I’ve never really thought about how I got into comics until someone asked me about it. I told them I wasn’t sure and listed a few comics I recalled buying when I was young. I rolled off titles like X-Men, Excalibur, and Akira; but I couldn’t recall which was my first book. Then it hit me: I was reading comics before I could walk into a store and buy my own. It was my Nana that first got me into comics.
I would visit her house every Sunday with the rest of my family, and one week, she gave me a copy of 2000AD to read. Every week from then on she gave me a new issue of 2000AD. I’m not sure exactly at what issue I started reading, I think it was somewhere around issue 400 and that was at the end of 1984. 2000AD started in 1977 and since then it’s launched a lot of big name comic book careers.
2000AD gave opportunities to many guys starting out in comics, such as Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Bryan Talbot, and Neil Gaiman. If you’re a geek about comics, books, or movies you have certainly felt the influence of this peculiarly British sci-fi and fantasy comic. For me it was a gateway into other people’s worlds and my own imagination.
I would sit and read it cover to cover right away and be lost for at least an hour. I have such fond memories of those times; it was such a simple thing as to be given a comic each week but it made me very happy. It also sparked an interest in reading I’d never had before. Soon I was caught up in the hard drugs – novels. After that there was no going back.
Although I loved 2000AD I never really saw myself reflected in its pages; it was a comic for boys and promoted a certain kind of macho masculinity. The famous exception to this was Halo Jones but that unexpectedly finished before I started reading. Halo Jones was Ian Gibson and Alan Moore’s far future sci-fi story aimed at female readers. It’s Moore’s first true classic and it was intended to run for nine volumes. It was 2000AD saying “girls like sci-fi too!” and it looked like a much needed change had arrived.
It stopped at volume three as the publishers and Moore could not agree on the rights to Halo Jones. Moore refused to write anything else in the Halo Jones universe until the rights were handed over to him and Gibson but the publisher refused. It’s an argument that continues to this day. After that 2000AD never fully committed itself to female readers. It settled back into the rut of stories by boys and for boys with only the rare woman protagonist like Tyranny Rex.
It has taken 36 years of Judge Dredd stories, and in a weekly comic that’s a lot of stories, before the first Dredd story was written by a woman and of course it was co-written with a man. After all who could trust a woman to write the in depth material that is Judge Dredd. Pew pew! It wasn’t meant to be this way though; 2000AD’s creator Pat Mills once aimed to launch a 2000AD “for girls” called Misty.
Mills thought that women needed comics too and was determined to launch a comic aimed at 51% of the population. Again the publishers were intractable on rights issues and Mills left 2000AD and give up on personally launching Misty. The publishers launched their own version of Misty, Mills later relented and was a consultant editor on a few stories, but he didn’t control Misty – “…the stories were not as hard-hitting as I would have liked them to be and some punches were pulled. … and more than a little ‘old school’ thinking slowly starting to creep back in.”
Misty went under leaving a void, particularly in British comics, of sci-fi and fantasy comics aimed at women. 2000AD has never addressed the appetite that women have for comics and I’ve always wondered why. The publishers would certainly have earned a lot more money over the years. As I grew older and had money to buy my own comics I moved away from 2000AD. It wasn’t what I wanted anymore because it didn’t reflect me in any way.
I do have a soft spot in my heart for the old British curmudgeon that is 2000AD but I admit it’s a highly problematic comic. It’s had thirty-eight years to try and address the boy centric sexism that plagues it to this day. Somehow it’s never managed it.
That doesn’t mean I don’t owe 2000AD a huge debt of gratitude. Without 2000AD I probably wouldn’t have the love of comics I have to this day. Without that love of comics I may never started to love reading novels and in turn I wouldn’t be writing stories, articles and comics today.
So Nana and 2000AD, thank you. You both changed my life.
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