1981 (Progs: 193-244):
February (Prog 200): The 200th issue sees the launch of the epic Johnny Alpha origins story, Portrait of a Mutant in Strontium Dog (Grant/Ezquerra).
April (Prog 206): Dredd story Un-American Graffiti (Wagner/Ron Smith, Brett Ewins). First appearance of Marlon Shakespeare aka. Chopper.
June (Prog 216): Writer Peter Milligan debuts in the comic.
(Prog 217): Alan Moore and John Higgins’ famous Tharg’s Futureshock: The Last Rumble of the Platinum Horde! A rare instance of a Futureshock getting a cover (Cover art: Mike McMahon).
July (Prog 222): A major arrival: Nemesis the Warlock Book One begins (Mills/O’Neill). Two mini-stories appeared in 1980.
August (Prog 224): The Dark Judges arrive in Judge Death Lives! (Wagner and Grant/Bolland).
2000AD rises to 16p. It is now twice as much as it was when it started in 1977. This is not an unusual rate of increase for the time, however. Besides:, by 1981, the comic is undoubtedly enjoying a golden age.
A new Judge Dredd comic strip begins in the Daily Star newspaper this month, initially produced by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Ron Smith. It continues until 1998.
September (Prog 228): Rogue Trooper goes into battle for the first time (Finley-Day/Dave Gibbons). It becomes Gerry Finley-Day’s biggest hit and one of 2000AD’s most popular stories.
October (Prog 232): Ace Trucking Co. begins trading! It is one of the zaniest stories ever to appear in the comic. (Wagner and Grant/Belardinelli).
Other stories this year include: The Mean Arena, Meltdown Man (which ends in August after an unusually long fifty-issue run) and Return to Armageddon.
(Prog 236): Blockmania erupts in Judge Dredd! (Wagner and Grant/Boland, McMahon). This story leads directly into the Apocalypse War mega-epic which launches at the start of 1982.
January: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV series begins.
March: Tom Baker’s last outing as Doctor Who.
July: Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi fantasy classic, Time Bandits is released in UK cinemas. So is Clash of the Titans.
September: John Carpenter’s Escape From New York.
December: Blake’s Seven ends.
Chris Hallam is a freelance writer. Originally from Peterborough, he now lives in Exeter with his wife. He writes for a number of magazines including Yours Retro, Best of British and Comic Scene – in which he wrote about Judge Death, The Ballad of Halo Jones, Dan Dare, The Eagle and Alan Moore’s Watchmen (amongst other things). He co-wrote the book, Secret Exeter (with Tim Isaac) and wrote A-Z of Exeter – People, Places, History. He was also wrote the 2014 annuals for The Smurfs, Furbys and Star Wars Clone Wars annuals as well as the 2015 Transformers annual.