When you have an extensive universe like 2000 AD it’s intimidating. After being on the lookout for the right opening, The 2000 AD Script Book proves capable, both as a crash course into the comic-making process and everything ‘galaxy’s greatest.’
First, the sampler aspect. The volume contains sixteen issues from some of the publisher’s biggest ranges, including frontliner, Judge Dredd, and personally unfamiliar territory like Lobster Random. Many of the issues in the beginning mark the start of fresh arcs, catering to new readers. There’s not a weak chapter in the bunch but it’s fun to find out which characters appeal most. Some of the answers are surprising, which is why collections like these are so important. A partialness for Slàine (where you get to observe a map being designed) was predictable but there’s no way outside of this book that I would’ve picked up a copy of Low Life or Zombo on my own.
After becoming comfortable with openers, some middle issues get thrown into the mix—Episode 5 of 14s, 7 of 8s, etc. Narrative confusion can be an asset in achieving the Script Book’s larger goal of making the focus about the art and how scripts are written for a visual medium. Seeing what chaos looks like in Leigh Gallagher’s art for Aquila, for instance, is very different from reading Gordon Rennie’s descriptions, which intentionally leave room for creative violence.
The pages of the book flip back and forth between script and final images, to encourage comparison. Essentially, you get to treat comics like books, where you imagine what things look like in your head first before getting to see each artist’s interpretation. No approach is placed above another or proven to lead to better results. Some writers dictate the layout of panels while others leave it up to the artist. Some address the artist by name, conversing in a way that promotes collaboration by not settling on a choice but throwing out different options. Others are detailed and specific, making references to real places and pop culture to get across an idea or vision.
No typos in the scripts are edited out. It feels reassuring to know that professionals aren’t immune to errors that, speaking from experience, turn into fixations when made by one’s self. A little running commentary could’ve been useful, as a bridge between the raw and published material. What’s really spectacular about The 2000 AD Script Book is it takes you behind the curtain without removing your sense of awe at how these comics are completed. Every choice matters and if you wanted to convince someone of the benefits of teamwork, this is where comics excel.