Illicit Thrills: The Seizure of 2000AD

Last night it was reported that the entirity of the UK-originated stock for 2000AD, one of the best comic publications in the world (“The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic!”) was seized by the DEA as it was headed for San Diego for Comic-Con this weekend.

Yes, the Drug Enforcement Agency has seized comic books.

Now, 2000AD are not COMPLETELY hosed, as they have stock of US-origin as well, namely, the recent reprint volumes of classic Thrills being published by Simon & Schuster. But as for the newest material, this would include the most recent Prog (#1694), as well as, more momentously, the 300th issue of 2000AD‘s sister publication, the Judge Dredd Megazine.

My thoughts on this:

* Again, why is the DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY seizing COMIC BOOKS?? If any of this country’s fascist agencies, I’d figure it would be Department of Homeland Security? What gives here? No explanations have been given as of this writing.

* You know, ironically, this IS a very Judge Dredd thing to have happened!

* On a more serious point, this incident will do nothing to help salve the reputation that 2000AD is a museum piece, a relic of days past. Despite the fact it’s still going on, to this day, after over 30 years, the general assumption seems to be that the Prog is gone. “They’re still making that?” “I used to read that, whatever happened to it?” In the USA, the only way MOST in the mainstream have even remotely heard of 2000AD is via Judge Dredd, and even then that’s mainly due to a) Sylvester Stallone or, more preferably, b) the band Anthrax. So, late-80s to mid-90s at best.

Looking above at the reprint paperbacks being offered to the US market now (the 3rd or 4th attempt to do so, at that), you can tell what they’re pushing: Judge Dredd, and anything written by Alan Moore. Oftentimes, both at once, OR Dredd + some other major name at the moment. You have Dredd by: Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Mark Millar. The vast majority of the reprints are from the “Glory Days”: the late-70s to early-90s.

The ONE collection of anything even remotely recent is ZOMBO by Al Ewing and Henry Flint, from 2009. Ewing is also the newest writer to be featured in any of the Judge Dredd collections. Out of ALL the announced collections, this is the ONE Thrill from this century seen worthy of reprint and exposure? I call bullshit there. (And not a knock on ZOMBO or Ewing one bit, I love both to pieces. But the message it’s giving is that this is the ONLY Thrill published in the 2000s-AD [see what I did there?] that’s worthwhile. Which is, simply, not true)

It’s not 2000AD’s fault the DEA (?!?!) seized their stock, but when all you have to offer is material going as far back as 30 years ago, it’s no wonder 2000AD struggles to be seen as the cultural force it really should be. I really hope we get some answers, and that 2000AD can show the modern audience what it can do in modern times, as well as showing off the best from days gone by.

(And I also really hope this doesn’t adversely affect 2000AD’s planned appearance at the New York Comic-Con in October)

Edit 1: According to this posting on 2000AD’s message board, the stock HAS been released. So that’s good. STILL no explanations tho.

Edit 2: If YOU would like to read a recent issue of 2000AD and don’t want to wait for importing to catch up with it, you can legally download issues from Clickwheel. Costs $2.99/£1.49, you get it in PDF or CBZ formats, and it’s only a week or so behind the print schedule. Get caught up, get CURRENT. 2000AD IS ALIVE.

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8 Responses to “Illicit Thrills: The Seizure of 2000AD”

  1. The 2000AD website front page includes Defoe and THe 86ers – not exactly ancient. Using the term “anything remotely recent” you’re referring to the last five years… I think you’re right, and this tends to support it.
    http://geeksyndicate.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/press-release-2000-ad-launches-us-graphic-novel-line/

  2. No, Defoe nor The 86ers are ancient, but neither are they currently in the Prog. But you surmise my meaning about “remotely recent,” yes. Why not push, say, well, Defoe for a USA who’s in the midst of zombiemania, for example?

  3. I would never see 2000 AD as being past it. But I would agree that some of the more recent output has not been as impressive as the book’s heyday of the 80s into 90s. But I think that is more due to the way in which the comics Market in the UK has changed in the past 15 years.

    The bottom line is that British creators do struggle to work purely for a book like 2000 AD. It’s just not possible to work there exclusively. Back in the 80s creators in the UK could make a systainable work for both

  4. While I do feel that sometimes 2000 AD can be accused of living in the past I think it is worth noting that the ‘classic’ material, and even the 90s material, is really rather good. What has changed is the climate of the comics industry in the UK.

    Back in the 80s and 90s you had everybody from the Alans Moore and Davis to Dan Abnett, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and Garth Ennis. But you’ll notice that all of those guys are probably better known for going on to bigger things in American comics AFTER 2000 AD in the 90s. 

    What changed? Well, if you look at what is left of the British comics industry right now 2000 AD and the Megazine are pretty much it (Although Clint and Strip magazine are both soon coming to add to that). British creators cannot easily make a living out of working exclusively for 2000 AD. It’s not enough. Back in the late 80s/early 90s a creator could make a living working between 2000 AD and for Marvel UK. Or Warrior. Or a handful of other smaller companies. But after Marvel UK was sold off, as its parent company tried to fight off bankruptcy, and titles like Warrior disappeared the work just wasn’t there.

    But DC were. With the lure of working for Vertigo… 2000 AD’s talent pool was kind of picked bare at one point, and these days many creators do see it as a stepping stone to bigger things. One which they respect, but realise the reality of the situation.

    Like I say, this may improve with Mark Millar’s CLINT soon to arrive, showcasing Kick Ass 2 and work from the likes of Jonathan Ross and Frankie Boyle. Maybe STRIP may help, too. I look forward to seeing more in that revealed in the Autumn. 

    But I guess in some ways 2000 AD is a bit of a victim of it’s own success. American comics publishers do look to it to poach talent. But for some creators that’s exactly WHY they go to work for them. 

    Strange creative viscous cycles, no? 

    • I’m sorry, but no. I’ve raised this elsewhere . The British comics industry is not ref: 200AD and the Meg, “pretty much it”. The underground scene underwent an industrial boom sometime in the 90s. Please try to refer to make a distinction between the financial industry and other notions – such as creativity and publishing.

      There are the loonies, hacks, amateurs, solidly good, occassionally brilliant, the reliables, the interesting. There’s a top end of REAL professional TALENT, as good/better than a number of 2000AD pros, who work and produce part-time and generate either beer money or reasonable part-time work income. There’s lo-fi small pressers, hi-fi shallow publishers, there have been houses like Insomnia and Blank Slate. People like Rik Hoskin, Rol Hirst, Paul Rainey working on long-running projects.

      I’m not meaning to pick on Mark. The views are a commonly communicated mis-think. It might be interesting to carry out a survey of the UK industry. We’re small enough Western country with creative and financial capital for the results to be achievable. I do not recall anyone ever doing this. By my estimation, the UK has 4 print comics (books and booklets) editions made on yearly average per day.

      • ps Not quite sure what it was mid-90s, two a day maybe. The boom probably occurred around 2003-2004. Increasing exponentially since 2000AD/The Meg were the last ones standing. (sorry, kids comics fans)

  5. hereintheusa Says:

    I think 2000ad has never been a major success in the US simply because of its format. Most americans simply do not understand the concept of a weekly anthology comic that does not feature tight wearing superheroes.

    Americans like their comics to be safe and predictable. We all know that whatever Marvel and DC say about their latest epic changing the forever, nothing really changes. They usually end up with some BS like chasing a bullet through time.

    2000ad is anything but safe and predictable, which is why the comic has its fair share of dire output but even now they are still willing to take risks and try different formats/stories/ideas etc.

    Whatever happened to the Dynamite Dredd deal?

    BTW while Geoff makes some good points, I am the eternal optimist and I have no doubt that one day the thrill suckers will be eradicated from North America and Tharg can then reign supreme.

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