1986 (Prog 451 – 502)
January (Prog 451): The year begins with the third and what turns out to be the final book of The Ballad of Halo Jones (Moore/Gibson). It is probably the most acclaimed story ever to appear in the comic.
February (Prog 457): Chief Judge McGruder is replaced by Chief Judge Silver in Judge Dredd. Other stories include Ace Trucking Co., Slaine and Strontium Dog at this time. Slaine currently takes the form of an RPG adventure, a format soon to be attempted again in the short-lived Diceman spin-off comic (see below).
March (Prog 463): 2000AD rises from 24p to 26p.
April (Prog 465): Wulf Sternhammer dies in Strontium Dog (Grant/Ezquerra).
(Prog 466): Halo Jones ends. Seven more books were planned. In fact, the story never returns.
May (Prog 468): Anderson PSI (Grant/Ewins) returns in the 9th birthday issue along with new strips, Bad City Blue (Grant/Robin Smith) and the offbeat time travel strip, Sooner or Later (Peter Milligan/Brendan McCarthy).
July (Prog 477): Judge Dredd: The Art of Kenny Who? (Wagner/Grant/Kennedy).
August (Prog 483). Metalzoic (Mills/O’Neill) originally a DC strip begins. Nemesis (Mills/Bryan Talbot) is also appearing at this point.
November (Prog 498): Ten ten, never again! Ace Trucking Co. comes to an end.
December: A special glossy cover for Prog 500! Major new future war strip, Bad Company begins (Milligan/McCarthy) as does Slaine The King (Mills/Glenn Fabry). However, Alan Moore is offended by 2000AD’s decision to use characters he created without his permission for this issue. He never writes for the comic again.
British indie rock band, Mega City Four (whose name was inspired by Judge Dredd) are formed around this time.
January: Controversial science fiction author, L. Ron Hubbard dies.
February: Diceman, a new bi-monthly magazine aiming to capitalise on the RPG craze begins. Edited by a monster called Mervyn (it is in fact edited by Simon Geller), it is a spin-off of 2000AD, with most of the stories written by Pat Mills. Aside from a new character Diceman and a one-off satire, You Are Ronald Reagan: Twilight’s Last Gleaming, all the stories are RPG versions of 2000AD stories: Judge Dredd, Nemesis the Warlock, Sláine, Rogue Trooper, Torquemada and ABC Warriors. Sadly, it does not find an audience and fails after five issues.
August: James Cameron’s Aliens is released.
September: DC begins serialising Watchmen (Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons). Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Rises also appears this year.
Kids’ sci-fi film, Flight of the Navigator is released in the UK. Short Circuit is released in December as is Transformers: The Movie.
Chris Hallam is a freelance writer. Originally from Peterborough, he now lives in Exeter with his wife. He writes for a number of magazines and websites including The Companion, Yours Retro, Best of British and Comic Scene – in which he wrote about Judge Death, The Ballad of Halo Jones, Dan Dare, The Eagle, Metalzoic and Alan Moore’s Watchmen. In the past, he wrote for Metro.co.uk, Radio Times, DVD Monthly and Geeky Monkey. He co-wrote the book, Secret Exeter (with Tim Isaac) and wrote A-Z of Exeter – People, Places, History. He also provided all the written content for the 2014 annuals for The Smurfs, Furbys and Star Wars Clone Wars as well as for sections of the 2014 South Park annual and all the 2015 Transformers annual.