40 Years in the cubes

Usual apologies apply, here for not blogging. Much humble sorries.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago it was the official 40th Anniversary of 2000AD.

I tell people my first 2000AD was prog 1. It probably was, but I was seven and things are hazy. Pretty sure my first distinct memory of creating something 2000ad related was around 1980, when I was 10 – and 2000AD had been out for around 3 years.

I can trace this to the story “The Judge Child” – one of Dredd’s early sagas where, along with Judge Hershy and the unfortunately hirsute Judge Lopez (Dredd never approved of his moustache) when I sat with my uncle Paul and built a scale model of the ship Justice-1 out of computer punch card. Including a loading bay with three Bikes. (In my head this thing was a fantastic recreation of the actual ship, honestly can’t imagine it wasn’t just a terrible disaster of “sticky back plastic*” and cardboard)

I Kept reading until around 15/16 when school proved to much of an obstacle for me to remain a comic reader (no outright bullying, just a lot of raised eyebrows and “are you reading comics”)

Started again in the late 80s, dropped in the early 90s.

All through this time though, dredd filled every sketchbook I had. (Even the one noble failure of a sketchbook that begins “I vow not to put any dredd in this sketchbook”… later on that same page…)

Started reading 2000AD sporadically again in the late 90s.

But 2000AD – the year not the comic – was barrelling up towards me fast and I’d yet to make any sort of comic art career. Despite a couple of swings at bat (a graphic novel and comic for fantagraphics, and a short story with Mike Carey for Calibar) the dream was always to draw Dredd. The year was also when I turned 30, it all felt significant and do or die.

In about ’98/99 I contacted WR Logan who was running a small press fanzine of Dredd world stuff via the post and started drawing small press dredd stories. Through Mike Sivier I met Gordon Rennie (Mike was running a small press comic called “Violent!” of which Gordon was a contributor). Mike said “Hey, I have a couple of stories one by Gordon Rennie [ who was a well established 2000AD writer by this point already ] and one by ..” “I’LL DO THE ONE WITH RENNIE” was my immediate answer.

In ’99 I took on a new part time job in computers, hoping to properly pursue comic art in the time I had off and started this blog under the name “Creative Struggling” as a way to document my attempt to break in to comics.

Andy Diggle, then editor, got to see some of the small press stuff I did and at the first Dreddcon, in 2000, I turned up massive portfolio in tow hoping to convince him that even if what I was doing wasn’t good enough yet there was definitely an upward arc to my art.

I went to that first Dreddcon with a portfolio and my girlfriend (and readers, I married her) and came back with a promise of some work a pains in my cheeks from a smile that had stuck on my face the entire weekend.

Gordon was onboard and asked Andy if he could assign me to a dredd he’d written and by 2001 I was lucky enough to fulfil a life long dream and draw for 2000AD, and I’ve been an irregular regular for the comic ever since.

I’ve lost track of the amount of work I’ve done for 2000AD, hundreds, thousands of pages (at one point I counted about 300 pages of Dredd, but I’m pretty sure I’ve done far more than that now)

But it’s tough to accept I’m now part of that history. I imagine it’s the same for every person who’s part of it, right back to Pat Mills and John Wagner.

At the official 40th convention I shook hands with a lot of people, many of whom I think think of me as part of the comic and that’s something for which I’m grateful.

With a bit of luck 2000AD will continue long into the future and as long as I can, I’ll try and be part of that.

Author: PJ

PJ is a Belfast based comic artist, and has been for some time.

1 thought on “40 Years in the cubes”

  1. I remember reading some of your small press stuff — I think I still have a copy of Simply Incredible Bulk around her somewhere — and then feeling a sort of pride at seeing you pop up in Tooth a few years later. Is that weird?

    Anyway, well done on achieving your dream!

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