Short stint today, as I'm off to Edinburgh for a BBC event this afternoon. Spent much of the morning reliving events surrounding the failed 2000 AD rival, Toxic!, hence the headline. Total wordcount: 120,000. Current total: 73,306. Right, here's your extract...
Prog 700 was the first issue to launch such a promotional push. It introduced two all-new series, brought back an old favourite and gave readers a sneak preview of a forthcoming story. Wagner was dealing with the aftermath of Necropolis in the Dredd story, while Grant and Ranson collaborated on an emotive Anderson Psi Division serial called Shamballa. Mills and new artist Carl Critchlow offered a teaser for a new sword and sorcery saga starring two old favourites, Nemesis and Deadlock. The two new stories were both drawn by artists best known for their work on Deadline.
Tank Girl co-creator Jamie Hewlett collaborated with Peter Milligan on the surreal serial Hewligan’s Haircut. ‘That came about fairly organically,’ the writer recalls. ‘We wanted to work together. We would meet either in his home in Worthing, or mine in London. We started from scratch with a character that was a fusion of our surnames. We wanted to create a story that would give Jamie’s art full scope. I went away and distilled the notion of a haircut that affected reality.’ The quirky comedy was a hit with readers, but proved to be Hewligan’s last work for the weekly. He’s now best known as part of the best-selling rock group Gorillaz.
The other Deadline alumnis featured in Prog 700 Wired World creator Philip Bond. He illustrated Time Flies, an anarchic time travel tale scripted by 2000 AD newcomer Garth Ennis. The scribe from Northern Ireland had broken into comics with his heartfelt work on Troubled Souls and True Faith in Crisis. Now he was invited to write for the weekly he had worshipped as a boy. Ennis is less than gushing in his assessment of Time Flies. ‘I think if you examine it in detail you’ll find it was, in fact, crap. 2000 AD asked me for a series and that was the load of balls kicking around in my head at the time. Very, very nice art but the story was a load of crap.’
He also pitched a revival of Bill Savage from one of 2000 AD’s earliest strips, Invasion. ‘Savage was always one of my favourite characters as a kid, this terrible shotgun-wielding thug from the East End – just sheer genius. I had him twenty years later escaping from a lunatic asylum in Canada, convinced he was still in England and the Volgs were still in charge. He would go on a rampage and kill everyone – there really wasn’t much more to it than that! Very definitely for the best that it didn’t happen.’ Ennis later wrote Savage into the 25th anniversary prog Tharg story, satisfying his long-held ambition. The character would get a much more serious comeback in 2004 when Mills and Charlie Adlard launched a resistance army story, called simply Savage.