The Rats and The City

Today I’ve found an old comic book from a comic store, but this isn’t your usual superhero story or even a Judge Dredd story (but I was very close to getting a Judge Dredd comic today!). Rather than buying my usual favourite comic books by 2,000ad, my eye was attracted by another comic that was just barely visible in the stacks. What I found was none other than The City, by James Herbert.

At first glance I thought I’ve found an Alien comic with strange alien, like architecture similar to the space jockey ship interior. However when I pulled it out of the comic stack, I was shocked to see this was actually a post apocalyptic comic book story.

I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t flick through the book to see if I liked it before purchase. It was in a protective pocket and I didn’t want to open it case the shop owner got angry. Anyways, what made me but this over Judge Dredd Yearbook (I think it was 1994?) was the sheer enormity of the front cover with it’s beautiful illustration. The back synopsis whilst very short was also very tempting to take a read.

So I brought this comic book and began to follow the isolation of a travellers journey into the city.

My impressions on the book overall?

The story telling is very limited throughout with only a few texts in each page, describing the journey the Traveller goes on. It’s difficult understanding what the characters goals are as it’s not mentioned until halfway through the story. By then, once it’s revealed that the protagonist is trying to rescue his family in the city, the empathy for the horror that takes place only works for the shock value. Any character building and the relationships is none existent, making you feel like you’ve missed out on those connections.

However, this isn’t to say that this comic book isn’t worth reading (well visually looking since there’s hardly much reading involved) as the art is the books strongest aspect. Ian Miller’s artistic talent is outstanding in the way he illustrates the downfall of the city from the landscape to the people who inhabit it. The buildings are crumbling with contorted structure that look eerie, with a mix of abomination like faces like a nightmare brought to life.

The use of colours is also used to great effect in the way Ian uses a mix of greys, dark blues, blacks and other dull colours to create a morbid and degraded city scape. Contrasting with the blood red sky really impacts the visual presentation of an alien like world, far from what our worlds environment and city scape looks like.

The main protagonist is also designed and coloured in a way as not to be a heroic good guy, or a badass action hero, but a lone man in a tin suit of armour. His humanity is hidden behind the suit disguising his true emotions throughout the first half of the story. He is an alien to the city, for he is a rust orange tin man in contrast to the grey and dull world that he contrasts to. When we do eventually see his true identity in the flesh, even he looks as dead and defeated as the rest of the people that suffer from the post apocalyptic nightmare.

As for James Herbert’s story telling, whilst I’ve mentioned above that there’s a lack story telling, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. These days we get dumped exposition in movies and books that drivel on about too much information, and by the time that’s done you feel bored or just distracted. However, The City gives you hardly any exposition dumps, instead the city and the action tells the story that you can piece together the world you see.

The back synopsis combined with the story makes sense as to what the story is about. It’s not a revolutionary story telling by no means, and it does lack context as to how the apocalyptic war started. There a reason why there’s a lack of information, but I’ll elaborate on that later on.

Overall, I’d recommend giving this a try if your into the illustration story based comic books, the art is worth observing and see the effort that’s been done to illustrate this story’s world. The story can be a downside to the book, it’s not terrible to the point of unreadable, it’s good if your wanting a short story to read.

What I found out afterwards

After reading this comic book, I wanted to find out more about this comic book and its creators. So I did some research and was surprised at what I’ve found, and it made more sense now that I look back on The City.

The City is a loose continuation of James Herbert’s best selling book trilogy series that started with his first book written, The Rats. Now I haven’t read The Rats in full, nor the two sequels from the series, but from what I can gather it’s clear what James had crafted.

The City is the result of what takes place from the trilogy, it’s a visual aftermath of what happen after the apocalypse, the main threat was the Rats. It’s the first and only graphic novel for The Rats book series, and the last story in the franchise.

I’m keen to find the books and read them myself now that I’ve found out more about the fictional world that James had created. If I didn’t pick up The City today, I would never have known about this flawed but beautiful and dark graphic novel.

With that, I’m going to wrap up today’s post and call it a night. Thank you for reading this post, and if you know about James Herbert and Ian Millers works, or The Rats trilogy, share your thoughts below in the comment section.

Until next time!

-Bjorn

12 days of Winter: day ten, change of plans

Originally I was going to dedicate day ten as a gathering of my Sacrosanct Chamber and Nighthaunt models into a photo final. However, plans were changed after I found this softcover comic….

A first edition print by Titanbooks in 1983, Judge Death collects all of the ‘Return of Judge Death’ storyline created by John Wagner and Brian Bolland. This softcover comic collection features Judge Death, a Dark Judge from alternate dimension called Deadworld, who punishes all for their crimes by living, and sentenced to death!

A lot of the imagery in the storyline is iconic not only in the history of Judge Dredd, but also for the Dark Judges who have been a thorn in Dredd side for many years. The first introduction of the Dark Judges is quite horrifying and cool at the same time, as they stand together in a two page spread like they’ve got your attention (almost like a horror film).

My first proper introduction to the Dark Judges was The Dark Judges book one: The Fall of Deadworld, a prequel story that explores the decline and nightmarish world of Deadworld. It’s a fun comic book story which shows your a darker world that’s even worse than Megacity one’s average citizens life. I’m still waiting for book two to be released at my local book shop!

I’m eager to read this story along with the Judge Dread Megazine comics through Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

That’s all for today! I think this year has been a 2,000AD thrill ride finding old comic, and buying new progs for ABC Warriors and Savage storylines. I’m hoping 2019 will be just as good if not better!

Join me tomorrow as we reach the second to last 12 days of Winter post series. Until next time!

12 days of Winter: day eight, Megazine collection

A short post today about recent finding of old sister 2,000ad comics, the Judge Dredd Megazine volume 2!

In total I have 19 issues from #1 to #20, only missing issue #5 in the bundle. I found this collection at my local car boot sale, all for £5! As a 2,000AD fan, I couldn’t miss my chance to get these classic issues, and thank god I got them.

Originally published as a monthly release, Judge Dredd Megazine was a sister comic that expanded the world of Megacity one. It was until 1992 that the comic would go fortnightly, hence why it started with volume two issue one.

I’m still reading through the collection at the minute, as I’ve only got up to issue #8. My favourites so far would be Devlin Waugh: Swimming in Blood and Armageddon: The Bad Man. Both are exciting to read with top notch artwork and story writing.

Thats day eight done as we reach close to Christmas Day (they’ll be a special one too 😉). I’ll be back tomorrow with more 12 days of Winter posts!

Topic of the week: Confession of a comic collector 

We all have something that we want to collect, from trading cards, to stamps, stickers, books and so on. For me, trading cards are one thing (I’ll get on to that in a future post) , but collecting comics is another but stronger obsession of mine. But not just any comic, no, I’m talking about 2,000ad comics!

It can be said that 2,000ad has gone through a lot of changes during its time, from paper material, to comic content and tone. But what hasn’t changed is its continuing focus on one particular mascot (if you could call him that, probably against Mega-city one laws), Judge Dredd! He’s a recognisable character, even when he’s aged a lot through the decades!

I’ve started collecting 2,000ad since way over a decade or so (2003/2004?) buying my first issue when I was really young (couldn’t really understand it back then to be honest). Then I brought my next issue in 2009 when I noticed it was in my local newsagent, and finally I found a whole stack of old issues at an antique shop in 2013. As to this day I’m still hunting down any classic issues that might appear in car boot sales or antique shops.

Why do I collect 2,000ad comics? It’s because I feel connected to the publication more than Marvel and DC. Yes, both publishers are top of the comic book industry and influence in the industry. However, I’ve lost interest in these two after reboots to their universes, which made me feel like I’ve wasted my interest in their characters and lore progression.

2,000ad on the other hand is different, it’s main star, Judge Dredd is a continuing story that throws all sorts of story’s and situations in the post apocalyptic America. For example in Prog 507 (prog meaning ‘program’) story about an Italian mobster boss known as Giovanni, who wants a Taxidermist to stuff his deceased goons body’s without the judges knowing. weird right?

However, the publication does have its flaws, as many antagonist characters in the story arcs are killed off or in prison, making it hard to re introduce these foes to the story. Whilst Judge Death is an eternal character, he can’t be overused for every story, or else be a boring villain. But never the less, Judge Dredd is certainly an interesting and unique comic run that aims to show no mercy to it antagonists. 

But what’s my favourite 2,000ad prog series? Well it’s actually a weird name to those who have never heard of it, but my favourite series is the ABC Warriors! Why you may ask? It’s because of the many personalitys that are shown within the featured characters in the series. Some are badass, others tragic, and some just plain psychotic. 

Whilst I’ve only glimpsed at a few combined issues from the series, it’s still impressive how much efforts the writers and artist put into each story part in the series arcs. My personal favourite is Prog 581, an absolutely jaw dropping display of art work by Simon Bisley. I recommend having a look at this issue yourself, as I can’t describe how detailed the art is in my own words.

[off topic paragraph on the Dredd movie, skip to the next paragraph if your not interested] I’ve even seen the Dredd movie (not the Stallone one……) which really captured the essence and tone of the Judge Dredd universe. Karl urban nailed the performance of Dredd from its source material, and for once was a film that was really enjoyable. Sadly, as many of you will know there won’t be a sequel due to its low box office result. Such a shame, the film was probably the best cinematography I’ve seen. Personally, I feel it should have had a second chance to really show itself as a contender in the comic book movie industry. But I guess it’ll be just a dream now.

Anyway, back to the subject. I think now is the time to show you guys what comics I’ve collected on 2,000ad. [Note: issue cover art, content and publication belong to 2,000ad and its respective creators. I dont own the art nor content within the issues. These are shown for visual display only]

Yup, quite a few comics, not a horde of comics but just a few in my collection, Spanning from 1986 to 2014. The reason why I haven’t brought any new issues is due to being distracted from buying them, and spending more time getting books and Table top miniature collection. But then again, do I need to buy new issues?  Feel happy with what I’ve gotten, incomplete story’s yes, but never the less a pleasure to look at now and then when I want to see some nostalgic comic books. 

Not only that, but I want to preserve these comics to future generations who want to see a piece of history. I feel it’s my obligation to make sure people see what creative talent was like back when the issue was made, showing what comics were like back in that decade it was produced. 

Whilst comic books of today have evolved from the use of inking and colouring to newer digital mediums, i still think the traditional use of comic book art is still amazing even to this day. 

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I hope you guys have enjoyed this very personal blog post on my particular interest in 2,000ad comics. I felt it was a great way of introducing old and new reads to something that they might want to have a look at. 

If you have stories to share on your experience with this subject, or even post you have made on your collection. Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and opinions. 

I hope to see you guys again soon!

-Bjorndovah

[Note: I do not own the following; characters, story arcs and series mentioned in this post. They are owned by 2,000ad and its respective creators]