2000AD on the Beeb
Even the BBC is getting in on the act, with an article on the Beeb’s site celebrating the 30th anniversary of 2000AD where Finlo Rohrer looks at “30 Years of the Future“, comparing the SF imaginings of older 2000AD stories against the modern fact of today:
“Imagine a society where cities blend into each other to form massive conurbations. Imagine a society where obesity is rife, mass unemployment is a fact of life and downtrodden citizens will do anything to become rich or famous.
Imagine a society in the grip of such chaos and crime that it is necessary to give law enforcers the power to punish offenders on the spot without a trial and where everyone is constantly surveyed by video cameras.”
Yes, it is Mega City One, stomping ground (and we do mean ‘stomp’) of Judge Dredd, but it is hard not to notice certain similarities with modern societies fighting against public fears of terrorism and violent crime, watching endless reality shows to escape reality (oh the irony) and stuffing their gob with fatty foods until they keel over. Reading the recently released Judge Dredd the Complete Case Files Volume 6 I was brought back to the lunatic genius of The League of Fatties; psychotic citizens who had turned to food as a hobby, making them so grotesquely fat they need bellywheels to help them waddle along. This was quarter of a century ago or so, long before the ‘obesity epidemic’ of today’s media and spin doctors, when we thought this was just a disease Americans got and oh how we laughed at them for it (not so funny now, is it, when we today’s news talks of a young boy already weighing in at fourteen stones and this close to being removed from his mother by social work for his health).
(The League of Fatties by the one and only Brian Bolland for 2000AD)
Speaking about Dredd himself and some of the other classic strips from the early days, Alan Grant remarked:
“Many of the stories we wrote were taken from the headlines of the newspapers. We just put a futuristic spin on them. There were genuine social problems, particularly from the Thatcher days. It was obvious to us that Britain and the whole world was turning into a right-wing society… We were trying to have a laugh rather than make people shiver. I sometimes feel guilty about presenting fascism as entertainment.”
Sadly the article ends on a somewhat negative note, reflecting that perhaps the glory days are behind the comic (and indeed most comics) as circulation figures are but a shadow of the Grand Old Days, with Ian ‘Robohunter’ Gibson musing that “the Playstation has taken over and comics can’t compete“. Well, it is true that when I was knee-high to Dredd’s knee pads we simply didn’t have the number of other free time options kids have today; lacking videos, multiplexes, web or computer games, books and comics were huge for imaginative kids seeking new worlds (and images of dinosaurs eating time-travelling future cowboys too of course) but I’m not sure that is the whole story and I’m not sure there isn’t still a place for comics yet – especially as various media continue to converge, with comics becoming digitised and comics writers being recruited to work on scripting computer games so they have more of a comics-style narrative to go with the glossy graphics. With the right dose of Strontium-90 I’m sure 2000AD will mutate to survive; the 30th anniversary issue – Prog 1526 – will go on sale on February 28th, with details on the official 2000AD site.