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2000 AD

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2000ad -1

A history of the future

2000adsbest

A host of 2000 AD stars

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2000 AD prog 195 cover
2000 AD prog 197 cover
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2000 AD prog 278 cover
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2000 AD prog 302 cover
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Disaster
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Future Worlds

Tharg's Future Worlds

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Jon Davis-Hunt cover
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2000 AD prog 235 cover
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2000 AD prog 24 cover
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The Best of 2000 AD Special Edition

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2000 AD Winter Special

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2000 AD Monthly (Eagle Comics)

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2000 AD Annual

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The long-running science fiction anthology 2000 AD was created by Pat Mills and Kelvin Gosnell of IPC/Fleetway Publications, partly as a reaction to the media outcry over the violent content of IPC's previous action-oriented title Action. Mills and Gosnell reasoned that the public would be less likely to complain about violent acts perpetrated on aliens and robots rather than people. (NB: Volgans don't count as people.) Though the first issue (or 'programme', later shortened to 'prog', as 2000 AD would have it), published on 26th February 1977, cover starred a new version of the legendary space hero Dan Dare, it was prog 2 which gave the comic its longest-running and most popular star, the fascistic lawman of the future, Judge Dredd. Other strips in the original lineup included Flesh (a story about cowboys from the future traveling back to prehistory and harvesting dinosaurs for their meat), the Harlem Heroes (about a team of futuristic sports stars) and M.A.C.H. One (a Six Million Dollar Man knockoff about a secret agent named John Probe who had a computer implanted in his brain and gained super powers from a form of acupuncture with electrified needles!). Later stories in the title's early period included Shako (the story of a giant killer polar bear), the Visible Man (about a man whose skin was turned transparent by accident), Ant Wars (giant insects running amok in South America) and, from prog 76, Robo-Hunter, about a private detective who specialised in rogue robots. Robo-Hunter would go on to become one of 2000 AD's longest running and most popular recurring strips.

2000 AD and Starlord / 2000 AD and Tornado

With prog 86 (October 1978), 2000 AD absorbed its short-lived sister title, Starlord, and gained two more strips which would contribute some of its most popular characters, Strontium Dog (concerning the adventures of mutant bounty hunter Johnny Alpha) and Ro-Busters (a kind of robotic version of the Thunderbirds TV series, with a robot disaster squad headed up by the comedic duo Ro-Jaws and Hammerstein). The former war robot Hammerstein would later become the star of a Ro-Busters prequel series, the long running ABC Warriors, which continues to appear to this day. Prog 127 (August 1979) brought another merger, as 2000 AD was joined by short-lived adventure title Tornado, though neither Black-Hawk nor The Mind of Wolfie Smith really caught on in the long term, both of them being gone within a year or so (Tornado's comedic superhero Captain Klep fared no better, though after his disappearance 2000 AD followed the strip up with Flash Gordon spoof Dash Decent). Another character to appear at this time was galactic thief Slippery Jim DiGriz, since 2000 AD had obtained the rights to adapt some of author Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat books (three were adapted in total).

2000 AD in the 1980s

The early 1980s were 2000 AD's golden period, with Judge Dredd and Robo-Hunter now part of a core of about five or six recurring strips intercut with various shorter-lived series including Meltdown Man, Return to Armageddon and Mean Arena. The other principal regulars were Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons' future war saga Rogue Trooper (about a genetically-engineered soldier on a private mission to avenge his comrades), Pat Mills' sword and sorcery saga Sláine, the anarchic space comedy Ace Trucking Co. (inspired by the short-lived craze for CB radio) and the bizarre Nemesis the Warlock, about an alien revolutionary combatting an oppressive human regime. Creators working on the title at this time included Alan Moore (who made his name at 2000 AD with characters such as Skizz and Halo Jones), Dave Gibbons, Alan Davis and Brian Bolland, though virtually every significant creator to come out of Britain in the last thirty years has worked on, or got their start at, 2000 AD, other notables including Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, John Hicklenton and Bryan Talbot.


Ownership changes

In 1987, the title came under the ownership of Robert Maxwell and had something of a revamp, with a slight change in format and a number of new characters including Grant Morrison's shallow, self-absorbed superhero Zenith. The ABC Warriors (by now relegated to a supporting role in Nemesis) also returned in their own series, but another long-running regular was killed off in 1990 when Johnny Alpha met his apparently final end in the bleak epic 'Strontium Dog: the Final Solution', a story which upset original series artist Carlos Ezquerra so much that he refused to draw it. 2000 AD has never been about standing still though, and the title — though it has had its low points, most notably in the mid nineties (despite, or possibly because of, strips like the satirical Big Dave and the controversial B.L.A.I.R 1) — has mostly gone from strength to strength in the last few decades, with other long-running characters like Russian rogue Nikolai Dante and wisecracking hit-men Sinister Dexter joining the lineup. Since 1991, it has been mostly an all colour publication (black and white stories still appear, but these days that decision is made on aesthetic rather than financial grounds), and since 2000, it has been owned by games company Rebellion, having previously been under the umbrella of Fleetway Editions since Maxwell's death in 1991, when Fleetway was sold by IPC to the owners of London Editions Magazines.

In prog 502 a worried reader (C Merfield, from Cheam) asked the editor, "I hope we're not heading for the future you have been predicting, but if we are, is there anything you can do about it?" Tharg the Mighty replied, "Yes... I can show you what it looks like. Unfortunately, you have to do the rest yourselves."

Similarly, in prog 578 Tharg declared, "The futures that I, Tharg the Cautionary, depict in each week's prog are only several of the infinite possibilities that lie before us all. The quality of life you can expect over the coming years lies firmly in the hands of Squaxx dek Thargo the planet over. It's your world... don't foul it up!"

2000 AD Related Publications

  • From 1983 to the early 1990s, a range of US format colour reprint titles featuring mostly 2000 AD characters (with a few others, such as the Steel Claw, Axa and Cursitor Doom thrown in for good measure) was published first by Eagle Comics and then Quality Comics.
  • Spin-off publications have included the Judge Dredd Megazine, Crisis and the role-playing comic Dice Man, as well as the 2000 AD Poster Progs and the 2000 AD Action Special published in 1992, which mistakenly used a number of IPC characters not at that time owned by Fleetway. One of these characters, Tim Kelly of Kelly's Eye, also appeared intermittently in 2000 AD itself from 1991-1993, until the facts of the ownership situation were clarified.
  • Hardcover 2000 AD Annuals were published from 1977-1990 (always dated the following year, so the first was dated 1978), later followed by softcover 'Yearbooks' until 1994. There were also spin-off annuals including the Judge Dredd Annual (1980-1994, the last few being Yearbooks), Dan Dare Annual (1978-1978) and Rogue Trooper Annual (1990), as well as various Specials, notably the long running 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special, the 2000 AD Winter Special and The Best of 2000 AD Special Editions.
  • From October 1985 to August 1995, many classic 2000 AD strips were reprinted in The Best of 2000 AD Monthly, a companion title which was later relaunched as Classic 2000 AD. There was also a spinoff reprint title featuring Judge Dredd, The Complete Judge Dredd, and later Classic Judge Dredd which was published alongside Classic 2000 AD.
  • Though the annuals are no longer published, since 2000, there is a tradition of 2000 AD ceasing regular publication for three weeks around Christmas and New Year, with a single, oversized and squarebound volume dated with the coming year's date to tide the readership over in lieu of an annual proper. Prog 2000 was the first of these. In 2015, the practice of interrupting the regular numbering was dropped and the Christmas issue became a part of the normal numerical sequence, though it remained triple sized.

On January 21st 2015, Hachette started publishing an eighty-part fortnightly collection of stories from the world of Judge Dredd entitled Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection.

See also: Individual progs list

Strips and characters

Remember Alec Trench

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