Monday, February 12, 2007

1997 to 2000AD

2000AD is one of Britain's longest-running weekly comic books, with this month marking its 30th anniversary (the cover date of the first issue was my fifth birthday, pointless trivia fans). I first got into reading it in 1983, and in one way or another the comic was an important element in my life right up until I moved to Australia in 1997.

Ludicrous exchange rates and limited availability meant that when I first arrived here it became clear I wouldn't be able to continue reading it. An aborted attempt to pitch a Judge Dredd novel a couple of years ago, however, coupled with a healthier dollar-to-pound ratio led me once again to pick up the comic and its monthly companion, the Judge Dredd Megazine. Since then I've been availing myself of the magic of ebay to get hold of the issues I missed - it's a slow job, with around 400 missing numbers of the weekly alone to track down, but I'm getting there.

At the moment I'm reliving the very late 90s, and aside from the obvious nostalgia there have been a couple of surprises as I browse my back issues.

First up was finding an ex-girlfriend photo-referenced by an artist into several strips, her likeness used as the face of a supporting character from the comic's lead story, Judge Dredd, spun off into her own series. I did know about this back then, actually, but it had completely slipped my mind, so turning a page to see her looking back at me - albeit depicted as completely bald - was a bit of a jolt.

Then, in another recently acquired issue, there was a letter written to the comic's faux-alien editor, Tharg. Now normally I don't bother reading the letters page - with eight years of strips to catch up on, plus my 52 Books in a Year project, there just aren't enough hours in the day. But the name of one particular correspondent leaped off the page as I breezed past it: my brother.

I'd no idea he'd written in (presumably he really wanted whatever the freebie was on the letters page). He's never mentioned it. His double-entendre-heavy missive, however, shows all the promise you'd expect from someone who was to become an editor of children's magazines at the BBC ... I imagine if his future employers had read it, they'd not have let him anywhere near the Tweenies with a bargepole.

It's doubly strange that these two incidents should occur now, since I've also been talking recently to a fellow writer who may, by a bizarre coincidence, have been working in the very same office as me 12 or 13 years ago. It wasn't at 2000AD, but it was roughly the same time as I began work experience in the comics industry with a number of different publishers. Needless to say we missed each other completely, with no inkling that our paths would cross in the future.

This time next week, I'm sure I'll find out that I regularly caught the bus with the artist of the first Dredd strip I ever read, and who now cooks short orders at the coffee shop round the corner from me.


(By the way, you can scoot over to Vicious Imagery now and find a selection of interviews with 2000AD's creators, running all through the 30th anniversary month and fascinating for those with a love for comics history).


Anonymous Buicks said...

Should have said Pete. I would have sent them to you from the UK

4:25 AM  

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