When I started reading the “galaxy’s greatest comic” back in 1977, its title – 2000AD – seemed wildly exotic. At a time when the Sex Pistols were shouting “No Future”, this promised to take us to the 21st century, and beyond.
Obviously its founders never expected the comic to last this long, or they would have chosen a different title. Yet here we are, well into the 21st century, and the comic is not only still being published, but is the subject of a celebratory documentary. Future Shock: The Story of 2000AD screens tomorrow at the Genesis Cinema Whitechapel and is out on DVD on Monday.
2000AD was, in those days, funny, violent, and violently funny, written and drawn by fearless and ridiculously talented Brits who would go on to revolutionise the US comics industry and, indirectly, Hollywood –and my passion for it passed all reasonable understanding. I looked forward to each new issue as teens today might anticipate the next season of Game of Thrones, or the new Grand Theft Auto.
The first thing I did on graduating from Oxford was to hole up in my bedroom for six months writing a (bloody good) role-playing multiple-choice gamebook based on Judge Dredd. I had an agent (AM Heath); a publisher (Penguin); and an agreement from the then editor of 2000AD to license the character with a royalty split. Sadly a new MD swept in, summarily cancelled that permission on the grounds that they were not interested in pursuing anything like a gamebook – and then less than a year later published their own gamebook series called Dice Man, using several ideas that bore a startling similarity (no doubt entirely coincidental) to my own.
Welcome to the real world, fan boy.
So instead of becoming an author, I went into journalism. Comics became my “in”: I acquired a regular review slot in London’s Alternative Magazine, and when I joined Time Out as a sub-editor, I successfully pitched a number of comics-related features – mostly with 2000AD alumni such as Alan Moore – as well as putting the Judge Dredd movie on the cover and using Jamie Hewlett and Brian Bolland as illustrators. At one stage I was sounded out about perhaps becoming the next Mighty Tharg, 2000AD’s editor, which nearly made my head explode – but I was committed to Time Out, and became its editor soon after.
All of which is by way of saying that I might not be the most impartial judge of the Future Shock doc. All the same, to read my review from when it was first screened at the BFI London Film Festival, click here.
And if there are any other fans out there, I still have boxes and boxes of 2000AD, almost the full set from two decades starting in about 1978. If anyone’s interested in buying, get in touch.
One final aside – if you see someone playing poker online under the handle Aaron A Aardvark, that’s me. It you can identify the reference, show the world you’re a clever dick and leave a Comment.