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Inter-galactic comic book's success is all down to Scots

IT'S the comic that gave the world Judge Dredd, Tharg, Strontium Dog and the ABC Warriors, but 2000AD would be nothing without its Scottish roots, its makers claim.

The year 2000 seemed an impossibly distant future when the first copy of the cult sci-fi comic hit the shelves but today the internationally renowned classic celebrates its 35th anniversary.

Without 2000AD, the world would have missed out on comic book names including Scots Alan Grant, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, while many critics say the comic's dark, satirical voice owed much to Scotland's gallows humour.

Michael Molcher, a spokesman for 2000AD, said: "The cornerstone of 2000AD since issue two has been Judge Dredd, which was created by John Wagner, who is one of the most famous Scottish comic book writers out there.

"The success of 2000AD rests on a whole coterie of Scottish writing talent that has joined us over the years - Our Scottish writers lend a specific voice to 2000AD, which is cynical, satirical, sarcastic and darkly humorous.

"John Wagner is the king of hard-edged, action-based dystopian writing and a lot of our writers and artists, being Scottish, have really brought out a lot of the satirical nature of the content.

"2000AD really does excel at the subversive, anti-establishment, Scottish voice – and that voice is the comic's success."

In fact, its Scottish allegiance was strong enough that the comic marked the SNP's victory at Holyrood in 2007 with a cover showing a Saltire and Judge Dredd dealing with an inebriated Scotsman.

The story, set in the series' post-apocalyptic world, saw Dredd policing the Jock Day Parade, where Synthi-Buckie-drinking Scots walk along Molly Weir Thru-Way after a ritual "bevvy session" before trying out the sport of "long-distance boaking" and violent fighting known as "Sauchiehall Street pavement dancing".

From heavy metal to modern hipster culture, the comic claims to influence big names from Simon Pegg to Jonathan Ross, while comic book superstars like Alan Moore, Mark Millar and Grant Morrison got their first break in its pages.

Launched in 1977, the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, British Leyland cars and IRA threats, popular culture was being influenced by science fiction, which 2000AD tapped into with its anarchic, darkly humorous and gory comic strips.

Wagner, one of the original staff members at 2000AD, brought on board the DC Thomson-trained young writer Alan Grant, who went on to write for American publishers including DC Comics (where he wrote Batman), Marvel, Image Comics and Dark Horse.

For Grant, who is now based in Newtongrange, Midlothian, the rise and sustained success of 2000AD is all due to its Scottish roots.

He said: "We benefited then from a thorough training scheme at DC Thomson. The best talent was coming from Scotland and we had plenty of opportunity to use that talent.

"We did things politically that weren't being done anywhere else. People in Scotland hated Maggie Thatcher and a lot of what we did with Judge Dredd was very much a reaction to that.

"The most obvious thing is the sense of humour of 2000AD. Scottish people very much have a gallows humour and that really shines through.

"It may be an international success, but 2000AD would not be what it is if it had been written without Scots."

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