Happy Birthday Tintin

I’m a day late with this because yesterday, January 10th, marked 90 years since the first appearance of Tintin in Le Petit Vingtième, the children’s section of a Brussels newspaper.

Over time the Tintin stories have become larger and introduced an eclectic cast of characters, including Captain Haddock (a personal favourite) and identical but unrelated detectives Thompson and Thompson, who inspired a band.

And, of course, there was the 2011 film which, although we have the DVD, I haven’t actually seen. Not all the way through, anyway.

Inevitably, there are year long celebrations in Belgium, including a €5 coin due to be released sometime this month. If I lay my hands on one of these, I’m keeping it!

Forty years of thrill-power

The Guardian notes that 2000ad turned forty on Sunday.

It’s not, strictly, correct to say the world had seen nothing like 2000AD before. A few months earlier, in October 1976, a title put out by the same publishers, IPC, had died an ignominious death. Action was stuffed to the gills with anti-authoritarianism, ultraviolence and gore. Hugely popular with kids, especially boys, it proved too unpalatable for the nation’s moral guardians. Questions were asked in the House, tabloids fulminated against its bloody violence.

“I felt, in a way, that science fiction could escape the heavy flak we had got with Action,” says Mills, who now lives in Spain. “With Action, the message was loud and clear because most of it was set in what was the present time. With 2000AD, we could do the same sort of thing but if anyone complained we could say, ‘Look, it’s just some robots in the future.'”

That’s Pat Mills, the writer/editor who created Action, and the first editor of 2000ad.

Although I grew up with 2000ad — and continued reading it way too far into my 20s — I can’t claim to have been there at the beginning. For me, it all started in 1978 with Starlord, a sister title which merged with 2000ad by the end of the year. This merger brought both Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters (which later morphed into the ABC Warriors) into the merged title which went from strength to strength.

What made 2000ad so durable is that the stories tend to work on several levels. There is, of course, plenty of violence and plenty of action; but there is also a depth and a moral complexity to the stories and it is this that keeps them fresh and interesting long after the initial thrills have worn thin.

In 2002, [Matt] Smith was appointed the ninth editor and is currently the longest-serving incarnation of Tharg the Mighty, as well as the one to see the comic reach its milestone birthday.

“It’s a great achievement,” says Smith, “and one that is testament to the creative teams who have worked on the comic over the years.”

And long may it continue.

Judge Dredd to (finally) take on Ronald McDonald

A page from the now uncensored Cursed Earth storyline. If you are British and of a certain age you will be well aware of 2000AD and you will probably remember the Cursed Earth, in which Judge Dredd travelled across the irradiated wasteland that is the future North America to deliver a vaccine to Mega-City Two.

It turns out that a couple of episodes of that series, in which Dredd took on corporate mascots such as Ronald McDonald, the Burger King, the Michelin Man and the Jolly Green Giant, were pulled due to legal fears.

Now for the good news Comics Alliance (via) reports that “due to recent changes in UK law governing parody” the full story can now be told.

Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth Uncensored, a new printing of the story, will not only restore the pulled episodes but will also reprint reprint Brian Bolland and Mick McMahon’s color spreads.

It’s due to be printed in the US and the UK next July and is going straight on my Amazon wishlist.