Just when I thought I was done talking about 2000AD, Rebellion goes and makes the weekly series available digitally on the same day as U.K. print release, which … well, feels like it should be a game changer at least for 2000AD, if not the larger British comics industry. If things go the way that they should, of course.
It’s pretty much accepted at this point that 2000AD is a massively important series in terms of comics history, right? I mean, whether you’re looking at its status as one of the longest-running (and, today, sadly, few) comics publishing original non-humor content or the number of creators it has introduced to the mainstream who have gone on to become massively important/successful in the American industry, 2000AD is one of those series that justifiably deserves lionization from all quarters. That it’s still continuing to do so — I maintain that Al Ewing, in particular, is a star waiting to be discovered by America beyond his Jennifer Blood work for Dynamite; hopefully Zaucer of Zilk‘s IDW release will help with that — is another reason to applaud the series as well as, you know, read it.
Thing is, 2000AD has always had trouble breaking the American market. In the past, one of the main reasons for this has been because America hasn’t had much familiarity with the kind of short anthology format of the series — sure, it’s had Action Comics Weekly and Marvel Comics Presents, but neither of those really caught on, or produced any beloved work, Weapon X aside — meaning that the stories themselves felt “off” in terms of pacing and formatting, even in collected editions. These days, with manga having made significant inroads with readers (and, I’d hazard, with many readers having gone through decompression and its backlash, and now settling into 20-page installments or the occasional eight-page back-up in their superhero books), that’s arguably less of a deterrent, but that leaves the two potentially larger problems facing 2000AD‘s American Invasion: Price and frequency.
Let’s say that you had decided that you, as an American comic book fan, wanted to keep up with 2000AD in individual issue form, and the Clickwheel digital format it offered didn’t work for you because you didn’t want to read things in either .cbz or .pdf format for whatever reason. That left buying single print issues, which — thanks to import costs and the exchange rate between the British pound and the U.S. dollar — were $5.95 for each 32 page issue and, despite the apparent best efforts of everyone involved, entirely sporadic in appearance through Diamond; it wasn’t unusual for three issues to be released at once, and then have the title disappear for a month or so without any warning. Collecting 2000AD in the U.S. required dedication and patience, to say the least.
Well, until now. At $2.99 per issue and on a regular weekly schedule, digital 2000AD will hopefully push the self-styled Galaxy’s Greatest Comic into a mainstream — the one that’s embraced Monkeybrain, Double Barrel and other digital releases, at least, which feels like the one that counts, these days — if not the mainstream, and in the process maybe accelerate/shift the star making powers of the title so that creators can not only become well-known doing 2000AD work, but successful enough doing it that that can keep doing it without leaving for more lucrative Marvel or DC superhero titles. In some strange fantasy world, 2000AD going worldwide like this will afford the series more success, which will in turn allow it to be more experimental with its content, and bring more and more British talent to international eyes, opening up a whole new world of comics to a whole new world of readers.
Yes, I’m being optimistic. When it comes to this kind of thing, I can only ever hope for the best.