Friday, 28 September 2012

1977: THE FIRST 2000AD ANNUAL (IPC/ Fleetway)


This - believe it or not - is Dan Dare, as visualised by Gerry Woods.  Confusingly, he looked nothing like either the classic Frank Hampson original or Tharg The Mighty's flawed reinterpretation.  

This is the first 2000AD ANNUAL, published in September 1977 (mere months after Tharg launched his stellar new weekly in February '77) for the Christmas market.  As is the industry convention, the date on the cover is for the following year.

Because of the inevitable publishing lead-times and deadlines, work must have begun on this hefty 128-page spin-off much earlier in the year (or even late 1976), just when the weekly was just hitting newsagents for the first time.  That said, most of the early prog-stars are present: Judge Dredd, Tharg's Future Shocks, Flesh, the Harlem Heroes, Invasion, M.A.C.H 1 and - of course - the pilot of the future himself.  

The 2000AD ANNUAL appeared every year until the 1991 edition, published in 1990.  From the following year (cover-dated 1992) it morphed into the soft-cover 2000AD YEARBOOK.  Four more volumes followed, the last published in September 1994.

The first (of two) 2000AD-era DAN DARE ANNUALS appeared in 1978 (cover-dated 1979) with the second released the following year.

Dare lost his place in Fleetway's publishing schedule to JUDGE DREDD in 1980 (cover-dated 1981).  The Lawman's book appeared alongside the main 2000AD Annual for 11 editions, also bowing-out in 1990 (with a 1991 cover-date).  Four further softcover Yearbooks appeared through the early 1990s.

The 2000AD/ Judge Dredd annuals/ yearbooks were cancelled after the 1994 editions, ironically the year before Fleetway believed the Judge Dredd movie would unleash a torrent of merchandising.  The end of an era.

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