Convention Review

The 2000AD 40th Anniversary Event

'The Galaxy's greatest comic' marked its 40th anniversary
with a one-day event at the Hammersmith Novotel, London,
on 11th February 2017, Old Age PSIFAn Anthony Heathcote reports.


Having found the Hammersmith Novotel venue, and taken the lift from street level to reception, it turned out Registration and the cloak-room were back at ground level. Two escalators down proved a bit quicker. Registration was in a somewhat empty exhibition hall rather than by the doorway, the desks where spotted way in the distance by the back wall. Registration was slick and with a rather lean goody bag (a couple of back issues of Summer Specials, re-introduced from 2014), I headed back to the main event.

The 40th anniversary celebratory bash cum one-day mini-con was very much a fan event with all the 2000AD Great & Good, script and art creator-droids present (there must been over 60 or so there), many with long queues for signings and sketches. And when the queues died off, you just wondered up for a chat. Tharg’s Nerve Centre and Pat Mills were particularly busy.

The main programmed events were on the Millicom Stage and all were well attended, seating about 200+, but it was prudent to get in the queue for events in good time as they rapidly grew. I just managed to squeeze into the 12:00 noon prog, ‘The Originals’, with Alan Grant, Dave Gibbons and Mike McMahon on looking-back to the launch and the early years. Back then, no one knew where 2000AD was going; no one thought it would last, but it was good fun.

40 Years of Thrill-power Festival: The Originals panel

One of the heavy-weight events was ‘The Law Masters’ with John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra in discussion with host Kelly Kanayama. John outlined the early days working with Carlos and how stories developed. Inevitably, ‘why is it so successful’ was raised. Who knows? The development was gradual as was Mega City 1 and the whole Dredd-world with nothing planned too far ahead. The humour, parody and reflections on the real (and not so real) world all played their part. It just captures life in the not-too-far future in such an amusing and entertaining way. As questions were opened to the floor, the future of Dredd was considered. An aging Dredd is a real possibility but his demise — no. John said that he regrets the killing off of Jonny Alpha, all done in too much of a hurry and without sufficient thought. John also commented that over the years, Mega City 1 has had many disasters but ultimately nothing changed. He felt it was time for a step change, hence Chaos Day, a dramatic and permanent change to Mega City 1; not the same again. And the future? Watch out for a buffoon monkey (not from ApeTown) on the rise in the Academy of Law, maybe?

Other parallel streams were running in the Tir Nan og Talk Space and Iso Cube Live Drawing included:-
          • ‘Writers in Conversation’ with Emma Beeby, Al Ewing & Rob William.
          • The ‘Look of 2000AD’ (Parr/Hughs/Parkhouse/Bowland droids) gave an insight into the effort of production of 2000AD and the drift to full colour and digital. So much easier now.
          • Editors Re-United’ hosted by Matt Smith with Andy Diggle, Steve MacManus, Richard Burton and the Dave Bishop in the audience.

All programmes were excellent with a good mix of topics and a chance to raise questions from the floor. The Event-Droids worked overtime, (give ‘em some extra oil), getting the programmes started on time and maximising the audience particularly for the Millicom stage.

40 Years of Thrill-power Festival: Outer Limits panel

Walking To (And Around) The 2000AD 40 Years Of Thrill Power Festival In Hammersmith

I had a quick chat with the actress who played Durham Red from Strontium Dog Fan Films who revealed that a new epic is now in production hopefully for release later in the year (2017). Check their site for further details and see one of their films below.

Search and Destroy, A Strontium Dog Fan Film

All in all, Tharg treated us to a thrill-powered zarjaz day (what else would you expect). Apart from the Slaine Bar which had clearly been attacked by greater spotted thrill-suckers (beer so cold it ought to be solid and was ghastly sustenance direct from Zrag), all the rest of the event was thoroughly enjoyable.

Thanks Tharg, and roll on the next 40 years.

Splundig vur Thrigg.

Anthony Heathcote

Anthony Heathcote is a mathematician and a founding-generation member of Hatfield PSIFA (now Hertfordshire University). The first generation of PSIFAns (1978 – '82) had a relationship with 2000AD back in its early years once the sister comic, Starlord, merged with 2000AD. PSIFA members twice visited Tharg's Nerve Centre, then in Kings Reach Tower London, the 2000AD team were Guests of Honour at PSIFA's second Shoestringcon, and one of its early editors, Alan Grant, was Guest of Honour at PSIFA's 1980 annual banquet (Chinese dinner 'C5'). The 2000AD alien character, the Gronk, became Hatfield PSIFA's official mascot. Some of the first generation PSIFAns, including two of SF² Concatenation's founding editors, still follow the adventures of Dredd, Strontium Dog, et al.


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