2000AD Specials x 3 – The Sci-Fi, The Superheroes, The Scream… (and the whining that followed)

Published On February 10, 2018 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, General

(Judge Anderson art by Tula Lotay)

This summer we’ll see the publication of a special 2000AD Sci-Fi Special. The June publication sees the debut of many new names to the 2000AD stable of writers and artists alongside previously published names such as Alex De Campi, and newcomer Laura Bailey, whose winning entry to the 2017 Thought Bubble 2000AD Writing contest will be published as a Future Shock in Prog 2072.

Among the writers and artists to be featured are the following… Tula Lotay, Emily Zeinner, Alex De Campi, Maura McHugh, Tillie Walden, Katy Rex, Laura Bailey and many more. Which means that for the first time in the history of 2000AD, the entire creative team, writers, artists, colourists, letterers, will be all-female.

The 2000AD press release includes this from 2000AD editor Matt Smith:

‘I’m especially excited to welcome a group of new creators to 2000 AD, most of whom are making their debuts at the House of Tharg. This year’s historic Sci-Fi Special is going to be packed with unique voices and amazing talent.’

And not surprisingly, the news of the all-female creative team on the 2000AD Sci-Fi Special has rather eclipsed the news of two other confirmed 2000AD/Rebellion/Treasury of British Comics Specials for 2018.

First, there’s going to be a new collection of classic superheroing from the 70s and 80s from The Treasury of British Comics. Rebllion acquired the Egmont Fleetway archive of classic British comics from the 1970s and 1980s a couple of years back and since then have been bringing marvellous classics from the past back regularly. This new special will feature some wonderful tales of particularly British superheroics, including The Leopard from Lime Street and Thunderbolt from BusterSteel Commando from Thunder, and Blake Edmonds from Death Wish in Speed.

And after the success of 2017’s Halloween Scream & Misty Special we’ll see another special in October, featuring more wonderfully weird tales from these two particularly spooky comics.

(Henry Flint’s cover to the 2017 Scream/Misty Special)

Now, after the announcement came out earlier this week, we saw a number of responses, mostly positive, about the decision to publish the Sci-Fi Special as an all female special.

There were dissenting voices though, some sensible, such as editor Helen McCarthy‘s response to 2000AD’s announcement….

“What would be really special is for 2000AD to be the first comic with 50/50 male and female staff working together on every issue, that would be futuristic. That would be revolutionary. Celebrating the female gender sounds like another version of putting women on a pedestal, or a high shelf, or anywhere that keeps them from underfoot, why not just employ them regularly, no celebration needed?”

To which Alex De Campi responded:

“They’re working on it, I normally am not thrilled about special all female issues as it’s a form of othering, but knowing the people at 2000AD, they are making a real effort to bring more women on as regular contributors. Witness me on Dredd in the Megazine. They didn’t start me out like “oh, do you want to do Anderson?”, nope, it was straight up here’s Joe, and for your second arc you can have the Dark Judges.

I think they’re looking at this issue as a way of kickstarting bringing on / introducing a lot of female contributors who will stay for the longer term. And I’ll emphasise that Tharg’s door was always open to me, it just took me 10 years to walk through it because of my stupid schedule.”

PJ Holden, an established 2000AD artist, with many runs on Dredd himself, set out the mechanics of the thing on this excellent Twitter thread

I have NO behind the scenes info to give on the 2000ad special only some speculation based on what I know about 2000ad.

2000ad is a grind machine. It churns through pages on a weekly basis and can only do so because most of the people working for it know how it works. Ie the window for letting new people in to 2000ad is tiny-it’s a function served almost entirely by the future shock.

Future shocks are written and drawn outside of the normal publishing schedule though, so if someone lets you down or needs an editorial hand to get their voice to mesh better with 2000ad there’s scope to do that.

The specials are the similair -different editorial team, different much much longer deadlines allowing you to build trust in the creatives involved, trust that they can meet the deadlines and trust that they can create material that fits the brief.

So if you want to bring the ratio of male/female creatives in 2000ad closer to 50:50 your choices are very very slowly one new person at a time over several years or… You use an entire special to hot house a bunch of new talent. (And I feel like I should keep saying this:hot house them to 2000ads voice)

Of course after that there’s a lot of other factors in play, next step for all of these creatives is to start pitching stuff to tharg-that’s a hurdle and a half. They have to avoid being poached by big us publishers (because 2000ad is only one weekly comic and one Monthly and it’s damn hard to make a living even when you’re only doing bits and pieces)

I know Matt, I think Matt will accept a pitch from any one and look at it without prejudice (reminder: 2000ad only publisher you can send unsolicited pitch’s to)

I do think though that many people view 2000ad as a boys club (not helped by some awful ads run in the 90s) and an all woman special might be enough to pursued more people to pitch.

But it needs more: more diverse ideas, more diverse people. I hope we’ll see some of that, not because it’s a Checkbox in the PC list of correct things to do, but because 2000ad is at its best when it’s an ideas machine and I would like that to continue.

(What I’m saying is we’ve eaten nothing but white read for 40years, it’s time we had more stuff in our diet)

So, there were the intelligent responses.

And what everyone is saying is that, yes, it would be great to see 2000AD/Megazine hit a 50/50 gender balance amongst creators (and readers for that matter.) There’s no-one sensibly arguing against that.

And I’ll absolutely join the praise for 2000AD in pushing things forward. The Sci-Fi Special is a great idea, and I hope the press attention means more and more female creators will pitch to 2000AD.

Right then, so much for the news, the intelligent thinking, the sensible stuff. Now to the whining of entitled, moronic, horrible men children online. Because, yes, you and I both knew this was going to happen. And anyone with any knowledge of 2000AD knew exactly where it was going to come from.

Many years ago, when I first decided to fully immerse myself in the world of 2000AD for the FPI Blog, after never really following it week in and week out before, I went the whole hog and joined a couple of 2000AD forums. I lasted maybe two weeks before deciding never to bother again.

Frankly, the levels of bile, prejudice, entitlement, and general whining is just too much. And of course, the announcement of the all-female 2000AD Sci-Fi Special 2018 has brought the men-children out of the woodwork. I could link to various examples of the pathetic responses, but I’m not going to bother. Because they simply aren’t worth the effort.

Having more representation in 2000AD… that’s a great thing. Those whining about it online with ridiculous statements are the minority thank goodness.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

One Response to 2000AD Specials x 3 – The Sci-Fi, The Superheroes, The Scream… (and the whining that followed)

  1. Andy Boal says:

    At its most simple, I think it is something to celebrate that Rebellion has identified enough female writers and artists who can work together to get the interpretation of the characters right.

    Of course, this is all beside the point to me. My personal intention is to buy the special and enjoy it. 27-odd years since I first read a 2000AD, I’ve seen too much third rate nonsense in the Prog written by men, and I don’t think the editorial team would risk this if they didn’t believe their creative team was up to the high standards the readers expect.

    Now, if we could get Rebellion and Hilary Robinson to get on speaking terms to take the completed Chronos Carnival Series 3 off ice (perhaps bagged with the Meg) and Hilary writing again on agreed terms, then we could be in business!