Future Shock! The Story of 2000 AD is an enjoyable documentary exploring the gestation, birth and evolution of the punk-era originating UK Sci-Fi anti-authoritarian comic. The format of the film is fairly conventional, consisting of a comprehensive overview of the comic’s history featuring interviews with the contributing writers and artists, editors and fans. The film begins with the origins of the comic, as told by the original magazine editor Pat Mills. Pat recounts how he and the original crew of writers and artists were responding to the mind numbing tedium of where British boys comics had got to in the middle of the 1970s.
The documentary re-creates the graphics of the original 2000AD in a cartoon style in striking black and white segues, with a soundtrack which tastefully covers punk, heavy metal, and hard electronic type atmospheres. These cleverly evoke the atmosphere of the time. There is also some reference to the political situation in the United Kingdom in the late 70s and early 80s which fed in to the dark nihilism and violence that informed much of the material in the comic, which was in a part a satire of the time in which it found itself.
The documentary also covers the story of how writers and artists for the magazine were in some regards exploited and not given due credit for their work and creativity. What this meant is when American distributers such as Vertigo caught wind of the immense talent in the magazine, the writers and artists were signed up to produce there own stand alone comics, which in turned evolved to become graphic novels (to this day a derided term amongst true comic aficionados). A prime example of this is Alan Moore, who never completed the Halo Jones story due to feeling exploited, he soon departed, and the rest is history with groundbreaking and genre defining collaborations such Watchmen and Swamp Thing. This list of writers who went on from 2000AD to define their own stand alone careers is immense, including Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon.
The documentary explores the influence of 2000AD strips such as Rogue Trooper, Strontium Dog, ABC Warriors, and the most widely known, Judge Dredd. The film Hardware (1990) draws directly on a 2000AD strip titled Shok!, and there were a two attempts (more if you include the Robocop franchise) to turn Judge Dredd in to a movie, the latter 2012 version with screenplay written by Alex Garland more respected and titled simply Dredd.
There is far more to this documentary, with lots and lots of extra material, including full length interviews and strip ‘featurettes’. This is an enjoyable film for anyone interested in comics and how people make a living out of the creative process, and most obviously for fans of 2000AD. This is well worth a watch, and a good starting point for anyone wanting to find out more about the history of this cult British comic.
Future Shock! The Story of 2000 AD is released by Arrow Video on Blu-Ray & DVD on 31st July 2017