The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic gets a long-overdue documentary.
One of the highlights of what was another great weekend at the Thought Bubble Comics Festival was a screening of the documentary ‘Future Shock!’ which tells the story of 2000AD comic, from its inception in 1977 to the present day.
Since launching to meet an upcoming wave of science fiction films such as Star Wars, the comic has gone through many creative and commercial peaks and troughs to not only survive but thrive in 2014.
The documentary features interviews with the core group of writers and artists including founder Pat Mills, Judge Dredd co-creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, previous contributors including Dave Gibbons, Grant Morrison and Kevin O’Neill, and celebrity fans including Anthrax’s Scott Ian and Neil Gaiman (also a previous contributor).
The documentary really brought home for me just how vital the comic was in establishing British talent; one need only visit a comic book shop to realise just how many of the industry’s biggest names were at one point involved in writing or drawing for the weekly anthology comic.
Such themes are explored throughout the documentary, as talk turns to the mass exodus of British talent to the States, culminating in seminal works like Watchmen. The often outspoken Pat Mills (in this film if not 24/7) is right in claiming some of the credit for the resurgence of comics into the American mainstream in the late 80s and early 90s – after all, he gave much of their creators their first big break in the industry on this side of the pond.
Without the supporting talent on deck to take the reins, the comic suffered a decline in the 90s; with controversial editor David Bishop bravely contributing to the documentary, we realise the tough decisions he faced to keep the title afloat during his time at the comic. Of course, he was merely trying to keep the guys upstairs happy; but as the publishers at the time treated 2000AD as something of an afterthought it received only criticism rather than support.
Things picked up again for the comic once it had changed hands in the year 2000, with new publishers Rebellion ready to take on the brand and inject it with the freshness and originality which had steered it through the twenty years previous.
Even during those lean years when I read the comic, there was nothing on the shelves like 2000AD. Each week brought visits to strange new worlds and time periods. Even if something in there wasn’t to my taste one week, it would be gone again in six weeks max. And of course, Dredd is one of my all-time favourites – despite his ideology, it was satire before I even understood the concept. Reading this comic every week for a good few years was a big part of the foundations laid in my current realms of geekdom, which gives me a lot to be thankful to the comic and its staff for – which makes Future Shock! a wonderful celebration of that fact.
Future Shock! does a great job of telling the story of The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic through its key figures and biggest fans, and is a very enjoyable watch. Look out for it soon.