OOOAD. Built in London by art-droids. writer-droids, lettering-droids and edited by an alien. That was the myth: the cult of Tharg. Although the 2000AD answering machine still responds, ‘Hello, this is Tharg’s answer-droid. if you care to leave a message, someone, or something will get back to you,’ after sixteen years on the streets and 834 issues. the truth is coming out. Two of the three writers who launched the comic back in l977 were Scottish, several of the subsequent editors have had Scottish provenance and now two young Scots, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, are leading the comic’s ‘Summer Offensive’. Offensive is the word, if the new character Big Dave created by Morrison and Millar is any indication. Manchester’s hardest man. he is guaranteed to leave the politically correct squirming in their Guardian-lined living rooms. A racist, homophobic. sexist. pit bull-owning, bigot of a Sun reader, he thinks the ftrmament still shines out of Margaret Thatcher’s fundament. ‘We didn’t set out to be offensive.’ says Millar, ‘our initial thoughts about Dave were that we better have a humorous story. People have moved away from the traditional comic view of humour, things are more dangerous and the post-Viz- audience laughs at different things.’ Morrison agrees that the story takes elements from the likes of Viz, and throws them back in the face of Britain: ‘Big Dave is what we were supposed to aspire to be over the Thatcher years. He is the Sun- educated classless man.‘
It is a stance that recalls 2000AD’s early days, when the comic’s deep irony and anarchic anti-authoritarian attitude made it a hit with the punk generation. During the darker days of the miners’ strike the comic’s leading strip: Judge Dredd, (a fascistic policeman who rides around a 22nd century mega-city dispensing instant
photograph PAIJI. McGUIGAlI
justice) was de rigueur reading for any
HIE IIL L Q.
Back in 1977, an alien landed in
Central London: Tharg, known as
The Mighty One. Thom Dibdin caught
up with the being who is the the galaxy’s greatest comic editor to jaw about Dredd, Big Dave, Scottish comic writers and polystyrene cups.
Grant Morrison: ‘20!!!” is read by people who don't read comics, it is the same audience that picks up singles and goes to Arnold Schwarzenegger tilms.’
‘One of the virtues of comics is that you can read them and throw them away. it is information in a cheap and accessible iorm.’
self respecting member of the Socialist Workers Party. In the late 80$ 2000AD was the throwaway fashion accessory for dance groovers in the happening Acid House scene.
‘Just as 2000AD got popular it seems to have become part of the establishment,’ says Millar of recent trends in the comic. Hence the Summer Offensive, ‘Two months of throwaway buzz and bliss: a weekly ﬁx of satire. mindless violence and cheap thrills.’ This is pop comic-culture according to Morrison, ‘2000AD is read by people who don’t read comics, it is the same audience that picks up singles and goes to Arnold Schwarzenegger films. The idea is to capture the spirit of the moment and make it more focused and directed towards what people
Mark Millar is co-ironting the man 'Surnnrer Oﬂensive' with Morrison: “We didn‘t set out to he the post- Vlz audience laughs at different things.’
are interested in: going out, getting drunk. dancing, taking drugs or whatever.’
Besides their collaboration on Big Dave, Morrison has scripted Really and Truly, a story about two girls in the near future. ‘They’re smugglers, shifting strange drugs and illegal dance music from a place called Teknograd to San Francisco. I‘ve tried to do something that is coming out of the rave culture, using the techniques of the music, like sampling. It also picks up on the 705 revival stuff, A Clockwork Orange, Biba, acid jazz and West Coast cybernetic culture.’
Millar is responsible for the more conventional, by 2000AD standards, Maniac 5. Described as ‘Thunderbirds for bastards’, it concerns a deranged criminal, dragooned into government service, who can transfer his consciousness into ﬁve different cybernetic bodies. Then there is Dredd, until 1991 written almost exclusively by his creator John Wagner, then taken over by 2000/10 staffer Garth Ennis until now, when for the first time he has been given to an outsider: the strange mind of Morrison.
‘The thing that interests me about Dredd is that he is completely one- dimensional,’ says Morrison. ‘We even said zero-dimensional,’ adds Millar. ‘Even Batman, who is a fairly simplistic character, at least takes off the mask and is someone else and he has a revenge motivation and there is a certain psychological tension,’ Morrison explains, ‘but Judge Dredd has nothing. He is just a bad bastard with a big gun. That is what is interesting about him. I can’t imagine him having a face. The helmet is Dredd.’ Whether Sylvester Stallone, who has signed to play Dredd in the long awaited Dredd: The Movie, will keep his helmet on remains to be seen.
Morrison and Millar’s appearance in 2000/10 is not out of a vacuum. Thiny-year-old Morrison was responsible for the revisionist
5 The List 2—15 July 1993