Publication Dates: 26 February 77 – 1987
Number of Issues Published: 443 (#1 – #535)
Color: Color cover;
Mostly black and white interior
Paper Stock: Newsprint
Publishing Format: Was Ongoing Series
Numbering continued in 2000 AD and Starlord (IPC, 1978 series) #86.
Publication Dates: 22 August 1987 – 15 October 1996
Number of Issues Published: 478 (#536 – #1013)
Color: Colour cover
Dimensions: Tabloid size (dimensions varies during title’s run)
Numbering continued from 2000 AD (IPC, 1977 series)#1 – #85, #178 – #535.
Numbering continued in 2000 AD (Egmont Fleetway, 1997 series) #1014 – #1204.
2000 AD is a weekly British science fiction-orientated comic. As a comics anthology it serialises stories in each issue (known as “progs”) and was first published by IPC Magazines in 1977, the first issue dated 26 February. IPC then shifted the title to its Fleetway comics subsidiary which was sold to Robert Maxwell in 1987 then Egmont UK in 1991. Fleetway continued to produce the title until 2000, when it was bought by Rebellion Developments.
It is most noted for its Judge Dredd stories, and has been contributed to by a number of artists and writers who became renowned in the field internationally, such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon. Other characters in 2000 AD include Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog and the ABC Warriors.
2000 AD has been a successful launchpad for getting British talent into the larger American comics market.
A long-running theme is that the editor of 2000 AD is Tharg the Mighty, a green extraterrestrial from Betelgeuse who terms his readers “Earthlets”. Tharg uses other unique alien expressions and even appears in his own comic strips. Readers sometimes play along with this; for example, in prog 201 a pair of readers wrote to Tharg claiming that they preferred to be called “Terrans”; the resulting controversy ended in Tharg’s accepting a challenge for a duel at a galactic location.
Another running theme is Tharg’s supposed use of robots to draw and write the strips — some of which bear a marked resemblance to actual writers and artists. A fictional reason for Tharg to use mechanical assistance was given when the robots “went on strike” (reflecting real-life industrial action that occasionally halted IPC’s comics production during the 1970s and 1980s). Tharg wrote and drew a whole issue himself, but when he ran it through the quality-control “Thrill-meter”, the device melted down on extreme overload. The offending issue had to be taken away, by blindfolded security guards, to a lead-lined vault where there was no danger of anyone seeing it accidentally.
In December 1975, Kelvin Gosnell, a sub-editor at IPC Magazines, read an article in the London Evening Standard about a wave of forthcoming science fiction films, and suggested that the company might get on the bandwagon by launching a science fiction comic. IPC asked Pat Mills, a freelance writer and editor who had created Battle Picture Weekly and Action, to develop it. Mills brought fellow freelancer John Wagner on board as script adviser and the pair began to develop characters. The then-futuristic name 2000 AD was chosen as no-one involved expected the comic to last that long.
Mills’ experiences with Battle and Action in particular had taught him that readers responded to his anti-authoritarian attitudes. Wagner, who had written a Dirty Harry-inspired tough cop called One Eyed Jack for Valiant, saw that readers also responded to authority figures, and developed a character that took the concept to its logical extreme, imagining an ultra-violent lawman patrolling a future New York with the power to arrest, sentence, and if required execute criminals on the spot. Meanwhile, Mills had developed a horror strip, inspired by the novels of Dennis Wheatley, about a hanging judge, called Judge Dread (after the reggae and ska artist of the same name). The idea was abandoned as unsuitable for the new comic, but the name, with a little modification, was adopted by Wagner for his ultimate lawman.
The task of visualising the newly named Judge Dredd was given to Carlos Ezquerra, a Spanish artist who had worked for Mills before on Battle on a strip called Major Eazy. Wagner gave Ezquerra an advertisement for the film Death Race 2000, showing the character Frankenstein clad in black leather, as a suggestion for what the character should look like. Ezquerra elaborated on this greatly, adding body-armour, zips and chains, which Wagner originally thought over the top. Wagner’s initial script was rewritten by Mills and drawn up by Ezquerra, but when the art came back a rethink was necessary. The hardware and cityscapes Ezquerra had drawn were far more futuristic than the near-future setting originally intended, and Mills decided to run with it and set the strip further into the future. By this stage, however, Wagner had quit.
IPC owned the rights to Dan Dare, and Mills decided to revive the character to add immediate public recognition for the title. Paul DeSavery, who owned Dare’s film rights, offered to buy the new comic and give Mills and Wagner more creative control and a greater financial stake. The deal fell through, however, and Wagner walked. Mills was reluctant to lose Judge Dredd and farmed the strip out to a variety of freelance writers, hoping to develop it further. Their scripts were given to a variety of artists as Mills tried to find a strip which would make a good introduction to the character, all of which meant that Dredd would not be ready for the first issue.
The story chosen was one written by Peter Harris, extensively rewritten by Mills and including an idea suggested by Kelvin Gosnell, and drawn by newcomer Mike McMahon. The strip debuted in prog 2, but Ezquerra, angry that another artist had drawn the first published strip, quit and returned to work for Battle.
A large number of British comics creators have worked at 2000 AD including:
– Dan Abnett
– Simon Bisley
– Brian Bolland
– Alan Davis
– Garth Ennis
– Carlos Ezquerra
– Gerry Finley-Day
– Neil Gaiman
– Dave Gibbons
– Alan Grant
– Brendan McCarthy
– Mike McMahon
– Mark Millar
– Pat Mills
– Alan Moore
– Grant Morrison
– Peter Milligan
– Kevin O’Neill
– Bryan Talbot
– John Wagner
– Kev Walker
– Chris Weston
A sampling of the many strips that have appeared in the publication:
– The ABC Warriors
– Ace Trucking Co.
– Bad Company (first appeared 1986)
– The Ballad of Halo Jones (first appeared 1984)
– Big Dave
– Button Man
– Dan Dare (first appeared 1977)
– Durham Red
– Flesh (first appeared 1977)
– Harlem Heroes (first appeared 1977)
– Indigo Prime
– Invasion (first appeared 1977)
– Judge Dredd (first appeared 1977)
– Lobster Random
– MACH-1 (first appeared 1977)
– Maniac 5
– Nikolai Dante
– Nemesis the Warlock
– Really and Truly
– The Red Seas
– Rogue Trooper
– Second City Blues
– Sinister Dexter
– Skizz (first appeared 1983)
– Strontium Dog
– Tyranny Rex
– The V.C.s
– Zenith (first appeared 1987)