Monday, February 26, 2007

30 years of thrill power

I can't let 2000ad's 30th birthday pass without a mention. I wasn't there at the start, but it's been a part of my life for a very long time nevertheless. When it hit the newsstands in 1977 it was just the latest in a long line of British comics, cashing in on the renascent popularity of sci-fi that Star Wars was engendering. It built on its immediate predecessors Battle and Action in being a subversive, cool read that your parents didn't approve of. It was also clever - dripping with black humour and vicious satire, as well as out and out weirdness. It lost its way in the 90s, it could have folded (actually, if you read David Bishop's forthcoming history, you'll see it could have folded many, many times), but it came through and recovered, and is still here, after all its competitors have fallen by the wayside, almost the only comic left in this country.

There's been a couple of articles marking the anniversary, in the Independent on Sunday (a strangely apologetic affair) and online by the BBC (which does a better job of capturing the sense of what's so great and enduring about it). It doesn't have the audience it did in its 80s heyday, of course, but what does? Doctor Who is now acclaimed as a massive success for attracting the same sort of audience figures that got it cancelled in the late 80s. All audiences are fragmented these days, there are simply too many things competing for our attention for anything to have that much impact. But it's still here, still great, and rooted deep in British culture, and that's something to celebrate. So raise a glass and wish Tharg many happy returns, and another 30 years of thrills.

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