Category Archives: 2000ad

ABC Warriors – animated trailer! (2009)

Rebellion have finally got around to bringing the 2000AD site online again after its revamp. Haven’t really had much of a look, but what I have seen looks pleasing to the eye. One thing they link to is this – an ABC Warriors trailer. No other information really, so don’t know if it is just a showreel. The only other info of any worth on Firestep films is here;

Anyway, here is the trailer. Looks good (though could have done with more ABC Warriors…);

2000AD ABC Warriors from Firestep Films on Vimeo.

2000ad – Garth Ennis enthuses, a flickr tribute, plus a new site dedicated to the art of the 2000ad (2009)

Garth Ennis writes a warm and heartfelt tribute to the ‘Galaxy’s Greatest Comic’, praising the early years of the title. If you have any interest in the comic, or Ennis, you should take a look at it;

And when you have done that, have a look at this flickr page that accompanies / is a response to the text;

While we are on the subject, a new blog dedicated to a piece of 2000ad is up and running – covering the art and covers of the comic, it is here;

and I would urge you to check it out.

Cradlegrave is the reason I have returned to reading 2000AD after 20 years away (2009)

I think it was the cover (above) of prog 1633 that did it for me. That got my attention, and what followed from that was TWLB reacquainting itself with that fine institution 2000AD. A joy it is too.

I gave up on the comic in 1989, when other things became more important, because 2000AD had just got a lot less interesting. As I recall, Zenith was about the only thing keeping me interested, with Dredd and Strontium Dog leaving me cold (the latter due to the fact Carlos Ezquerra had been replaced by Simon Harrison on art). Also, Deadline and Crisis were titles catering more to my needs. So, after 8 years of reading and collecting 2000AD I canceled my subscription at Deer Park newsagents.

Cradlegrave is a comic strip. For the first 2 issues you would not see anything fantastical or horrific, other than the horror that can be other peoples lives, as Cradlegrave is set in the Ravenglade Estate (nicknamed “Cradlegrave” after the ‘ravenglade’ sign loses a few of the letters and an enterprising soul renames the estate).

It is set somewhere in Lancashire. It follows the story of teenage Shane Holt, who has recently been released from Thorn Hill young offenders institution. What you get is a well paced drama of a young man coming to terms with life outside of the offenders institution and trying to stay on the right side of the law, avoiding falling into old habits, and negeotiating that while keeping on the good side of best mate Callum;

The detail that goes into all this is superb (and the devil is in the details) – like Shanes mom, whose idea of a celebration of his homecoming consists of a few ‘tins’ of lager and a night in front of the television.

Or the scenes at a house party with girls taking pictures of themselves on a mobile phone,

or the relative drama of Shanes dog imminently giving birth to pups, or Shanes attempts to keep his best mate, Callum, onside, but at the same time at arms length. Only slowly does information leak through about why Shane was in prison – for arson – and then at the end of the third installment, we get the first jolt, the first shocking moment. To say more would ruin it and I will say no more, but like the rest of these initial installments it is handled with superior skill – the writing of John Smith and the art of Edward Bagwell combine to give you a fully realized kitchen sink drama of a ‘rough’ estate in England with the blurry unease of terror creeping in from the edges. It is nothing less than superb, and I believe will rank amongst the best stories that 2000AD has ever hosted.

If it was just Cradlegrave, then I would be happy with my decision to try 2000AD once again. But there is more, with recent strip ‘Zombo’s bizarre mix of ‘Lost’ and a subservient, but lethal Zombie on a planet called ‘Deathworld’ providing humour,

gore and throwaway lines about clone love that give the story real depth.
Also, ‘Savage’, which is a long-running sequel to the equally long running ‘Invasion’ from the very early days of 2000AD (it appeared in the first issue, and the test pressing ‘prog 0’). In an alternate future, the ‘Volgans’ (an analogue of the Cold War era Soviet Union) are occupying Great Britain and the rest of Europe, and Bill savage is the leader of the resistance. The strip, one of the few in black and white, is a tense, gritty affair that pays tribute to the early days of 2000ad (and by association, other IPC titles of the time such as Action and Battle) while having a distinctive modern feel – gone are the Invasion tics and tropes of ‘giving the Volgans what for’, replaced with more subtle power plays, intrigue and bursts of graphic violence.

Slaine, after over 25 years of appearances in 2000AD, looks incredible in latest iteration, as ‘Slaine the Gong Beater’;

On top of all that, you need strong Judge Dredd stories to really make the title work, and in the recent ‘Sex Tournament’ strip ‘The Performer’,

and the powerful ‘Backlash’, you have both humour and strong political allegories that are not ham fisted, and for me, were some of the main attractions to the character and his world.

2000AD is getting something right – after the talent drain to the US in the 1980s and early 90’s that saw the likes of Alan Moore, Grant Morrison and Brian Bolland depart the title, the likes of John Smith and the (evergreen) Pat Mills prove that the UK’s longest running Science Fiction weekly is still providing the neccesary ‘Thrill Power’ to us Earthings.

TWLB will keep you posted on 2000AD from now, with reviews and comment.

Futuresport of the past part III – 2000AD loves you!! (1977-1989)

2000AD – the British comic of the future from the 1970s right up until today. One of their favourite themes in the early years was future sport. Early strips in 2000AD had some basis in popular culture (MACH1 was another take on the 6 Million Dollar Man, Judge Dredd a version of Dirty Harry/ Clint Eastwood) and so the first future sport strip ‘Harlem Heroes’ was probably influenced by the commercial success of Rollerball, the 1975 film starring James Caan. It is also worth noting that most British boys comics of the time had sports strips, from ‘Roy of the Rovers’ (who had graduated from ‘Tiger’ to his own comic in 1976) to ‘Look out for Lefty’ from ‘Action’ comic, which also had the prototype for future sport titles, ‘Death Game 1999‘. The strip was written by Tom Tully who went on to create both ‘Harlem Heroes’ and later on, ‘Mean Arena’ for 2000AD.

Harlem Heroes (progs 1-27)

Although I can speculate that the interest in future sports had come from the success of ‘Rollerball’, ‘Harlem Heroes’ was actually a strip based around the fictitious game of ‘aeroball’ that had swept the world by the year 2050;

“It’s Football, Boxing, Kung Fu and Basketball all rolled into one! Players roar through the air wearing jet packs (controlled by buttons on their belts) and score “air strikes” by getting the ball in the “score tank”. One of the top teams is the all-black Harlem Heroes!”
(taken from the first ‘Harlem Heroes’ strip in Prog 1 of 2000AD, 1977)

and the titular team are obviously inspried by the ‘Harlem Globetrotters‘ who had their own Hanna-Barbera cartoon series in the early Seventies.

One of the main stars of the strip was the team captain, John ‘Giant’ Clay, and his character was one who would crossover into another title – a rare ‘cross-over’ event within the 2000AD universe – as he was the father of Judge Giant, an important figure in the early stories of Judge Dredd, who helped defeat the tyrannical Judge Cal. The series followed the fortunes of the ‘Heroes as they competed in the ‘World Aeroball Championship’. In a storyline reminiscent of the Munich disaster that claimed the lives of 7 Manchester United football players, the Harlem Heroes have to recover from the devastating loss of most of their team who are killed in a bus crash following a preliminary round victory. Subsequent episodes followed by the survivors and new recruits as they battled through the Championship against the likes of ‘The Baltimore Bulls’ and ‘The Siberian Wolves’. The early episodes were drawn by Dave Gibbons, but the amazing Massimo Bellardinelli took over the art duties on the final episodes and its sequel, Inferno.

Inferno (progs 36-75)

Inferno was the direct sequel to Harlem Heroes, again scripted by Tom Tully and illustrated by Bellardinelli. Billed as being ‘Deadlier than Aeroball’ on its very first page, it lived up to its promise. Overtly violent compared to its predeccesor, it followed the ‘Harlem Hellcats’ who were the rechristened, surviving ‘Harlem Heroes’ as they contested in ‘Inferno’, a legalised spectator ‘death sport’. The plot wreaks havoc and death upon the team, with very few surviving to the gloomy, nihilistic finale. Even Tharg seemed to have had enough by then, popping up in the middle of a page in the final episode, adding narration and explaining another Hellcat loss, as opposed to Bellardinelli visualising it. All very brutal and downbeat. This wouldnt be the last time a strip would be ended so gracelessly (see the entry for ‘The Mean Team’, further down this post).

Harlem Heroes / Inferno Links

The Harlem Heroes entry at 2000AD online
Harlem Heroes at wikipedia entry for Inferno
David Bishop on the Inferno controversy
The ‘progslog’ blog details the final episodes of Inferno

The Mean Arena (various progs from 1980 until 1982)

That man Tom Tully again. Alongside several artists (notably Steve Dillon did a stint, but John Richardson was the first artist on title) Tully created another futuresport scenario – this one was a bit like street football and rugby, but with whole urban areas given over to it. There was, of course, the possibility of death lurking around every corner. The hero was called Matt Talon, and he led the Slayers in the ‘Mean Arena’, helping them rise from obscurity to new heights. Think ‘Rollerball’ meets ‘Roy of the Rovers’. Sub-plots abounded such as Tallons brother dying as a combatant in the ‘Mean Arena’, and the possibility of a traitor in his own ranks. Despite its numerous appearances over several years, it was never a classic in my opinion, but gets 7.26 thrillpower at the 2000AD site (mind you, only 19 people have voted…)

Mean Arena Links

The 2000AD fansite nails it with all the info, including all progs that featured The Mean Arena
2000AD site entry
This is great – a really fascinating insight, writer david bishop interviews 2000ad editor steve mcmanus (aka ‘tharg’) and puts it on his blog. There is a short conversation about Mean Arena

The Mean Team (various progs from 1985, 1987 & 1989)

Another strip illustrated by the peerless Massimo Bellardinelli, who made memorable anything he worked on (Ace Trucking Co, Meltdown Man, early Slaine, Harlem Heroes, Inferno), ‘The Mean Team’ was another mixed affair. Sometimes it was downright bizarre as well as bleak, brutal and ham-fisted. Initially written by Wagner & Grant under the pseudonym of ‘The Beast’, this was initially a future sport title, where really bad people got to play some sort of death sport with death around every corner (you follow me?), but turned into something like a quest. It was a bit silly really and a lot of it was forgettable – especially the sequels to the original ‘Mean Team’, those being ‘Return’ in 1987 and ‘Survivor’ in 1989. Anyone who has read the story will know that this is how silly it could get;

That is ‘Bad’ Jack Keller finding the right combination of words to get some magical staff working to save himself and his fellow team members. Lucky those words happened to be ‘The Mean Team’, eh???

There were times when you could almost read the new instructions coming from editorial decisions panel by panel, as the future sport theme was clearly not working, so they changed tack so that the story turns into a sort of quest, followed by a last minute decision to ensure that most of ‘The Mean Team’ would not be coming back for a sequel – I mean, how abrupt an ending is this?

As freakytrigger
succinctly puts it in a great article about the end of The Mean Team, it is probably the worst ending to a comic ever – it just feels like its execution (pun intended) is done on a whim, almost an afterthought to wrap up the story.

Mean Team Links

International Hero profiles the Mean Team
2000ad entry for Mean Team
Well, at least someone likes it
2000AD review site
Wiki entry for Bellardinelli
2000AD online entry for The Mean Team

Finally, someone called Vodkashok has been moved enough by recent Harlem Heroes and Mean Arena reprints to create a game in their honour, called ‘Deathball’;

Massimo Bellardinelli 1938 – 2007

Just found out that Massimo Bellardinelli, possibly the greatest 2000AD artist (Ace Trucking Co, Meltdown Man, Mean Team, Slaine etc) died a couple of months ago. He had not worked on the comic for nearly twenty years, so the fact he is still so fondly remembered is testament to his unique, beautiful style.

There’s a tribute from Pat Mills;

Tribute to Bellardinelli