I love 2000ad, I’ve always loved 2000AD. While I’m pretty sure I was reading it from prog 1 in 1977 (age 7), my earliest distinct memories of the strip proper start around 1980 (age 10) and the Judge Child Saga, and building Justice-1 out of computer punch cards with my uncle.
In my memory that Punch Card justice-1 was a perfect replica of the space ship, including a Bike bay with tiny paper card based figures of Judges Dredd and Hershy ready to head off on their Lawmasters dispensing justice to the alien and weird.
Pretty sure it was bobbins though, but my point is: 2000AD runs deep.
Getting to draw Dredd was my single ambition for a long long time, though ambition is wrong, it felt like having an ambition to be the first man on the moon – yeah, sure, someone did it, but it could never be you.
Now, of course, I’ve kids on my own. I still read 2000AD and it’s grown up with me – content shifting from goofy childlike dream states to more sombre, serious, adult contemplative stories about mortality (and knob jokes) – like most, I lost touch with it in the early 90s, regained it and am off and on again reader depending on what’s in it and whether I have time. I tried to get my oldest son interested, but it was never his thing. My youngest on the other hand – well, he’s an avid reader, he loves to draw and we’ve subscribed him to the beano. But 2000AD. Well… 2000ad is a smidge too adult for him (a rather large smidge). But, free comic book day bought 2000AD regened.
Now, I’m on record as saying lots of time that I’d love 2000AD to go younger – things I’ve suggested in the past include: shifting the megazine to a younger readership (the meg was always supposed to be the adult version of 2000ad, allowing them both to have a distinct voice, well, let’s accept 2000AD readers will never change, but Meg readers can be broadened? right? that’s my theory) if not that then, you know, selecting reprint material that skews younger and bundling it in to a reprint comic that’s packaged in a way that you can give it away to nephews, neices, sons, daughters, etc or, and this is the real stretch, just launch a cool all ages comic, talk to the guys doing zarjaz and turn that in to a professional publication with kid friendly fare.
Anyway, none of those things are likely to happen, but that said, I was taken aback that, this year, 2000AD decided to to create a younger reader title for free comic book day – and it’s a fun little package. Presented by Jako-Jargo, Tharg’s nephew – it boasts a CADET Strip (great Neil Googe artwork), a Strontium Dog (basically Johnny Alpha gets his licence) an insane-only-from-the-mind-of-Henry-Flint Board Game called Chet Jetstream (a sort of choose-your-own-snakes-and-ladders) a neat little future shcok Humancraft (pretty sure this should be an ongoing series, somehow) and a DR and Quich hijack free comic book day (plus an insanely detailed Intestenauts advert).
Now, I’m glad I enjoyed this, but that’s hardly the point. The point is… what will a typical 9 year old make of it, and for that, I have to ask Thomas… and he says:
“I liked it. No wait. I loved it. It was my favourite thing at Free Comic Day. I like Cadet Dredd Or Humancraft Or DR & Quinch or Chet Jetstream or wait.. that’s all of them. All of them”
So, what next?
Well, he liked Cadet Dredd so I gave him my Dredd book 1 to read, he read the first story and enjoyed it (it’s a bit of a massive book though, so I’m rationing it). I also selected ONE future shock from the Big Book of Alan Moore future shocks (specifically the story about the werewolves in space). Tom loves Goosebumps and I knew he’d enjoyed the twist, and he really really did.
I have no idea what 2000AD’s plans are beyond this, whether this was a clever ploy to get adults to start shoving older material into their kids sweaty hands (after all, you can no buy a fantastic amount of 2000AD reprint material) or whether it’s some under the radar skunkworks test to see if there’s a market for the material.
In either case, it’s good and Tom and I got a lot out of it, I hope 2000AD see there’s a value in an ongoing book like this, Tom certainly loved the anthology format and even though he found a lot of it unfamiliar (he called it “Docter Quinch” before I corrected him) he’s a quick study.
Anyway, well done tharg and all your little editor droids. Here’s to what’s next.