Comic Book Nerdorama: 12 Ways 2000AD Is Zarjaz
12 Ways 2000AD Is Zarjaz
IT GAVE THE WORLD JUDGE BLEEDIN’ DREDD
Arguably better known than the comic itself is its main star, leather- suited, permanently-behelmeted Judge Dredd, tough-ass humorless moo and saviour of the streets of Mega-City One. His catchphrase (“I am the law”) and iconography are huge, and impressively, his story has happened in ‘real time’ – it’s been permanently 122 years ahead of the Earth year, so he and his supporting cast have aged appropriately. Sort of. “It’s a debatable point exactly how old he is now, but he’s in his 60s at least,” says editor Matt Smith. “Where it becomes a grey area is that Mega-City One has face-change and rejuve facilities, so you never know, he may have had a bit of help. He’s certainly as sprightly as he ever was”.
…AND THE REST
While Judge Dredd remains the best-known character, a lot of 2000AD’s other stories have become firm fan favourites…
SLÅINE: A Celtic barbarian who battles everyone from demons to aliens to real-life historical figures, Sláine is like a multi- weaponed Irish Conan.
STRONTIUM DOG: The story of Johnny Alpha, a mutant bounty hunter in a post-apocalyptic world (yeah, fun). He was killed off in the 80s but he’s back now.
NEMESIS THE WARLOCK: Created by the fiercely left-wing Pat Mills, Nemesis is a fire-breathing demonic alien anti-hero who does battle with the KKK-looking Torquemada.
ZOMBO: A newer creation, Zombo debuted in 2008 and is a human-zombie hybrid, top- secret government project and wannabe pop star all in one.
ROGUE TROOPER: A blue-skinned genetically- engineered soldier on a war-torn future planet, co-created by Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons. He’s potentially set to become a movie star, with Sam Worthington from Avatar set to play him.
DREDD BEAT HOLLYWOOD
The 1995 Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd movie is appalling – he barely wears the helmet, he gets off with Judge Hershey (which in the comic he’s totally not allowed to do) and Rob Schneider keeps showing up being all Rob Schneidery. Howevs, 2012’s Dredd, directed by Pete Travis, written by Alex Garland and starring Karl Urban, is awesome, and despite non-amazing box office takings, there might be a sequel because fans just dug it so much.
IT LONG OUTLASTED ITS FUTURISTIC TITLE
Something that often dates sci-fi is when real life goes past the far-off date it’s set in (even in Terminator 2, Judgment Day was in 1997). When the comic started in February 1977, the year 2000 seemed impossibly futuristic, but it’s ended up going on long past that date without changing anything, delivering a two-fingered salute to the passage of time. In your face, temporal causality. “I queried it at the time” says writer Pat Mills. “I said, ‘What happens when we reach the millennium?’ The publisher didn’t think we would, but I knew we would.”
IT’S PRETTY MUCH PUNK
“On the surface, we were aiming to sell a lot of copies” says Mills. “This meant not appealing to fanboys who would have been into Gerry Anderson or Marvel or Warrior, but to mainstream readers, who are usually the last people comic buffs think about. But beneath the surface, we aimed to subvert. We weren’t punks, but that’s a quick way of saying it.” Mills’s strip Nemesis The Warlock essentially had the Devil as the hero, battling the fascistic efforts of the vaguely Pope-like Torquemada.
IT’S EDITED BY AN ALIEN
2000AD has always been fronted by Tharg The Mighty, a green-skinned alien from Betelgeuse who refers to humans as “Earthlets” and speaks in a dementedly wordy manner. “It seems slightly anachronistic now to have a green alien as the face of 2000AD, but I think the readers would be up in arms if we got rid of him,” says editor Matt Smith. “He’s good fun to hide behind – if any readers ask awkward questions you can just have Tharg come out with spiel about how everything’s going to plan.” Tharg also starred in his own series of photo-stories back in the day, which haven’ really aged incredibly well (they starred a dude in a pretty bad suit).
IT MADE THE WORLD SCROTNIG
Tharg introduced a lot of his own ridiculous slang, including “Zarjaz” (meaning excellent), “Grexnix” (an idiot), “Scrotnig” (also excellent), “Nonscrot” (a non-reader of 2000AD) and “Splundig vur thrigg” (goodbye). Yeah, why not, right?
IT’S BRITISH, GOD DAMN IT
The comics industry is almost totally dominated by U.S. companies – DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW… But 2000AD is part of Rebellion, a British company run by two brothers who grew up reading it. While talent tends to end up where the money is on the other side of the Atlantic, 2000AD’s open submissions policy (which very few U.S companies have) means it’s still the first place most up-and-comers get published.
IT INVENTED FUTURE SHOCKS
One of 2000AD’s acest features is the Future Shocks – self-contained one-off stories that usually end on a mind-twatting twist. They’re like the most economical pieces of storytelling ever, like mini episodes of The Twilight Zone. Mega-bearded comics supremo Alan Moore (creator of Watchmen and V For Vendetta) did 50 or so, and basically, if you name a big-shot British comics creator, that dude started off doing Future Shocks. Grant Morrison (The Filth), Mark Millar (Kick-Ass), Garth Ennis (Preacher,) and Neil Gaiman (Sandman) have all done them, and those bastards are RIIIICH.
EVERYONE WHO’S ANYONE’S WORKED WITH THEM
The world of comics would be a much more barren place without the writers and artists that have come through 2000AD’s pages. As well as everyone already named, there’s Alan Davis (X-Men), Alan Grant (Batman), Simon Bisley (Lobo), Peter Milligan (Unwritten), Steve Dillon (Preacher), Andy Diggle (The Losers), Kevin O’Neill (League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Rufus Dayglo (Tank Girl)… tons of ’em. “Going to seek work in America, having worked for 2000AD is seen as something of an academy to have earned your chops at,” says Matt Smith.
SHAUN AND TIM DIG IT
When Shaun Of The Dead came out in 2004, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright filled in some of the backstory with There’s Something About Mary, a strip in 2000AD, co-written by Wright’s brother Oscar and illustrated by Frazer Irving. Pegg’s character in Spaced was named after 2000AD artist Simon Bisley, and was said to have cried when Johnny Alpha died in the comic.
IT MADE THOUSANDS CRY
The Ballad Of Halo Jones, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Ian Gibson, is one of the high points of 2000AD’s history. It’s a sweeping, epic tale that goes from farcical comedy to being absolutely heartbreaking. If you’re at all skeptical about comics, pick up the collected edition, it’s brilliant and you’ll sob like a tiny baby at the end.