I like to claim I've been a squaxx dex thargo for life, but it's not strictly true. 2000ad launched a couple of years after I was born, and the comic was three years into it before I first got caught in its grasp.
I'm still there every month - I just got the latest issue off the shelves yesterday, and it had the last episode of the latest Brink and it's as good as anything else ever published in the galaxy's greatest comic.
But coming in slightly late meant that when I fell hard for it at the absolutely appropriate age of six, there was no way of getting those older issues from the first 300 progs. There were a precious few of the old Titan collections floating around, and the only one I ever saw in my part of the world was incredibly expensive, so I had to make do with the few progs I could find at the local school fair.
But then Tharg, in his mighty wisdom, started publishing The Best of 2000ad Monthly, and that was all I needed in the world. Each issue had an outstanding amount of thrill power in its 64 pages. Prime art from Brian Bolland and Ron Smith and Kevin O'Neill, in just the very best stories from the galaxy's greatest comic.
That's where I first read Portrait of a Mutant for the first time, and where I could read all of the Nemesis. Although while there was plenty of Dredd, the mega-epics were never reprinted in the early issues of the monthly, with the American reprints from Eagle the only way to tap into that kind of mega-history.
It just seemed normal to get that kind of brilliance in such a chunk, every month. Looking back, I just did not realise how lucky I was. The best comics you'll ever read in your life are when you're 10-years-old, and you can only wonder at your good fortune when those comics also happen to be some of the actual best in the world.
2000ad is still out there, trying to snag new readers with snippets of its increasingly large pool of wonderful stories, and I hope the new version of the Best of 2000ad, with beautiful new covers and some terrific curation, finds a new audience. But they'll have to go a long way to pack as much pure thrill-power as the monthly series once did.
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