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Monday, 13 February 2012

Happy Birthday, 2000AD! From artist and fan Paul Rainey

The cover of Prog 377 featuring Judge
Dredd and Mean Angel by Ron Smith
Name: Paul Rainey

Blog or web site: www.pbrainey.com

Currently working on: 

Thunder Brother: Soap Division, the first two stories of which can be read for free online here http://thunderbrother-soapdivision.blogspot.com, and F.O.E. Magazine, a project that may or may not reach fruition.

I also produced a blog for a few years called the 2000 AD Prog Slog Blog where I re-read and reviewed the first 1188 issues of the comic along with associated publications such as the Annuals, Sci-Fi Specials, Star Lord and The Megazine.

I finished the ridiculous project a couple of years ago but it’s still available to read online here http://progslog.blogspot.com/

First memory of 2000AD

I bought the first issue, or “programme”, when it came out in 1977, which is something that may impress you. However, I was a big reader of Marvel UK at the time and I didn’t know what to make of it. I remember my brain being boggled by Messimo Belardinelli’s colour Dan Dare centrespread but it wasn’t enough to keep me investing my pocket money in it. I think I stopped after three issues, I mean, progs. I thought the free gift, a “space spinner”, was great.

Favourite Character or Story?

It wasn’t for nearly seven years that I began buying the comic every week. I was by then a big Alan Moore fan and I heard that he was writing a new strip for it called DR and Quinch starting in prog 350. Despite really enjoying the thrill, I realised very quickly that I preferred Judge Dredd, Slaine, Strontium Dog and Rogue Trooper.

However, despite initially being an idiot, I did dip in and out of 2000AD between progs 1 and 350. For example, I have a clear memory of reading The Judge Child Quest part 11 “The Hungry Planet” by John Wagner and Mike McMahon. I still consider McMahon’s artwork on that story to be stunning. Later, his artwork on the Slaine: Sky Chariots storyline was even more amazing.

I have a special affection for the story “Dredd Angel” by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Ron Smith which ran between progs 377 and 382 (or thereabouts). In it, Judge Dredd and Mean Machine Angle team-up to save some Judge babies that were onboard a Justice Department ship that crash landed in the Cursed Earth. The strip is both funny and exciting. I remember distinctly a feeling of exhilaration when Mean’s brain washing wears off, he recognises Dredd for who he is and then goes on a head butting-frenzy.

What do you like most about the 2000AD

As far as I am concerned, for at least its first ten years, 2000AD was more creatively vital than, say, Silver Age Marvel, which today seems to be regarded quite highly. When you consider the turnover of characters, ideas and stories in 2000AD during that period, well, it’s amazing. Today, 2000AD could, if it wanted to, continue to flog all of its long-standing characters and concepts in the same way that Marvel and DC do with theirs, but instead, it rotates its most popular strips and ensures space for all-new thrills.

However, the best thing about 2000AD when I read it was its sense of humour. During the eighties, it was one of the most subversive and astutely satirical publications around.

What would you most like to see in 2000AD as it heads to its Forties? 

I would like to see it re-launched as an all-ages comic called 3000AD.

Ron Smith's Dredd-Mean Angel cover is currently being offered on eBay, latest bid at £2250

• This post is one in a series of tributes to 2000AD to mark its 35th birthday on 26th February 2012. More about 2000AD at www.2000adonline.com

2000AD © Rebellion

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