Thursday, 9 February 2017

Future Shock: The Story of 2000AD (2014)

Long before dark and moody superheroes were all the rage, 2000AD was presenting a bleak, funny and subversive take on the comic genre. Future Shock does an excellent job of gathering together many of the names who created and nurtured the magazine, and presenting their funny, astounding and, at times, contradictory stories of how it all happened.

We see the rise both artistically and commercially, as it strikes a chord with 70s readers through strips such as Strontium Dog, Halo Jones, and the legendary Judge Dredd. We also get the lows in the 90s when a dip in the quality of the writing, coupled with poor management and jaw-droppingly stupid marketing ("Women just don't get 2000AD") nearly saw the comic fold.

Watching the parade of faces, it's astonishing to think what a school of talent 2000AD has been, from the early days of Alan Grant, Alan Moore (absent in person, but instantly recognisable in photographs) and mainstay Pat Mills, through to the 80s and 90s eras of the likes of Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison.

The main thing the documentary achieves is placing 2000AD into a historical and cultural context. The original group of writers and artists all say how the grim world of 1970s England, with strikes, food shortages and riots, along with the angry energy of punk, all fed into their stark vision of the future. In turn a generation of writers, film-makers and musicians have all had their lives and imaginations shaped by the comic. This ranges from modern writers such as Lauren Beukes, to musicians like Scott Ian from Anthrax (who wrote I am the Law about Judge Dredd) to filmmakers like Alex Garland (who wrote and produced the second and far superior Judge Dredd film) and Richard Stanley, whose 1990 film Hardware borrowed so liberally from a 2000AD strip called SHOK! that the lawyers had to get involved.