Comic Britannia

bbc4

I hope you’ve been enjoying BBC4’s excellently-made Comics Britannia series, which ended its three-part run on Monday. My guess is that it was well enough received to get a repeat on BBC2 in the near future, if you missed it. I was delighted to be asked to contribute to part three, Anarchy In The UK, which looked at British comics’ development from the late 70s to the present day, taking in Viz, Action and graphic novels. Cornerstone though was 2000AD. Those that did see the programme will know that I had a drawing reproduced in the comic in 1977. Here’s the illustrated story:

An avid reader of 2000AD I leapt at the chance, aged 12, to send in a drawing of what we thought the comic’s Deputy Editor looked like. My drawing was of a tough-looking individual in a tight-fitting spacesuit, with a kind of graphic haircut and sideburns. How shocked I was to receive this envelope one morning, with a London postmark and IPC Magazines stamped on the back.

2000ADenvelope

Inside was this frankly photocopied letter from editor Tharg. It thrilled me to my very bone marrow. My picture was to be printed in “Programme 25” (that’s issue 25 to you, Earthlet).

2000ADletter

Duly, Prog 25 arrived in the week of August 13, 1977. “In orbit every Monday: 9p Earth money.”

2000AD

And on a page towards the back was this array of readers’ drawings, stylised by one of the house artists rather than just reprinted, with my burly Deputy sat at the table beside a scaly fish creature and a big woolly octopus thing.

2000ADpic

Our names were printed in a panel to the bottom left. I was over the moon. My name in 2000AD! I’m glad I kept all of this ephemera. Not least for being able to show it to the nation on a BBC documentary. Old comics are beautiful to look at, years later, as they’re like photo albums. It’s funny – I could have sworn that the artists and writers’ names were credited on the strips, but they’re not. That obviously came later. Anyway, Splundig Vur Thrigg, and all that.

2000ADpic_2

72 thoughts on “Comic Britannia

  1. It took me over ten years to get printed in 2000AD and a big thrill it was too. Even better was the first cheque I received from Marvel Comics. It came inside an envelope with Spider-man on it. The cheque also had a drawing of him and it was so tempting not to cash it and put it on the wall instead.BTW, anyone interested in 2000AD should check out ‘Thrill Power Overload’ an in-depth history of the comic written by former Tharg David Bishop.

  2. It took me over ten years to get printed in 2000AD and a big thrill it was too. Even better was the first cheque I received from Marvel Comics. It came inside an envelope with Spider-man on it. The cheque also had a drawing of him and it was so tempting not to cash it and put it on the wall instead.BTW, anyone interested in 2000AD should check out ‘Thrill Power Overload’ an in-depth history of the comic written by former Tharg David Bishop.

  3. Talking of comics (or Graphic Novels really) were you ever a fan of Cerebus Andrew? It’s a three hundred issue work by the same guy about an Aardvark, taking in religion politics and many more themes. Full of cameos of famous people too. Everyone thinks the author’s crazy but it’s still a great achievement.

  4. Talking of comics (or Graphic Novels really) were you ever a fan of Cerebus Andrew? It’s a three hundred issue work by the same guy about an Aardvark, taking in religion politics and many more themes. Full of cameos of famous people too. Everyone thinks the author’s crazy but it’s still a great achievement.

  5. I have a feeling that’s not really Alan Moore up there. ^^^Probably another pointless troll.My brother was obsessed with 2000AD. I remember when I was small the character of Otto Sump really caught my imagination – just found this amazing front cover on google images – it blew me away when I was probably only around 7.OttoCongratulations on the pic printing… I missed the show – did they cover Scream comic? That was bloody brilliant. I was 6 when I was bought issue one and it rocked my world.

  6. I have a feeling that’s not really Alan Moore up there. ^^^Probably another pointless troll.My brother was obsessed with 2000AD. I remember when I was small the character of Otto Sump really caught my imagination – just found this amazing front cover on google images – it blew me away when I was probably only around 7.OttoCongratulations on the pic printing… I missed the show – did they cover Scream comic? That was bloody brilliant. I was 6 when I was bought issue one and it rocked my world.

  7. I used to enjoy reading my brother’s issues of 2000AD. I was too tight to buy them myself. To busy buying Figurin Panini stickers. As much as I loved Judge Dredd I was a Strontium Dog man myself. That was the one with Johnny Alpha in wasn’t it. Memory fails me. Did anybody else have a crush on Judge Anderson PSI ? She was hot. even if she was two dimensional.

  8. I used to enjoy reading my brother’s issues of 2000AD. I was too tight to buy them myself. To busy buying Figurin Panini stickers. As much as I loved Judge Dredd I was a Strontium Dog man myself. That was the one with Johnny Alpha in wasn’t it. Memory fails me. Did anybody else have a crush on Judge Anderson PSI ? She was hot. even if she was two dimensional.

  9. Ah, I can make you all feel old … I remember visiting my grandparents. On the way, we’d stop at Jex’s Newsagents. My dad would buy 2000AD to read, while my grandad read Victor. So I grew up with 2000AD, graduating to the excellent Crisis, a short-lived 2000AD spin-off that covered globalisation and such like. Anyone remember that one?

  10. Ah, I can make you all feel old … I remember visiting my grandparents. On the way, we’d stop at Jex’s Newsagents. My dad would buy 2000AD to read, while my grandad read Victor. So I grew up with 2000AD, graduating to the excellent Crisis, a short-lived 2000AD spin-off that covered globalisation and such like. Anyone remember that one?

  11. I was never a fan of graphic novels until the film “A History of Violence”, which is based on a ‘comic’ and is rather good.”Probably another pointless troll.”It’ll be the same dull “your boss, Barry Norman” troll with more anonymous hilarity. *Yawns

  12. I was never a fan of graphic novels until the film “A History of Violence”, which is based on a ‘comic’ and is rather good.”Probably another pointless troll.”It’ll be the same dull “your boss, Barry Norman” troll with more anonymous hilarity. *Yawns

  13. Best I can offer at this stage is the fact that when I was 5, I won 2 Weebles for having the Star Letter in “Pippin in Playland”, after sending them my drawing of Bagpuss.

  14. Best I can offer at this stage is the fact that when I was 5, I won 2 Weebles for having the Star Letter in “Pippin in Playland”, after sending them my drawing of Bagpuss.

  15. Upstairs in a draw I have a “2000AD” T-Shirt still in it’s original wrapper ((it is and always has been WAY too small for me!)I’ve also got a metallic 2000AD badge courtesy of my brother, who also did some of the graphic work on the last ever “Roy Of The Rovers” strip.I’ve managed to convince my wife they are part of some vague “pension plan”, although you would have to prise them from my cold dead hand if truth be told.

  16. Upstairs in a draw I have a “2000AD” T-Shirt still in it’s original wrapper ((it is and always has been WAY too small for me!)I’ve also got a metallic 2000AD badge courtesy of my brother, who also did some of the graphic work on the last ever “Roy Of The Rovers” strip.I’ve managed to convince my wife they are part of some vague “pension plan”, although you would have to prise them from my cold dead hand if truth be told.

  17. Christ, it annoys me when I get flamed for the crime of appearing on television. Monks are being beaten with clubs in Burma and someone has the time and energy to come on my blog and have an anonymous pop because I was on a television programme? I must remember to tell an anecdote that’s not “self-regarding” next time I am invited to contribute to a televison programme. Personally, I thought the contributions of comics fans added a lot to the programme. My anecdote was about the sheer excitement of being included, as a 12-year-old, in the world of 2000AD. Do you know why I’m on television a lot? Because people keep asking me to be on it. The misguided fools. (Oh yeah, I’ve just remembered – you don’t need to justify yourself to anonymous trolls! Phew. That saved me a job.)

  18. Christ, it annoys me when I get flamed for the crime of appearing on television. Monks are being beaten with clubs in Burma and someone has the time and energy to come on my blog and have an anonymous pop because I was on a television programme? I must remember to tell an anecdote that’s not “self-regarding” next time I am invited to contribute to a televison programme. Personally, I thought the contributions of comics fans added a lot to the programme. My anecdote was about the sheer excitement of being included, as a 12-year-old, in the world of 2000AD. Do you know why I’m on television a lot? Because people keep asking me to be on it. The misguided fools. (Oh yeah, I’ve just remembered – you don’t need to justify yourself to anonymous trolls! Phew. That saved me a job.)

  19. Sensible response: remove offending comment.If anyone hasn’t checked out Sean’s blog (the link is up on the right), do so. He posts work in progress every working day of his life, and it’s fascinating to see his artwork take shape, from pencils to inks and finished printed artefact. I used to love Crisis, especially Troubled Souls and later True Faith by Garth Ennis (drawn by Warren Pleece, one of my favourite artists to come out of that boom). I met and interviewed a lot of great comics artists and writers around the late 80s and early 90s as I ran the comics section in the NME and also wrote for the trade magazine Speakeasy – I went to Alan Moore’s house, also Alan Grant’s, and met Brett Ewins, Rian Hughes, the Pleece brothers … it was a great time to be into comics.

  20. Sensible response: remove offending comment.If anyone hasn’t checked out Sean’s blog (the link is up on the right), do so. He posts work in progress every working day of his life, and it’s fascinating to see his artwork take shape, from pencils to inks and finished printed artefact. I used to love Crisis, especially Troubled Souls and later True Faith by Garth Ennis (drawn by Warren Pleece, one of my favourite artists to come out of that boom). I met and interviewed a lot of great comics artists and writers around the late 80s and early 90s as I ran the comics section in the NME and also wrote for the trade magazine Speakeasy – I went to Alan Moore’s house, also Alan Grant’s, and met Brett Ewins, Rian Hughes, the Pleece brothers … it was a great time to be into comics.

  21. Cor! That made me all nostalgic for the good old days of 2000AD that did. There was a good programme on Radio 4 about it as well – it should be on the Listen Again page somewhere.

  22. Cor! That made me all nostalgic for the good old days of 2000AD that did. There was a good programme on Radio 4 about it as well – it should be on the Listen Again page somewhere.

  23. Did they mention Deadline magazine? Did they? I wish I’d seen it.If they didn’t mention Hewlett they should hang their heads in shame.Deadline was ace. Milk and Cheese rocked my world.

  24. I really must get Thrill-Power Overload as it has been on by “to buy” list for a few months now. The author, Dave Bishop has a blog athttp://viciousimagery.blogspot.com/as well as one covering the book itself athttp://thrillpoweroverload.blogspot.com/He also wrote a rather good Doctor Who book in 1996 concerning the JFK assassination called “Who Killed Kennedy”. Might have to dig out that book sometime.I also really must sort out the several boxes of 2000AD (1990s ones only unfortunately) and Judge Dredd Megazines too!

  25. Did they mention Deadline magazine? Did they? I wish I’d seen it.If they didn’t mention Hewlett they should hang their heads in shame.Deadline was ace. Milk and Cheese rocked my world.

  26. I really must get Thrill-Power Overload as it has been on by “to buy” list for a few months now. The author, Dave Bishop has a blog athttp://viciousimagery.blogspot.com/as well as one covering the book itself athttp://thrillpoweroverload.blogspot.com/He also wrote a rather good Doctor Who book in 1996 concerning the JFK assassination called “Who Killed Kennedy”. Might have to dig out that book sometime.I also really must sort out the several boxes of 2000AD (1990s ones only unfortunately) and Judge Dredd Megazines too!

  27. Is it sad to admit that I initially read Warren Pleece as “Warren Piece” and thought it was a joke pseudonym? (‘War and Peace’, for anyone who is not afflicted with a warped brain like mine…)

  28. Is it sad to admit that I initially read Warren Pleece as “Warren Piece” and thought it was a joke pseudonym? (‘War and Peace’, for anyone who is not afflicted with a warped brain like mine…)

  29. Don’t listen to the nasty men Andrew; I enjoyed watching you on BBC4.I listened to you on Radio 4 on Tuesday night as well, it’s like you’re talking to only me. What are you wearing?

  30. Don’t listen to the nasty men Andrew; I enjoyed watching you on BBC4.I listened to you on Radio 4 on Tuesday night as well, it’s like you’re talking to only me. What are you wearing?

  31. Actually I think they didn’t have enough material for the third episode, which is why we had more than the usual quota of “contributers” added as opposed to the first two programmes. That and Alan Moore reading almost inaudibly from Watchmen, for what seemed like ages. Was Watchmen being mentioned so much a bit of a cheat? I know its seminal, but after all its an American comic about American superhero archetypes and Reagan era politics. But if they were going to mention British creatives in America why not mention all the others instead of relying on that bugbear of modern television the “broadcaster”. I won two competions in Spiderman.

  32. Actually I think they didn’t have enough material for the third episode, which is why we had more than the usual quota of “contributers” added as opposed to the first two programmes. That and Alan Moore reading almost inaudibly from Watchmen, for what seemed like ages. Was Watchmen being mentioned so much a bit of a cheat? I know its seminal, but after all its an American comic about American superhero archetypes and Reagan era politics. But if they were going to mention British creatives in America why not mention all the others instead of relying on that bugbear of modern television the “broadcaster”. I won two competions in Spiderman.

  33. I’ve been a hack since 1991 and it all tracks back to having a letter published in 2000AD. Wish I had kept the letter from Tharg (he had a picture byline in my day), but the postmaster’s face when I cashed the cheque (two galactic groats) equates to a lifetime’s riches. I wonder how many people started media careers in this way…

  34. I’ve been a hack since 1991 and it all tracks back to having a letter published in 2000AD. Wish I had kept the letter from Tharg (he had a picture byline in my day), but the postmaster’s face when I cashed the cheque (two galactic groats) equates to a lifetime’s riches. I wonder how many people started media careers in this way…

  35. I can understand how exciting that would be. As a young ‘un I was overjoyed to have a joke printed in Whizzer and Chips. I can’t remember what my prize was though. How much was your postal order for?

  36. I can understand how exciting that would be. As a young ‘un I was overjoyed to have a joke printed in Whizzer and Chips. I can’t remember what my prize was though. How much was your postal order for?

  37. Beware of recording BBC4 repeats in the middle of the night. There’s a good chance they’ll be signed for the deaf (because the deaf don’t sleep apparently). I find these impossible to watch because I’m constantly wondering whether the signer(?) is enjoying the programme or if (s)he’s bored. I’m easily distracted.I was more of a Krazy fan myself.

  38. Beware of recording BBC4 repeats in the middle of the night. There’s a good chance they’ll be signed for the deaf (because the deaf don’t sleep apparently). I find these impossible to watch because I’m constantly wondering whether the signer(?) is enjoying the programme or if (s)he’s bored. I’m easily distracted.I was more of a Krazy fan myself.

  39. I loved Krazy too, Dave. Did you graduate to Cheeky Weekly? I think that was the last kids’ comic I got regularly before the self-consciousness of puberty really set in.I can’t remember how much my postal order was for, Beki. I’ll look it up in my diary of the time tomorrow.

  40. I loved Krazy too, Dave. Did you graduate to Cheeky Weekly? I think that was the last kids’ comic I got regularly before the self-consciousness of puberty really set in.I can’t remember how much my postal order was for, Beki. I’ll look it up in my diary of the time tomorrow.

  41. Having looked at the big panel again I think, in a prediction worthy of 2000AD, that Tromon the knee-biter is trying to offer Tharg a copy of ShortList, which features a sponsored 2000AD wraparound cover. Tharg is wondering about ‘instant liquidation’. Collins, the burly deputy, looks on impassively.It’s funny how things link up, especially on this blog.

  42. Having looked at the big panel again I think, in a prediction worthy of 2000AD, that Tromon the knee-biter is trying to offer Tharg a copy of ShortList, which features a sponsored 2000AD wraparound cover. Tharg is wondering about ‘instant liquidation’. Collins, the burly deputy, looks on impassively.It’s funny how things link up, especially on this blog.

  43. My personal favourite comics as a kid were: Whizzer & Chips, Buster, Roy of the Rovers, Tiger and Battle. The chap that drew ROTR (David Sque) now draws “Scorer” in the Daily Mirror apparently. “Charley’s War” from Battle comic was an epic World War One comic strip, and one which has been reproduced recently in Judge Dredd monthly.

  44. My personal favourite comics as a kid were: Whizzer & Chips, Buster, Roy of the Rovers, Tiger and Battle. The chap that drew ROTR (David Sque) now draws “Scorer” in the Daily Mirror apparently. “Charley’s War” from Battle comic was an epic World War One comic strip, and one which has been reproduced recently in Judge Dredd monthly.

  45. Fantastic stuff. I was jammy enough to have an “aunt” (friend of my nan’s) who worked at the printers in Manchester where the DC Thomson comics were run off. Hence we used to get free returns of all the comics under their name – OK, about a month after they came out, but the loss in playground cachet for not being “up to the minute” was compensated by the sheer volume of back collection we built up.Like Beki, I also had a joke printed in a comic (either Beezer or Topper, I forget which). They sent me a compendium of games, but the thrill of having your name in print which was the main attraction. It was also the last thing I won in my life until I won a book on AC’s 6 Music show about 18 years later.

  46. Fantastic stuff. I was jammy enough to have an “aunt” (friend of my nan’s) who worked at the printers in Manchester where the DC Thomson comics were run off. Hence we used to get free returns of all the comics under their name – OK, about a month after they came out, but the loss in playground cachet for not being “up to the minute” was compensated by the sheer volume of back collection we built up.Like Beki, I also had a joke printed in a comic (either Beezer or Topper, I forget which). They sent me a compendium of games, but the thrill of having your name in print which was the main attraction. It was also the last thing I won in my life until I won a book on AC’s 6 Music show about 18 years later.

  47. Bought Krazy for its all too short lifetime. Thing I most remember about it were the back covers which were designed to disguise its comicness (very unconvingly).One of the back covers had a handkerchief pattern on it, I seem to recall.I remember in one of the issues there was a bunch of songs. This one was sung to the tune of “My Bonnie.””My sister is putting on make upShe’s going out tonightHer boyfriend’s got a new pair of glassesHe’s in for a terrible frightUgly, UglyLipstick won’t do any goodNo goodUgly, UglyShe ought to be wearing a hood”I only lasted a few issues into its merger with Whizzer & Chips and similarly stayed with Cheeky until its merger with Whoopee. I was also rather fond of Nutty and, to a lesser extent, School Fun.One of my abiding memories of my comic reading was of J Edward Oliver’s encircled Ts hidden in his strips sometimes with his “Abolish Tuesdays” slogan.

  48. Bought Krazy for its all too short lifetime. Thing I most remember about it were the back covers which were designed to disguise its comicness (very unconvingly).One of the back covers had a handkerchief pattern on it, I seem to recall.I remember in one of the issues there was a bunch of songs. This one was sung to the tune of “My Bonnie.””My sister is putting on make upShe’s going out tonightHer boyfriend’s got a new pair of glassesHe’s in for a terrible frightUgly, UglyLipstick won’t do any goodNo goodUgly, UglyShe ought to be wearing a hood”I only lasted a few issues into its merger with Whizzer & Chips and similarly stayed with Cheeky until its merger with Whoopee. I was also rather fond of Nutty and, to a lesser extent, School Fun.One of my abiding memories of my comic reading was of J Edward Oliver’s encircled Ts hidden in his strips sometimes with his “Abolish Tuesdays” slogan.

  49. There was WAY too much of Viz and not enough 2000ad on that programme. Viz has already been pretty well covered by TV, and 2000ad has been neglected, in my view. 2000ad is arguably the most influential publication to come out of the UK in the last 30 years – it was certainly instrumental in my career choice, and taught me how to draw. Let’s have an hour dedicated solely to 2000ad.

  50. There was WAY too much of Viz and not enough 2000ad on that programme. Viz has already been pretty well covered by TV, and 2000ad has been neglected, in my view. 2000ad is arguably the most influential publication to come out of the UK in the last 30 years – it was certainly instrumental in my career choice, and taught me how to draw. Let’s have an hour dedicated solely to 2000ad.

  51. It’s nice to know Krazy is fondly remembered. Like Merseymal I gave up on Whizzer And Chips With Krazy (as I think it was briefly known) pretty quickly. It was only then that I realised that Whizzer and Chips had previously been two publications.I don’t think I even knew about Cheeky Weekly. I think I graduated onto Jackpot, about which I remember nothing (The Incredible Sulk possibly?). I’ve a feeling that “merged” with Whizzer And Chips too.I did however recently buy the Cheeky Annual 1982 in a charity shop. I used to love those Cheeky strips that were just an endless succession of jokes. The annual is full of them but the jokes are pretty poor. Maybe they always were.I think my favourite Krazy disguise was the bathroom scales. One other vague memory: that flying saucer/alien thing in the Krazy Gang. I should point out I’m five years younger than you, Andrew!

  52. It’s nice to know Krazy is fondly remembered. Like Merseymal I gave up on Whizzer And Chips With Krazy (as I think it was briefly known) pretty quickly. It was only then that I realised that Whizzer and Chips had previously been two publications.I don’t think I even knew about Cheeky Weekly. I think I graduated onto Jackpot, about which I remember nothing (The Incredible Sulk possibly?). I’ve a feeling that “merged” with Whizzer And Chips too.I did however recently buy the Cheeky Annual 1982 in a charity shop. I used to love those Cheeky strips that were just an endless succession of jokes. The annual is full of them but the jokes are pretty poor. Maybe they always were.I think my favourite Krazy disguise was the bathroom scales. One other vague memory: that flying saucer/alien thing in the Krazy Gang. I should point out I’m five years younger than you, Andrew!

  53. Borag Thung allI still read 2000AD to this day, didn’t know yu were a connoisseur as well Andrew!I was hoping for a bit more detail about a couple of comics I used to read before 2000AD, namely TV21 & Countdown. Really enjoyed the three proggs on Beeb 4 though.

  54. Borag Thung allI still read 2000AD to this day, didn’t know yu were a connoisseur as well Andrew!I was hoping for a bit more detail about a couple of comics I used to read before 2000AD, namely TV21 & Countdown. Really enjoyed the three proggs on Beeb 4 though.

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