The publisher 2000AD came out of Action Comics, a short-lived comic-book series that was withdrawn from sale in 1976 because of complaints about violence. Its writers and artists then set up 2000AD at the start of punk in 1977, and were very much a part of that era with their series of comic books. It’s releases were full of black humour, super-violence, and strangely enough were often distributed through supermarkets and shops, thereby reaching a high readership.
The documentary looks at the company, its creative team, and their productions, including top titles like Judge Dredd, Halo Jones (which was never finished but was written by Alan Moore), Nemesis the Warlock and Rogue Trooper. Of these, Halo Jones and of course Judge Dredd was probably the best regarded—Moore and many others eventually left because the company kept the copyright on the characters created, which was rare in the comics world. Moore’s protégé Neil Gaiman was also a 2000AD writer.
The filmmakers were able to get interviews with almost everyone other than Moore—who from my own personal experience is a deeply unpleasant individual—and the story unfolds quite well. Creators and editors like Gaiman, Grant Morrison, John Wagner and Dredd‘s director Alex Garland feature prominently. The whole things is perhaps a bit self-congratulatory, but that’s to be expected. They go into the problems that 2000AD had in the US—it was a small cult there, whereas in the UK it was relatively mainstream. In addition, Judge Dredd as a crazy fascist authoritarian operating in what is obviously the future US may not have had the audience appeal there but maybe that will change with recent regime change. The documentary covers the Stallone Dredd film and the more recent and fan favourite film Dredd, which has a cult following, but I have to admit that I found it almost unwatchable.
Obviously, since the early days, the company has become much better known because of the fact that its staff have gone on to write and draw some of the best comic books of the last 30 years. This documentary fills in the gaps and goes into the struggles that the company has had over the years. Despite almost being shut down a couple of times and being bought out, 2000AD remains very active today, with lots of new young talent including an increase in hiring more female writers.
The disc includes hours upon hours of extra interview footage, extended scenes, and featurettes on comic book scripts—it’s absolutely loaded with extras.