This 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.
For people who shy away from the often confusing, lore-heavy science fiction stories juggling multifaceted conflicts and plot layers, Full Tilt Boogie offers an accessible entry point for the average sci-fi fan.
Now, this statement is not issuing the all-ages series a demerit against its ingenuity by any means. Full Tilt Boogie from writer Alex de Campi, artist Eduardo Ocaña, and letterer Simon Bowland instead builds a fully-realized, layered, futuristic world with high concept ideas that do not patronize its readers, yet still provide an approachable entry point for readers of any age or background.
Genres such as science fiction and fantasy often purport similar themes and ideas which overlap one another. Said genres can alienate the average reader who may like books or films in the genres on the surface level – until they have to keep the extensive familial lineage or broad magic/technological systems straight in their head alongside a fast-paced plot. In my experience reading science fiction in both the prose and comic book realms, I have found sci-fi categorized in the Young Adult (YA) market to capture my interest more so than science fiction with heavily adult-themed sensibilities. Thus, Full Tilt Boogie, a comic marketed for a younger audience than the usual 2000 AD catalog fully engages these types of readers through both accessibility and relatability.
Therein lies the genius of 2000 AD in releasing special “Regened” progs in the first place. Before the first Reneged prog, the anthology tested the waters when they marketed their Free Comic Book Day issue as an “all-ages” event. Subsequently, 2000 AD Regened Prog 2130 hit the stands. This issue brought back some of the Free Comic Book Day characters and again deviated from the usual mature, violent nature of the anthology series. On the introductory page where 2000 AD host Tharg customarily introduces readers to the contents inside, we are instead met by his young nephew, Joko-Jargo.
Through the all-ages Regened initiative, 2000 AD spearheaded a movement. Adults who were already regular readers of the comic anthology could now share their love for 2000 AD with their kids, siblings, or any younger reader by handing them a family-friendly copy of Prog 2130. An entirely new generation of readers could now delight in reading the sci-fi exploits of the comic series aimed at their age group. Full Tilt Boogie first debuted as a special one-off that prog. As a result, the strip received such positive feedback, that it received a regular serialization in 2000 AD Progs 2185-2194.
Full Tilt Boogie found its strips collected as a graphic novel and hit shelves in May 2021. Those who relished in the story’s installments were treated to a breezy readthrough in graphic novel format. The comic moves quickly, never losing focus on the story it’s telling. Therefore, the collected edition works in its favor by granting readers a reading experience that helps the comics’ pacing without breaking up the action. Of course, the intense cliffhanger endings in the magazine progs are what keep readers coming back and buying 2000 AD issues. But in a comic such as Full Tilt Boogie, where every installment never satiates the reader to conclusive satisfaction, it comes as a blessing to read as a self-contained first volume.
Full Tilt Boogie follows teenager Tee, her ramen-loving grandmother, and their pet cat named “Cat” who seems to exhibit odd traits such as possibly containing an otherdimensional portal in its belly. The trio travel along on a spaceship as Tee chases bounties with good paydays (although she is usually unsuccessful in her ventures). One day, Tee accepts a bounty from the “number one biggest fan!” of the Luxine Empire’s self-absorbed Prince Ifan to rescue him from Debtor’s Prison. Once aboard the ship, Tee immediately altercates with Ifan and his complaining, narcissistic personality. However, Tee doesn’t realize she has a much more pertinent issue at hand besides the prince’s annoying whining. Whilst retrieving Ifan for the bounty, she accidentally awakens a two-thousand-year-old enemy warrior of the Luxine Empire and finds herself the most wanted person in the galaxy.
Of course, the comics’ central conflict lies in the grand idea of an entire empire seeking to destroy an adolescent and her grandmother aboard a tricked-out spacecraft dubbed Full Tilt Boogie. The serial draws comparisons to anime such as Cowboy Bebop in its heightened characterizations in the thick of an intergalactic crisis. Yet, amidst this propulsive space opera thrumming with action, drama, and a potent dose of suspense, Full Tilt Boogie centers its focus on the young characters.
The comic juxtaposes the enormous scale of a sci-fi epic with a meticulous inspection of its subjects through both the narrative and importantly, the artistry. Illustrator Eduardo Ocaña constructs his images by relying on simplicity. Space landscapes and advanced technological pieces are sensationally rendered with modest linework atop what looks like watercolor-ridged paper. Finer details are proffered to the characters. Ocaña draws impressive mecha-reminiscent attire and hones the shadows and lines on faces to render modulating emotional states with nuance. In Full Tilt Boogie, Ocaña’s drawings showcase the balanced throughline within accessible science fiction works.
Although set in a distant future, Full Tilt Boogie’s main protagonist Tee resonates because her attitude coincides with the teenage experience from any era. Tee wants a cool job. She wants to make money. She wants to make more money. Tee doesn’t necessarily listen to the advice of her endearing grandmother – or anyone else, for that matter – because, like most teenagers, she thinks she knows what she’s doing.
Prince Ifan and his sister Nix grew up surrounded by wealth and luxury. The two were given unlimited power at the cost of surrendering personal control to those in authority over them. Despite the drastically divergent socioeconomic divisions between Tee and the royal siblings, Full Tilt Boogie characterizes the teenagers as sharing common traits; like the desire for independence.
In these characters, readers identify with their inherent, burning need to showcase independent reliance over their lives. Teenagers desperately cling to any wayward string to lead them in the direction where they can discover who they are as self-sufficient individuals.
Full Tilt Boogie presents a touching story about humanity. Within its pages, readers can jump into the comic blindly and emerge satisfied with the accessible yet profound themes about life, adolescence, and mankind captured within its short run. It’s a lushly illustrated sci-fi space opera, elevated by a narrative foundation built upon conveying the universal emotions we all experience as humans in any walk of life.