Is Grant Morrison’s Zenith going to return?

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by The Beat and Pádraig Ó Méalóid
At last weekend’s C2E2, the Rebellion/2000 AD crowd was out and represented by marketing man about town Michael Molcher. Snapping a pic of him and his fellow boothworkers you could not help but notice that they were wearing T-shirts bearing the logo of Zenith, which is, after Marvelman, perhaps the greatest “lost” superhero of UK comics. Created by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell, with original character designs by Brendan McCarthy , it first appeared in in 2000 AD #535 in August 1987, and ran for four story arcs, or ‘phases,’ which finished up in 2000 AD #805 in October 1992. It ran in about 80 issues of the comic; the first three phases were collected in five volumes by Titan Books between 1988 and 1990. Phase Four has never been reprinted.

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Lost Grant Morrison, you say? So what’s the hold up? Well I wrote to our expert on all thing esoteric in UK comics contracts expert Pádraig Ó Méalóid for the details. It seems this is yet another contract dispute from the olden days of “we’ll draw it up later.”

There are lots of interesting parallels between the careers of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, and although a lot of people know Moore has a long out-of-print British superhero series, it’s possible that not as many people know that Morrison also does. However, unlike Marvelman, the story of Zenith is comparatively uncomplicated. It was co-created by Grant Morrison and artist Steve Yeowell for UK comic 2000 AD in late 1987, and ran there on and off for five years, over four story arcs, or ‘phases.’ Titan Books, who regularly published collection of various strips from 2000 AD, published five collections of Zenith between 1988 and 1990, although this only covered the story to the end of Phase Three. These have never been reprinted.

The problem is this: According to Grant Morrison, he and Yeowell own the rights to the strip, not 2000 AD. The powers that be at the comic feel otherwise. 2000 AD, although it broke all sorts of new ground for comics creators in the UK in the late seventies and onwards, is still old-fashioned enough that they own all the rights to everything that they publish. However, Morrison says that they have no contract with him that proves that they own the strip. It’s possible that this is actually true: in a conversation with a friend of mine who worked as a writer for 2000 AD in the 1990s, he told me that he had created work for them without ever having seen a contract, and that this was not unusual in the business. Everyone understood where things stood, and nobody cared enough to make waves. 

However, according to unofficial Zenith website Seizing the Fire, Rebellion – the current owners of 2000 AD and their properties – have got copies of Zenith Phase One printed and ‘held unreleased in warehouse due to on-going legal issues.’ So, who knows?


Hm. Who knows indeed. One would guess that Rebellion employees wearing Zenith t-shirts for all the internet to see would be an indication that something is up. Asked about it, Molcher smiled.

So yeah, developing.

Preview: Judge Dredd, Suicide Watch

In Dredd’s long and illustrious career we’ve seen many a female Judge stepping up to the plate, from Anderson to McGruder, but the iconic British strip has never been written by a woman. Until now.

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2000 AD gets its own day and date app

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Add the UK’s 2000 AD—home of Judge Dredd—to the list of publishers going day and date. They’re even getting their own app, via the Apple Newsstand, which is offering a free introductory 69-page sampler with pages from Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos, Zombo, and Ichabod Azrael.

Subscribers get up to a 24% discount and a selection of free back issues. Single issues are $2.99/£1.99.

2000 AD was no stranger to digital—they already sell issues in DRM-free PDF and CBZ formats via their online shop.

“Making 2000 AD as accessible as possible is something we’ve been working towards for some time,” said Matt Smith, editor of 2000 AD. “For the first time we can offer easy, quick digital subscriptions so that readers can download the latest issue with a single push of a button.

“If you’ve ever had trouble getting hold of the latest 2000 AD, don’t like waiting for the physical Prog to reach your shores, or you just want the ease of having digital copies then our new app is ideal.

“With the DREDD 3D film coming in September and amazing storylines from some of the top talent in the industry, there’s never been a better time to subscribe to 2000 AD.”


 
 

2000 AD shortens digital window, plans more digital comics

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The internet is crossing international lines! Or at least it is with 2000 AD, the essential UK anthology, which will soon be available digitally only 2 days after it hits UK newsstands. Not quite day and date but better than the two weeks it takes physical copies to get to the US. Copies can be purchased at 2000 AD’s own store; subscriptions can be purchased via Clickwheel.

In addition, 2000 AD publisher Rebellion is working on their own digital comics platform for later this year.

2000 AD is proud to announce that digital editions of its comics are now available within 48 hours of them hitting newsstands in the UK.
 
In a major digital leap forward for the seminal British comic book, digital editions of 2000 AD and its sister publication, the Judge Dredd Megazine, are now available worldwide in CBZ and PDF formats in the 2000 AD store on the Friday after the print editions go on sale in the UK each Wednesday.
 
This means that for the first time, readers will be able to read both titles digitally in the week they’re published. This is a substantial shift from the current format, which only sees them go online once they are superseded on the newsstands.
 
2000 AD Prog 1776 and Judge Dredd Megazine 322 – featuring the talents of Andy Diggle, Leah Moore, John Reppion, Jock, Chris Weston, D’Israeli, John Wagner, Al Ewing, Henry Flint and many more – are the first editions to be available.
 
Readers in North America also currently have to wait two weeks to get physical copies of both UK-printed titles, while those further afield have to wait longer.
 
Editions will be available to buy from the 2000 AD store at http://shop.2000adonline.com/categories/comics, with digital subscriptions available at Clickwheel http://www.clickwheel.net
 
Computer games developer Rebellion, which owns 2000 AD, is also proud to announce that it is currently working on its own digital comics platform, due for release later this year. More details will follow in the coming weeks.
 
“This is a big leap for us,” said Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley. “We were one of the first publishers to produce digital copies of all our titles, though print editions were given priority. We felt this year, with 2000 AD’s 35th birthday and the Dredd film coming out in September, was the time to take our digital strategy forward. We’ve also got some exciting digital news coming in the next few months, so 2012 really is shaping up to be the year of 2000 AD.”