Sex And The (Mega-) City!
I was thinking about calling this the “Sex Post”...but don’t tie me to it!
The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic™ went through a bit of an identity crisis during the 1990’s, many of the old guard, a cadre of the UK’s finest talents: Bolland, Davis, Gibbons, Fabry, McMahon, Moore, O’Neill - even Bisley, had moved on to pastures new across the pond, leaving a vacuum of creativity.
Fortunately that void was soon filled with a whole new wave of exciting young creators: Ennis, Fegredo, Hewlett, Millar, Morrison, Phillips, Staples and Quitely (to name but a few!).
During this time, thanks in no small part to the ‘British Invasion’, mainstream US comics had apparently “grown up”, with groundbreaking works such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The Dark Knight Returns, Maus and Sandman released in the the popular graphic novel format of the late1980’s,featuring mature, intelligent, sometimes challenging story-telling.
Also with more adult-oriented comics like Deadline, Viz and the rise of the “lad’s mag" in the UK, the new guard of young fearless creators determined to stamp their own mark on the comic, veered it away from traditional all-action science fantasy, toward a more adult humour direction, akin to those aforementioned titles on the higher shelves of the country’s newsagents at the time.
To make matters worse in a typical reactionary and unpopular management decision, new Danish publishers, Egremont, in an attempt to shake the “comics are just for kids" label, decided to sex things up and reached out to Loaded magazine - doyen of 90s laddish culture - placing a Judge Dredd advertisement in it’s pages, as former editorial droid David Bishop cringingly recalls:
'An advertising agency was brought in to design the ads and came up with the slogan: “2000AD: Women Just Don’t Get It”.
Horrified by the campaign’s blatant misogyny, he goes on to say, ‘2000AD had sailed close to the wind with its depiction of women sometimes, but female characters always gave as good as they got. These ads were simply offensive, depicting 50% of the population as brainless bimbos or butch, man-hating lesbians. We pleaded with management not to run the ads but was told that marketing decisions were down to management, not editors’!
Not surprisingly, the comic was lambasted by outraged readers, some of whom cancelled subscriptions, and despite helping Loaded sell an extra 50,000 copies with an issue featuring a Judge Dredd cover, it cost the comic 500 sales that week alone.
Things culminated with the now notorious “Sex Prog" (Prog1066,28Oct’97), released sealed in plastic, bearing an unprecedented “Not For Sale To Children" warning on the cover; the contents were a little risque for 2000AD but hardly pornographic!
It seemed the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic™ had lost its way, resorting to cheap gimmickry and slightly sexist content.including dire pop culture tribute strip, The Space Girls and an adaptation of the decidedly mediocre movie A Life Less Ordinary - this was a testing time for the weekly Prog…
Happily, as the 90s drew to a close 2000AD found its feet again, and ushered in a new age of exciting young talent and fresh ideas, whilst maintaining its irreverent attitude, in keeping with the new millenium which gave the comic its name!
- Top: The infamous “Sex Prog" (28Oct’97) feat. Space Girl, Wide Open - Cover art- Greg Staples
- Judge Dredd gets in on the act, in Attack Of The Sex-Crazed Love Dolls. from the Sex Prog - Greg Staples(a).
- Nikolai Dante gets sucked in to the Octobriana Seduction (Prog1116,21Oct’98) - cover art: Simon Fraser.
- Dante's at it again! The Octobriana Seduction (Progs1113-16,30Sep-21Oct’98) - Andy Clarke(a), and Russia’s Greatest Love Machine (“Sex” Prog1066,28Oct’97) - Chris Weston(a).
- Camp Vamp Devlin Waugh goes in hard against convicted killers-turned-vampires from underwater prison Aquatraz, in Swimming In Blood (Judge Dredd Megazine2.01-09,27Jun-22Aug’92). Cvr art: Sean Phillips
- Hot Dog! Mutant bounty hunter Johnny Alpha gets caught short in Strontium Dog caper The Keeler Conspiracy (Progs1174-80,5Jan-16Feb’00). Cvr art: Dylan Teague (Prog1176,19Jan’00).
- The Joy Of Dex! One half of gun shark duo, Sinister Dexter, Ramone Dexter is comfortable around the ‘laydeez’ - which is more than can be said for the girls, in this knowing cover from Money Shots (Progs1227-28,31Jan-7Feb’01). Cvr art: Richard Elson.
- Fun Again, For Finnegan! Other half of contract killers Sinister Dexter, Finnegan Sinister is being led into the full Off-Lode Experience (Progs1313-21,16Oct-11Dec’02)! Cvr art: Simon Davis.
- Judge Dredd Gets An Eyeful! Dredd has his hands full as he tries to protect an innocent family with an unusual talent! Crime Of Passion (Meg213,16Dec’03) Cvr art: Cliff Robinson (see the original uncensored subscribers cover here - never released).
- Sex As A Sport! Welcome to the Mega-Olympics, where future events include Competitive Staring, Human Taxidermy and of course…Sex! We’re first introduced to sex as an Olympic sport when infamous human taxidermist, Jacob Sardini comes out of retirement to compete in the 2116 games in Kathmandu. And later Mega-City One couple Annette Keene and Hardy Dix, are told to take a dive in the World Sex Championships,being held in the Big Meg, by kidnappers who have their son. Return Of The Taxidermist (Megs 2.37-46,18Sep’93-5Feb’94) - Ian Gibson(a) & Crime Of Passion (Meg213,16Oct’03) - Cliff Robinson(a).