Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Prog 1 - DAN DARE

The first ever 2000ad center spread!

Not really much to say on this strip. Dare seems to be the weakest in the 2000ad line-up, which is surprising because Dare was probably the main draw for a lot of adults to buy this comic book for their kids.

I'm sure fans of the 50's Dare opened up the center pages and recoiled in horror to what they've done with their childhood hero. Can't blame them really. This version of Dare was eons apart from the 'original'. Apart from Dares trademark eyebrows, and the presence of SASA, everything about the character had changed!

For information on the 'original' Dan Dare...click the link below.

A shame really...but again it was the late 70's and 2000 was trying to be cutting edge, which I think they acheived for the most part.

Apart from this not being your fathers Dan Dare...the art by Belardinelli, even though his characters are quite stiff, is unbeatable when it comes to drawing anything cosmic.

In this strip Dare and his compatriots are passing Jupiter when there ship loses power and the crew are all killed save for Dare who manages to escape. The Fleet controller removes Dare from command because of the loss of the ship. (He doesn't believe Dares story of alien interference.)

Dare takes matters into his own hands and stows aboard another cruiser that's due to pass by Jupiter to get to the truth! And we end the first chapter on the usually 2000ad trademark cliffhanger!

As you can see below...the New 'Drokk' swearing Dare(that always seems so out of place for me to read Dan Dare using a 2000ad swear word!) is a far cry....
from the 'Original' clean cut, stiff upper lip Dan Dare.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Prog 1 - FLESH

Another great in-your-face-splash page.
This strip combines two of the best things I loved as a kid...Cowboys and Dinosaurs!
Flesh was a strip that was waaay ahead of it's time. Before 'Jurassic Park' there was Flesh. The story was quite fun too.

The concept was really quite simple...In the 23rd Century animals have more or less disappeared and human are surviving on synthetic foods. But people want REAL meat. So, they go back in time and harvest dinosaurs. It doesnt't matter because the dinosaurs are going to be exstinct anyways.

This is actually a pretty cool concept because you can get a lot of mileage out of it...which is what Pat Mills later did with the other Flesh books. In this first installment we see how the cowboys round up the herd of plant eating dinosaurs and keep the tyrannosaurs at bay. Another interesting theme is how the arrival of 23rd Century man is upsetting the balance in the food chain. And in this episode we have the cliche of the poor sap who's finishing his tour of duty that day and is going home...but never makes it because...he's been eaten by a crocodile.

The smell of blood sends the tyrannosaurs into a frenzy and they attack the herd of Styracosaurs. Panicked, the styracosaurs blindly stampede towards the edge of a cliff. The cowboys do their best to contain them but it's the strips 'hero' Earl Reagan' that saves the day by prompting the leader of the pack away from the cliff edge. Earl looks a lot like Dean Martin from Rio Bravo in this strip.

The day is saved but at a high loss. Twenty rangers lost their lives stopping the Tyrannosaurs from destroying their payday. And Reagan leaves the reader with a ominous glimpse of what is to come.

What I remember about this strip as a kid and the intallments of 'Flesh' that lie ahead is, it was pure bloody carnage and mayhem. Everything a kid loves! As you can see from the crocodile panel and the panel below, 2000ad wasn't shy about showing the pure savagery of the dinosaurs or the ranchers...both vying for their pieces of the pie.

A great opening chapter to a strip that would get better and better as the progs went on..

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


What a great splash page to begin a story with.

Invasion wasted no time in getting straight into the action. In 6 pages we get the invasion of Britain by an East Asian army -The Volgans -(no doubt based on the Soviet Union.) The reluctance of other nations to step in and help Britain, raping of Britains natural resources, a glimpse of how harsh living under a Volgan regime would be and finally, last but not least Bill Savage's 'origin' story. All that in 6 pages!
You can tell by the art on the strip that the artist used photo-reference a lot. But this is photo-reference done really well as opposed to some artists today that more or less trace the photos. Here's a panel with Angela Rippon-esque newsreader. To those that don't know or where too young to remember...Angela was the first female news anchor for the BBC.

Bill Savage was based on Stanley bakers character from 'Hell Drivers'.
Watch the trailer here...www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8qFD2s0Fwg

It wasn't unusual for Pat Mills, who was editor then, to loosely base ideas or characters on popular movies or actors. For example...the Harlem Heroes was Mills answer to Rollerball and Dredd was basically Clint Eastwoods "Harry Callahan'.

The basic story is this...In a war that took only 8 hours, Britain has been invaded by a harsh and brutal regime from Eastern Asia. Bill Savage is a lorry (Truck) driver who's returning to his family when he finds out that his family have been killed by a stray shell from a Volgan tank. Savage finds his shotgun and takes out the nearest Volgan patrol.

Britain may have surrendered but Savages war has only just begun.

Savage is Britains 'Punisher' or is the Punisher the USA's 'Savage'?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Prog 1 - Cover

One of the major selling points for the launch of 2000ad was not only the free gift of the Space Spinner (Eagle did the same marketing ploy with it's relaunch in the 80's) but the return of Dan Dare.

I figure, the powers that be, decided to revamp Dan Dare for 2000ad to be a selling point for Dads to pick up the issue because they would have probably read Dan Dares adventures in Eagle when they were kids and wanted to share the same experience with their own children. But I bet they didn't expect this Dan Dare!

More on that later.

What I love about this cover is it's simple effective design, the 'coming straight at you' classic logo and the hyperbole text... 'Dinosaurs', 'Stop press: Great Britain Invaded', 'Hyper-Power' and of course the promise of a 'New' Dan Dare. What kid would not like all those things? Oh, and the neat little Kevin O'Neill drawn Tharg head!

On the inside we get a double page spread of what's coming next week. Notice that there's no Dredd in the ad even though he appeared in issue 2. There is an ad, however, in the back of the issue. I figure that they didn't have Dredd ready by then and they were still struggling with what to do with him. I love the nice curve and flow to this ad...there is a lot of information and in your face graphics. 2000ad really did pack a lot of punch...and of course the Free gift - stickers to make you look Bionic or 'Biotronic'.

Great Stuff!