¦ Features ¦Progspawn
A year or so ago,
shortly before the Grand Unveiling of the first Sprout column, I initiated SproutNephew's
education on the early days of 2000 AD. Of course, I don't let him read
the more recent issues, partly because of the foul language (or perhaps I should
say, the pseudo-foul language; I'm sure that if he encountered such hyper-profane
words as "vuck" and "funt" he could decide it's all a bunch of crep and poss his
pants laughing and thus destroy any credibility that the comic might have), but
mostly because I know he's going to ask a lot of difficult questions, such as
"Exactly what is going on with these two murderers? Is that one supposed
to be Irish? Why is his face blue? Why doesn't the other one have any eyes? Are
they mutants, or something? Is this supposed to be funny, or what?"
The answers to these questions are, naturally, "Don't know.
I think so. Don't know. Don't know. Don't know... Er... Here. Read this copy of
Solar Wind instead."
It certainly doesn't help that Judge Dredd is pretty
much the only 2000 AD strip that a newbie can read without having to be
familiar with years of back-stories. I mean, I've been reading the damn thing
all my adult life, and I'm still a little vague about what's going on with ABC
Warriors and Durham Red. And don't get me started on Sláine...
the hell is the comic supposed to get any new fans if most of the strips are close
to impenetrable? Oh, wait... I forgot about the fairly regular "jumping in" progs.
The "spring assault" and all that. It's an interesting idea; start a bunch of
new stories all in the one issue, so that new readers won't be arriving in the
middle of a tale. There's a problem with that, though: how are these potential
new readers supposed to recognise a jumping-in prog from an ordinary one? Next
time, guys, have a great big message on the cover reading "New Readers Start Here!"
But that still doesn't get around the other newbie predicament;
filling in the back-stories. Exactly who is Sláine? Why is he always chopping
other guys up into bits? What's the deal with his hair? Is his story getting anywhere,
or will he be forever making his yearly eight-prog appearance before vanishing
again without any sort of resolution?
way to entice newbies would be to delve once again into the land of reprints...
Reprints are good; newbies can catch up with the past, and older fans can once
again read the comics of their youth (even if that does occasionally trigger outbursts
of "What the funt ever happened to all the comics I bought when I was a kid?"
and "That vucker Neil Montgomery borrowed my 2000 AD prog one and then
However, reprints can be bad, too. Mostly, they can be bad when
the same damn stuff is reprinted over and over and a lot of other stuff is ignored.
Personally, I'd be happy to go the rest of my life without seeing another Special
Deluxe Edition of The Complete Cursed Earth Saga Except the Copyright Infringement
Some time ago there was mention of something called the Digital
Archives. These things never appeared, to the best of my recollection (get it?
Re-collection!), which is a shame.
love to see Rebellion - may all other publishers kneel before them -start reprinting
2000 AD from the beginning. Only the strips; we can do without the Nerve
Centre ("here's a pitcher I drawd of Judge Tharg!") and Ro-Jaws reviewing movies
in a fake cockney accent ("Wotcher, humes!" and so on). Rebellion should do this
along the lines of Marvel's "Essentials" books: In a five-hundred-page book, we
should be able to get about fifteen or sixteen progs. To entice the rabid fanboys,
they could get some of the old artists back to do brand new covers. Flog these
books for a low, low price - not more than ten of your British quids (they don't
have to be on top-quality paper; as long as there's lots of pages and the printing
is relatively clear, the readers will eagerly part with their Galactic Groats).
Release one every two months five years... That'll be about thirty books, bringing
us up to around prog 500 when all the colour stuff kicked in.
I promise that if Rebellion do this, I'll be buying two copies
of the books; one for me, and one for the SproutNephew! That's assuming, of course,
that he doesn't grow up too fast and come to the conclusion that comics are for
But if that does happen, I still have hope that there will be
a new generation of 2000 AD fans... The SproutNephew has a little brother!
At the tender age of two-and-a-half, SproutNephew2 can already read. He learned
the alphabet by watching his favourite TV show; Countdown. Seriously. Yes,
he's a clever little Sproutlet, and I'm hoping that one day, when he's older,
he'll be able to answer the Ultimate Question: "What is the other half of the
Countdown clock for?"