1979 (Progs 94 – 145)
February: The 100th prog! The second part of Sam Slade’s classic Verdus adventure (Wagner/Gibson) now continues in 2000AD, the saga having been briefly interrupted by the Star Lord merger.
March: A new comic, Tornado sweeps into town. Ostensibly edited by a mysterious figure called ‘The Big E,’ 2000AD’s Kelvin Gosnell is also thought to be involved. Stories include Blackhawk (Gerry Finley-Day/Alfonso Azpiri) and The Mind of Wolfie Smith (Tom Tully) which had no connection to the character played by Robert Lindsay, also called Wolfie Smith appearing in BBC sitcom, Citizen Smith at this time.
April (Prog 109): A rare Dredd-free issue of 2000AD. He has just finished his long saga battling Judge Cal in The Day The Law Died. John Wagner has now become pretty much the permanent wrier on Dredd.
June (Prog 115): Ro-Busters ends. But fear not…(Prog 119): Hammerstein returns in The ABC Warriors (Mills/O’Neill)! Ro-Jaws does not appear, although remains a frequent guest star in the comic.
Bill Savage, star of Invasion! also returns in Disaster 1990 (Finley-Day/Carlos Pino). Although he now faces a catastrophic flood in Invasion! he previously battled the Volgan Empire: now the ABC Warriors’ enemy on Mars.
2000AD gets a new logo. The ‘Starlord’ bit is dropped from the title and it becomes just 2000AD again. At least, for a short while…
July (Prog 122): The cover price rises from 10p to 12p.
August (Prog 126): Once 2000AD’s lead story, Dan Dare ends on a cliff-hanger. It never returns to the comic.
(Prog 127): Tornado merges into 2000AD. Blackhawk, The Mind of Wolfie Smith and Captain Klep all move into 2000AD. As Tornado was not primarily a sci-fi comic, their storylines are all altered slightly to strengthen their sci-fi credentials. None last beyond September 1980, when Wolfie Smith ends and 2000AD and Tornado becomes just 2000AD again.
No other comics have merged into 2000AD in the forty-plus years since. This is in itself an achievement: well over 20 UK comics merged into each other in the 1980s alone.
November (Prog 140): Gerry Finley-Day’s new future war story, The VCs comes into land.
In an unusual but successful move, a new adaptation of US sci-fi author Harry Harrison’s light-hearted future crime novel, The Stainless Steel Rat begins (Gosnell/Ezquerra).
Stainless Steel Rat writer Kelvin Gosnell incidentally ceases to be 2000AD’s editor this year incidentally and is replaced by Steve MacManus. Other stories this year include: Flesh, Project Overkill and Angel.
The second and last 2000AD-related Dan Dare annual is released, dated 1980. Two later Dan Dare annuals appeared, dated 1987 and 1991 too, but both were linked to the revived Eagle comic (which started in 1982), not to 2000AD.
April: DC Thomson’s monthly sci-fi anthology, Starblazer begins. It lasts until 1991.
June: The space-themed James Bond film, Moonraker comes out.
September: Ridley’s Scott’s Alien opens in UK cinemas.
October: Douglas Adams’ book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is published. In the same month, a Tom Baker-era episode of Doctor Who scripted by Adams, achieves the highest ratings ever achieved by a Doctor Who episode before or since (16.1 million) partly due to a strike taking out ITV. Doctor Who Weekly also begins this month.
December: Star Trek: The Motion Picture is released. Disney’s The Black Hole comes out in the UK. It proves a massive flop at the box office.
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 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.