Looks like I’m splitting this one in two, so there’s the first part…
I think it was the mid-to-late 80’s when I had my first proper stint of reading 2000AD, The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic. Not entirely sure, but I remember Zenith Book 1, the Oz storyline in Judge Dredd (I was absolutely gutted when Chopper lost to Jugg McEnzie on the finishing line of Supersurf 10) and the first few appearances of PJ Maybe, the Mega City One serial killer.
I also remember a few Strontium Dog stories not drawn by Carlos Ezquerra, which just seemed wrong. I later discovered that this was because he disagreed with John Wagner’s decision to kill Johnny Alpha.
I was with Carlos on that one. When the Final Solution storyline started, I stopped reading 2000AD. Johnny Alpha was one of my favourite characters, and still is. It was bad enough that Max Bubba had killed Wulf even before I started reading regularly, but to kill Johnny?
Not for me, mate.
Incidentally, that’s the only Strontium Dog trade paperback I don’t have. I even have the restart ones, but I don’t have The Final Solution. That story never happened.
Other highlights I remember from the era? Hap Hazard was fun, as was Tyranny Rex. The first few chapters of the Rogue Trooper “Hit” series stick in my mind, too. Probably because of the Steve Dillon artwork.
Talking of artists, I also remember the return of the ABC Warriors, featuring artwork from Simon Bisley. This wasn’t painted, either. For this series, this early in his career, it was black and white, and it was absolutely beautiful. It still is, and the Warriors have never been depicted better (in my opinion) since, until Clint Langley came along.
I returned briefly in the mid-90’s. Must have been somewhere around 1995. Chief Judge Silver was long gone, MacGruder was back and had Dredd in irons on the way to crashing on The Tenth Planet. Ezquerra was making early moves into digital colouring at the time and the results were spectacular. I’d been reading American comics while at University, thanks to the late, lamented Odyssey 7, and seeing the step up in quality between the fairly flat stuff that was the usual at the time and what Ezquerra was doing… yup. It was still in the future back then.
There was also something featuring a squad of Judges out in space, drawn by Colin McNeil. Might have been The Corps, or something. Or was that in the Judge Dredd Megazine (which I was also reading at the time)? I vaguely remember Finn (which seemed like a pretty poor replacement for Slaine) and RAM Raiders (which I don’t remember being THAT bad) and Tharg vanishing for a while to be replaced by Vector 13. That really did not work. Tharg is a big part of what makes 2000AD so unique in comics these days. For one thing, it makes the letters pages worth reading and really ties the whole experience together. When Keiron Gillen was writing Uncanny X-Men, he obviously handled the letters page himself and put Prince Namor (who was on the Extinction Team, as Cyclops called it) on letter-answering duty. It was very, very funny.
I dropped out again for a long time. The comics were eating what little money I had at the time, and something had to go.
The next time I dipped my toe in the water for a sustained period was around 2009 into 2010. I’d bought a fair few progs and had got a bit behind reading them, so while my newborn (3 months premature) son was in hospital, I’d sit by the incubator soaking in Thrillpower.
Obviously some of it arched over, because he’s absolutely fine.
Again, I don’t actually remember a huge amount of what was going on then. I can’t even remember whether the Friday version of Rogue Trooper had died out, or whether it was on it’s arse. Anyway, that mess could very easily have been cleaned up without it getting so messy and without Rogue, Bagman and Helm dying. Unfortunately, whoever was assisting Tharg with editing duties at the time dropped the ball on that one. I did enjoy The 86ers, though, and would love to see them make a comeback, especially if Gordon Rennie and Henry Flint can find the time to do it… they could repair the Rogue Trooper mess, too. Something like a shared hallucination between the remaining GIs, which prompts Raff to go find Venus, Friday and the regened (which they were at the end of the original series, if you remember) Bagman, Gunnar and Helm to go find out what happened to Rogue.
Anyway… highlights that were definitely there from that time: The return of The VCs. An older, damaged Earthworm Smith and a new crew sticking it to the Geeks, with artwork by Henry Flint. Yes. Things getting nasty in Judge Dredd with Hershey being forced out over her wanting to relax the anti-mutant laws, replaced by Francisco (who turned out to be Sinfield’s puppet). Wasn’t really enjoying Cradlegrave, and I downright loathed Zombo.
Since by the time it was getting towards the end of 2010, and I had other things (like moving house and baby duties) on my mind. I was really only reading 2000AD for Dredd, and since the Volgan Wars had finished in ABC Warriors, I reasoned it wasn’t worth the money, so I dropped it. I’d already seen that I could get ABC Warriors trades, so that was where my 2000AD money went.
Then we can jump forward to 2016. In the meantime, I’d bought classics like The VCs, the whole runs of Strontium Dog (except for the story arc that will not be named), ABC Warriors and Rogue Trooper. I’d also seen that John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra had resurrected Johnny Alpha and Wulf to “retell” Strontium Dog. I was up for that, so starting with Prog 1996, I started reading 2000AD again, and this time I’ve kept going.