Sunday, December 15, 2013
Written by David McDonald, Beyond 2000AD is a new book under his Comic Archive banner. The 68 page softback is a fascinating look at the comics that relate to 2000AD, such as Starlord, Tornado, the Judge Dredd newspaper strip and much more.
The book is excellently researched, interviewing people directly involved with the comics such as John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra,Kelvin Gosnell, Nick Landau, Dez Skinn and others. It's a revealing insight into the workings of IPC in the 1970s, and how creativity was often frustrated by the changing opinions of management. (For example Starlord was revamped from a monthly to a weekly at short notice, and Tornado was intended to be called Heroes until management decided it was "a nothing title".)
There's also a look at the history of the 2000AD material being repackaged for the American market, starting with Eagle Comics' full colour Judge Dredd monthly and how and why Quality Comics took over the reprint operation. There's the background to the newspaper strip version of Judge Dredd and related strips such as the short-lived Scatha (reprinted in full). There's even a feature on the often overlooked Metalzoic by Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill.
I was pleased to see that two people who are seldom (if ever) mentioned in such comic histories are given their due. I'd heard of Doug Church (and I'm sure I met him once up at King's Reach Tower) and knew he worked in production at IPC, but I didn't know he was a strip artist himself, drawing war picture libraries and even moonlighting for DC Thomson's Victor whilst still on the staff at IPC.
Doug's anecdotes prove interesting reading, particularly the information that he was tasked with producing a revamped Eagle in 1972! Frank Bellamy's cover is shown, as are two pages that Joe Colquhoun did for the dummy. Sadly, the project was shelved and Eagle had to wait another ten years for a completely different revival.
The other ex-IPC staffer interviewed is Colin Wyatt. You may know his work for some of the marvelous covers he illustrated for Donald and Mickey comic in the seventies, but he has also worked in production on 2000AD, Tornado, and Action. The book shows some of the artwork that was censored from Action and 2000AD for its violent content.
Beyond 2000AD is an essential read for anyone genuinely interested in the history and background of British comics. It's available to buy either as a digital or print edition from the Hibernia Comics website: