This guide is part of 45 Year Of Thrills, How to Love Comics’ celebration of 2000 AD’s 45th anniversary throughout 2022. Find out more and read other posts in the series here.
Over the past 45 years, 2000 AD has been a vital comic anthology in the English-speaking world. It’s home to iconic characters, such as Judge Dredd, and has been a breeding ground for celebrated writers and artists.
While it’s popular in the UK, 2000 AD is less known internationally. Outside its homeland, it’s like a secret bar that only a select few know about. Although, that has nothing to do with the quality. It operates differently from US comics, which most are more familiar with, and can be perceived as tricky to get into as a result.
It doesn’t have to be! This comprehensive guide will shine a light on everything you need to know about 2000 AD.
Read on to find out the following:
What is 2000 AD?
For those unfamiliar, 2000 AD is a weekly* British comic anthology. Each prog (that’s what they call their issues) is jam-packed full of science fiction thrills, along with the occasional fantasy or horror stories too.
Over its 45 year history, 2000 AD has been home to hundreds of comic series. The most notable is Judge Dredd, which debuted in Prog #2 (1977) and has been in almost every prog since. Other popular strips include Rogue Trooper, Future Shocks, Nikolai Dante, Strontium Dog, Brink, Slaine, just to name a few. You can see the entire list here.
*Technically, it’s 50 progs a year and the occasional special.
The structure of 2000 AD
Each prog follows the same structure.
Each issue has five strips, which span ~5-10 pages. Unless it’s a standalone tale, they’re serialised over multiple weeks. This could be as simple as two parts. However, there have been some Judge Dredd epics that have gone on for more than 40 parts. Once a story is complete, that series is rotated out for a new or returning strip. If there is still more to tell with the characters or concepts, the series will come back a few months to a few years later.
Occasionally there will be extra-sized issues, such as the end-of-year 100-pager. These are sprinkled throughout the year and contain a larger page count and more/longer strips.
The one thing that is always constant is Judge Dredd. It will always be present in each prog, traditionally opening the anthology.
2000 AD also has other semi-recurring features. Some of these include:
- Tharg’s Future Shocks: One-off stories with a twist ending. Often used as a testing ground for new talent
- Tharg’s 3rillers: Standalone stories told in three parts
- Tharg’s Terror Tales: Similar to the Future Shocks but focused on horror.
Who has contributed to 2000 AD?
Since its inception, 2000 AD has been a breeding ground for writing and artistic talent. Some have had long careers in the anthology. Others have made big waves internationally – sometimes outside of comics.
You might recognise some of the names that have graced the anthology’s pages at some time if you’re a regular reader of US comics. These include, but are not limited to:
- Alan Moore
- Neil Gaiman
- John Wagner
- Alan Grant
- Al Ewing
- Garth Ennis
- Grant Morrison
- Alex de Campi
- Dan Abnett
- Pat Mills
- Peter Milligan
- Mark Millar
- Simon Spurrier
- Carlos Ezquerra
- Mike McMahon
- Dave Gibbons
- Simon Bisley
- Brian Bolland
- Steve Dillon
- Alan Davis
- Trevor Hairsine
- Frank Quietly
- Kevin O’Neill
- Sean Phillips
- Chris Weston
Is everything connected?
No. Unlike Marvel or DC, not every 2000 AD comic is part of a shared universe. Most series are their own thing, without any connection to anything else.
However, there are a few exceptions to this. Some of these include:
- Durham Red: A spin-off of Strontium Dog
- The 86ers, Hunted, and Jaegir: Each of these are spin-offs of Rogue Trooper
- Absalom and The Diaboliks: Characters in these series first appeared in Caballistics, Inc
There are also several Judge Dredd spin-offs. Some of the more notable ones include:
- Judge Anderson, Psi Division
- The Fall of Deadworld
- Devlin Waugh
- Tales from the Black Museum
- The Simping Detective
The spin-offs are often based on characters that appeared in another series and were deemed popular or interesting enough to sustain their own tales. These strips tend to focus on what’s going on in the protagonist’s corner of the universe instead of strictly tying into something that’s running concurrently.
In most cases, the spin-offs don’t require much, or any, prior reading. You’ll be fine if you have a basic understanding of the world they operate in.
Who’s the green guy?
That’s Tharg the Mighty, the alien editor of 2000 AD.
Similar to the hosts in horror comics, Tharg is the consistent voice for 2000 AD. He will introduce readers at the start of every prog and answer fan letters – often throwing in some of his own unique jargon. On the odd occasion, he’ll even star in his own strip.
In reality, the role of Tharg is performed by whoever is editing 2000 AD at the time.
2000 AD lingo
Thanks to Tharg, 2000 AD has built up it’s own unique lingo over the years. Most of it is used by Tharg, although some of it makes its way into marketing material too.
Here’s a brief glossary to some of the words or phrases you might come across:
Prog: This is what 2000 AD calls their issues – short for programme
Thrill-power: A measurement of quality in 2000 AD
Zarjaz: If something is zarjaz then it means it is fantastic
Earthlets: What Tharg calls humans
Borag Thungg: Tharg’s common greeting
Splundig Vur Thrigg: Tharg’s common farewell or sign-off
So, where do you start reading 2000 AD?
Now that you have a general understanding of 2000 AD, it’s time to figure out where to begin. You could jump straight into the latest prog. Although, for many, that might be a bit jarring. Luckily, there are a bunch of different options.
A few times a year, the editorial stars align and 2000 AD releases a prog where all the featured strips start a new story at once (or be self-contained). These are great places to jump on as you have five new tales to enjoy without having to figure out what happened in the last chapter.
Depending on how far you want to go back, here are the jumping-on progs from recent years that I’m aware of.
If there is demand, I can add the issues from 2014 and before.
Don’t stress if you’re not familiar with the returning strips. The inside cover (an example given above) gives you everything you need to know about the particular series.
Graphic Novels Collections
Popular and classic stories from 2000 AD have been collected into graphic novels. These are an excellent option for tracking down older stories or if you prefer to read an epic in a single sitting.
It’s worth noting that not everything gets collected. Some series are simply too short or esoteric to warrant a collection. You’ll have to track down the progs they originally appeared in if you want to read them.
Also, it can take some time before a strip is collected. This is due to being serialised in small chunks. Sometimes it can take a while before there is enough material to fill a collection.
These collections are also available digitally.
2000 AD: The Ultimate Collection
The 2000 AD: The Ultimate Collection is a partwork in collaboration with Hachette, which releases a new hardcover each fortnight. Each volume contains classic 2000 AD material, with heaps of awesome reads since 2017.
There will be 140 volumes in all. However, you could track down many of these individually and get a satisfying reading experience.
The partwork is available in the UK, Ireland, and Australia. Although, a lot of the hardcovers are available on eBay.co.uk.
There was also a Judge Dredd equivalent known as Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection.
Best of 2000 AD
Want to sample a mix of classics and modern masterpieces? Then the upcoming Best of 2000 AD is a way to go. Each 200-page collects material from the anthology’s 45-year history and is a perfect introduction to what 2000 AD has to offer. Additionally, each volume will include an essay from prominent comics journalists and pop culture writers – some of which have written for this site!
The first collection will be released in September 2022, with additional volumes released quarterly. At the moment, the plan is to have six releases.
Keep a lookout on HTLC to see future coverage of Best of 2000 AD.
How to catch up on a series
So, you’ve dipped your toes into the 2000 AD pool and found some awesome comics. Now you’re probably wondering how to catch up on your favourite series.
You can discover if your favourites have any previous tales with these excellent indexes collated by Wikipedia user Richard75.
The above indexes also show which progs each story originally appeared in. With that information, you can track down which issues you need using one of the methods listed the below section.
What is 2000 AD Regened?
2000 AD isn’t considered kid-friendly most of the time. However, starting in 2019, the anthology began releasing “Regened” progs. These are special issues full of strips made for younger readers and those young at heart. It originally started off as an experiment but has grown to quarterly occurrence thanks to its popularity.
These usually star young or kid-friendly versions of popular characters such as Judge Dredd or Johnny Alpha. On occasion, they have been known to debut original strips – some of which make their way into regular serialisation – such as Full Tilt Boogie.
The above issues have also been collected into graphic novel collections.
What is Judge Dredd Megazine?
Judge Dredd Megazine is the sister comic to 2000 AD. As the name suggests, it focuses on Judge Dredd’s universe with a Dredd strip and many spin-offs.
Beyond that, the main difference is a monthly release schedule and a larger page-count.
The Megazine also comes with a supplemental booklet. Most of the time it features reprints of material that’s either too short or esoteric for a graphic novel release but are worth reprinting. Other times, it’s a home for new material.
Where to find 2000 AD
2000 AD is easy to find once you know where to look. Take a look below at the various options at your disposal.
If you’re in the UK or Ireland, 2000 AD can easily be found at your local newsagent. If they don’t have it, politely demand that they stock it.
2000 AD might be harder to come by in newsagents outside the UK or Ireland but not impossible. I have seen it stocked in Australia before.
You will also be able to find the 2000 AD Ultimate Collection hardcovers in newsagents. A good newsagency can order whichever ones are still available at the distributor level if you don’t see them on the rack.
Comic book stores
In the UK, Ireland, and some other places, 2000 AD can be found weekly in all good comic book stores.
Everywhere else, 2000 AD is distributed through Diamond into comic book stores. However, it’s a little bit different. Instead of weekly, it comes out as a monthly pack with a month’s worth of progs all at once.
Good comic book stores will stock graphic novels too. They will also be able to do a special order for you if you’re trying to track down a particular release.
2000 AD Webshop
You can also purchase straight from the publisher at the 2000 AD Webshop. They sell the latest progs and graphic novels, as well as a wide selection of back issues, subscriptions, older graphic novel collections, and merch too.
It’s also the best place to purchase 2000 AD digitally, with digital versions of progs all the way back to 2002 and some out of print graphic novel collections.
For those who prefer to read digitally, it’s worth noting that 2000 AD is not on Comixology. (The Judge Dredd comics on Comixology is done through a licensing deal with IDW Publishing.) However, there is still a way to get your digital fix via the following options:
Purchases are available in two DRM-free formats – CBZ or PDF.
Subscribing to 2000 AD
I listed different ways to find 2000 AD in the section above, but there was one method that I didn’t mention. That’s a subscription. You can get your 2000 AD and/or Judge Dredd Megazine fix without leaving the house, with a variety of options to suit your preference.
First up, do you prefer print or digital?
If you said print, you can choose to subscribe to 2000 AD, Judge Dredd Megazine, or a combo of both. 2000 AD will be mailed out every week and the Megazine once a month.
For those who prefer digital, then you can subscribe digitally too. You can subscribe to either 2000 AD or Judge Dredd Megazine through this option. (There is no combo option like there is with print.) You can read the comics on the 2000 AD app or download DRM-free files.
An advantage of going down the digital route is that you’ll be able to access three months of back issues if you’re a new subscriber. That’s perfect for catching up on recent chapters and exploring what 2000 AD has to offer.
There are some bonuses for subscribing too. For print subscribers, there are rewards for certain levels. These change from time to time so it’s best to check out the subscription page to find out more. All subscribers have access to an exclusive audio-drama series, Future Shocks Radio.
Where to start Judge Dredd
While it could easily be its own guide*, here’s the “quick” answer.
While Dredd has been going for 45 years, most of his stories are not as continuity focused as Marvel and DC can be.
Some stories end up being pivotal for the strip, such as The Apocalypse War, and they will have stories that reference or relate to it. Other times, there will be a story that explores a particular theme. Later down the line, sometimes years later, that theme may be revisited in a quasi-sequel. An example of this is the robotic judges, which John Wagner explored in a handful of stories over 30 years.
Otherwise, most of the Judge Dredd stories are self-contained. You’ll be fine if you know the basic premise of Judge Dredd.
*Shout out in the comments if you want a Judge Dredd guide.