter in 1977 bemoaning the dearth of good science fiction movies. "Watch out for a film called Star Wars. We think you may enjoy it." Understatement of the decade, though they failed to warn us about Jar Jar Binks, the bastards.

Splundig vur Thrigg, Earthlets.

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