2000AD’s colour spreads

The spotlight is on the early days of British sci-fi comic 2000AD with a new documentary coming out soon called Future Shock. The trailer is here and it’s every bit as anarchic as you’d expect. I’ve interviewed quite a few of the creators over the last couple of years and the thing I love about comics writers and artists is how blunt they are. There’s no pussyfooting around with these guys.

You can buy reproductions of almost all the main stories from 2000AD from Rebellion but as with the early reprints by Titan, there’s always one glaring omission. Every early issue of 2000AD was in black in white, with two colour pages in the middle of the comic. When they’re reprinted, they are almost never shown again in their full colour glory, so later fans miss out. For people who’ve never seen them, here are some of my favourites.

Judge Dredd got the vast majority of the colour spreads. The best ones are all by the awesome Brian Bolland. Check out this massacre by the Dark Judges from Prog 225 (15 Aug 1981) – you can click on all of these to enlarge them:

Prog 225

Putrefy that!

Here’s a cinematic shot of Mega-City One from the pen of Cam Kennedy in my all-time favourite story, The Midnight Surfer from Prog 427 (20 July 1985):

Prog 427

Occasionally, other characters got a look-in too. Here’s mutant bounty hunter Johnny Alpha caught in the Desert of the Living Dead from Prog 111 (5 May 1979). It’s a jagged modernista composition from Spanish artist Carlos Ezquerra. Check out the lines around the panels. The blue logo is cool too, and very unusual:

Prog 111

Just to get in on the act, later, Bryan Talbot’s art on Nemesis the Warlock was promoted to the centre spread. For me, his Gothic take on the alien sorcerer is the most atmospheric of all, in the true Grand Guignol style. Here are the middle pages of Prog 483 (14 Aug 1986):

Prog 483

These spreads are BIG, which explains the slightly poor quality of my reproductions. The pages are too large to fit on my scanner so I had to capture them with my digital camera.

It’s not easy tracking down these issues. When I was last in Glasgow, I went to a back issue shop seeking out old 2000ADs. I was directed to a clothes-horse type rack outside the shop where ragged issues clung on to life, at the rate of three for a pound. I bought the last ones flapping on the rack, so worthless or not, 2000AD is still flying off the shelves.

Anyone else got any favourites from the colour spreads?

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8 responses to “2000AD’s colour spreads

  1. Marvellous. That hell storyline in Strontium Dog was one of the finest they did I think, easily the highlight of Strontium Dog. I’d forgotten the Gronk was there for it. Was he in Judge Dredd originally?

    • Yeah it’s fantastic. I was tempted to show the spread from an earlier issue which features the villain: Fly’s Eyes Wagner. Of course, at the time we didn’t know that one of the writers was actually John Wagner, so there must be a bit of an in-joke there.
      As far as I know, the Gronk only appeared in Strontium Dog. I love the fact that the gronk is so terrified of everything that he runs the risk of a heart attack at even the slightest shock: “Oh Mr Johnny, my heartses…”

  2. Thanks for posting these, Alastair. You are correct, I have reprints of the early Judge Dredd stories that introduced Judge Death and his fellow Dark Judges, and I have never seen that two page spread in color.

    On a related note, how gorgeous is that Brian Bolland artwork? I really miss seeing interior work by Bolland. It’s probably been at least a couple of decades since he illustrated an actual multi-page story. I realize that Bolland is not the fastest artist around. And unlike some others he recognizes that he isn’t speedy and does not overcommit himself, meaning that something like 99% of work is on covers and pin-ups. But it would certainly be lovely if he could draw the occasional story every once in a while.

    • Hi Ben. I love Bolland’s art work too. Apparently, he was given extra time to finish the Dark Judges story because he was the latest but also the greatest member of the artwork team.
      Funnily enough, one of the cheap back issues I picked up in Glasgow had a great Bolland colour spread in the middle, which I wasn’t expecting: a picture of the star ship in the Judge Child Quest.
      I also have the old Titan editions of the Cursed Earth saga and they included some special full-page black and white images by Bolland of characters like the Cursed Earth muties, which I also don’t think have ever been repeated. Perhaps I’ll do a post on the great man himself in the future!

  3. I love these blasts from the past you share, these passed me by mostly as a kid (a poor deprived one at that) but I am slowly picking up all the reprints where I can, as I am a completest and am possibly not that cautious with money.

    • The reprints are pretty pricey, aren’t they? There’s no sense being cautious with money. Some of these comics cost as much as 22p at the time, but I never held back.
      You also have to haunt charity shops to get the back issues. They can sometimes be found below piles of Railway Modelling Enthusiast and Women’s Weekly, or just under that box set of England’s 2005 Ashes triumph against Australia.

      • I will have to give the magazines a goo rummaging, I am tempted to get a Railway Modelling Enthusiast type magazine as well, it is akin to the White Dwarf of collecting and perhaps i could even find something in there for a blog post.

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