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Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD
IMDB Rating: 7.7/10 from N/A votes
Release: 04 Dec 2015 /

Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD

Genre: Documentary
Director: Paul Goodwin,
Synopsis: Documentary covering the highs and lows of 2000AD's history, from its inception after the demise of Action to the present day.

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Critic Reviews

I used to buy 2000AD myself back in the mid 80's. I remember it clearly was a cut above the rest of the comics of the time (with the noticeable exception of Warrior magazine which was aimed at a slightly older readership and was the comic that launched Alan Moore's 'V For Vendetta'; sadly there is no reference to Warrior in this documentary which is a shame given that it was a hugely influential British comic in itself). Anyway I digress, 2000AD emerged in the late 70's and this film draws parallels to its birth and the rise of punk rock. I suppose they both were coming from similar places looking back on it, with the anarchic, satirical tone of the comic coming from a similar ball-park to the anger of the music. The documentary focuses a lot on the many ways in which 2000AD differentiated itself from the other boy's comics of the time and it is definitely true that it was coming from a decidedly more original place than the likes of Victor or Warlord. Its true progenitor was Action, however, which was a comic I vaguely remember, which featured strips such as 'Hook Jaw' whose anti-hero was a great white shark that went around eating unscrupulous human beings. The problem Action had was its violent and satirical tone was based around stories set in a more recognisable world and so it was too close to the knuckle and was ultimately banned. Editor Pat Mills decided to make a new comic and he adopted a tactic that Hammer Studios had twenty years before, when they started to bring gory horror films to the British cinemas. They did so by setting the stories in the 19th century and basing them around the supernatural, this distancing measure led the censors of the day to pass them uncut; what 2000AD did was retain the attitude of Action but to give it the distancing element of science fiction. And with this, a British institution was born.

The comic was decidedly different from the American equivalents which focused on superheroes. The characters 2000AD introduced seemed altogether more unusual and original. More specifically, what 2000AD brought to comics was the anti-hero. Their flagship character Judge Dredd was the most obvious example of this, while he fought crime he did so in an extremely heavy-handed and fascistic manner as a member of a police force working under a dystopian state. Set in the USA, this character was a British version of America, in a similar way to how the spaghetti westerns of the 60's were Italian versions of the Old West; consequently because they were coming from a different culture both the spaghetti westerns and Judge Dredd were wilfully more cynical and violent versions of America than we had typically seen. The documentary talks a lot about the violence in the comic but I wondered if it might have been not being able to see the woods for the trees a little bit, as while the comic had a violent element, I don't remember actually buying it for this reason. It was more because of the highly imaginative and original stories such as Nemesis the Warlock, Sláine, Strontium Dog, Rogue Trooper, The Ballad of Halo Jones, Ace Trucking Co., D.R. and Quinch etc etc etc. The freedom the comic offered led to lots of creativity and attracted some highly respected writers and artists to develop very interesting comic strips. Sadly, and perhaps inevitably, many left to work for the American comics from the late 80's onwards and 2000AD went through hard times in the 90's as a consequence. The film touches upon some of the anger and frustration of this time and it seems it went close to folding. Fortunately it surfed the bad times and still runs to this day, almost forty years after its inception. This film has a lot of energy and passion about it, with many people associated with the comic on hand to give recollections. It sometimes labours certain points perhaps to breaking point but it tries its best to cover as much ground as possible and succeeds in being both entertaining and informative about one of the most cherished long-running British institutions and exports we have.

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