Starting in September 2022, Rebellion have been releasing Best of 2000 AD – a self-described ‘mix tape’ of choice cuts from over four decades of Britain’s longest running scifi anthology comic. Bringing glimpses at the wealth of great stories, creators, and characters (including that Judge Dredd guy) that have called the “Galaxy’s Greatest Comic” their home every week since 1977. As the Best of 2000 AD fires its sixth and final hotshot in the chamber, we check back in with series editor Owen Johnson as he reflects on end points, surprises, learning curves, and plans for the future.

Best of 2000 AD
Six volumes of Thrill Power – the Best of 2000 AD!

Dean Simons: You’re calling it a day at six books. Why end there?

Owen Johnson: It was always intended as 6 books; a finite window into the universe of 2000 AD. That readers could extend that by moving across to our other titles if they chose to, but it was always a prestige project meant as a satisfying handful of books. One look at the market reveals it’s glutted with product: there’s so much competition for attention and stores only have so much shelf space. We felt that brevity, restraint and canny curation were the key, and this really helped focus the project in my opinion.

As a consumer, I love being told up front that something has an end and that I won’t be on the hook indefinitely until my patience or bank account runs dry. Creatively/editorially it’s a wonderful thing to complete, to stand back from, to assess what’s been learned and move onto the next thing.

This was built primarily for the casual or first-time reader. If you’re a reader desperate for long-running 2000 AD series, you can now go straight to the weekly 2000 AD flagship, find it in the Judge Dredd Case Files (or the Hachette Partworks in the UK), or through many of the backlist titles Rebellion has published.

DS: Did you anticipate the success of the series? Why do you think it did so well?

OJ: It’s gratifying to discover there can be love for these stories beyond the readers that have always embraced them.

A lot of Best of 2000 AD was just thinking through and positioning reprint material in a way that captures a different type of reader. Everything came back to that. What if you only had a couple of books to convert people – how do you make it count?

Curate with an honest question of ‘Do you need to have prior knowledge of this to enjoy it?’, make it look attractive and modern (and market-relevant thanks to designer Tom Muller and the amazing contemporary cover artists), and give people true value for money. It’s a great feeling to know you’re getting multiple graphic novel sized stories for twenty-two dollars and change.

Personally, I’m immensely proud of the critical essays and grateful to contributors Adam Karenina Sherif, Tom Shapira, Tiffany Babb, Chloe Maveal, Kambole Campbell and Ritesh Babu for their insights. That inclusion of such a range of voices and their perspectives talking in-depth about 2000 AD was crucial. It’s a big part of the success for me, to illustrate [that] the work of these writers and artists is still vital to our culture.

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Horror aplenty in Cradlegrave, by John Smith & Edmund Bagwell

DS: Was the success universal? How did it do in the US and UK?

OJ: It has seemed universal in being recognized as a shot in the arm for bringing more attention towards the great comics Rebellion is making. It’s outperformed our expectations in the US for sure, but that was the hope so that’s a thrill. Initially, it just edged the UK in terms of sale but recently that’s changed.

It will be really interesting to get out on the road at conventions and events once the 6th volume is wrapped to read the room and reaction to it as we move further into promoting it as part of our core backlist.

DS: Has the success fed back into the wider graphic novel line, as well as new readers and subscribers of 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine?

OJ: I know there’s been very little cross-over between our core 2000 AD long-term readers and the Best of 2000 AD readership who are primarily broader in their tastes and read global comics omnivorously. This could be for a number of reasons, not least much of the material they may own in the format that is cherished to them already. Those historic fans who enjoy it seem to treat it as the Greatest Hits celebration we hoped they would.

Attention and growth on 2000 AD in the Direct Market has definitely increased, but that’s a mixture of factors (being involved in ComicsPro, more high-profile Rebellion releases and lines like the Essentials). It’s certainly contributed to new readers both in the direct market and the book trade coming to 2000 AD for the first time.

We’re seeing books that were trailed in Best of 2000 AD like Halo Jones, Judge Anderson: Shamballa and Nemesis The Warlock released as tent-pole ‘definitive’ or omnibus editions. So far those are performing well on their own merits. I hope Best of 2000 AD is partially responsible for bringing orders to those books. High tide raises all the boats.

DS: What was the biggest surprise?

OJ: Being a quarterly graphic novel series on the commercial end, we thought the growth would be in the book trade and online outlets. It’s gone down well there but I’ve been surprised that the back-bone of our support still comes from indies and the direct market. Our support has always been driven by word of mouth, hand-selling and the passion of informed comic store workers. We are in their debt.

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Space revenge at the hands of the mysterious ‘Shakara’, by Robbie Morrison & Henry Flint

DS: What lessons did you learn putting together the series?

OJ: How hard the editors at Rebellion work. It’s not easy, and requires such an eye for detail. I gained so much respect for them and what they do. In a more general sense I think we learned we can be bold and make big swings in a market that isn’t our home one [in the UK], we just have to be willing to ask questions and trust yourselves, comic stores, and readers that you can connect.

DS: What was the most challenging aspect?

OJ: The endless Tetris of paginating the stories, choosing what to put in and leave out, and in what order. You may want to include really off-the-beaten-track stuff to show the range, but for a mass audience you have to balance that.

The last volume was originally going to be entirely Cursed Earth [the radioactive wasteland outside the Judge-ruled Mega Cities] themed with Chopper and a crossover with Strontium Dog (and with the Anand Radhakrishnan cover) but it stuck out as too tightly-focused. The other volumes have distinct personalities without being so literal. So we re-worked that to make it an insane victory lap.

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Time Twister by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons, showing off the sepia tint used for retro reprints

DS: The sepia tint of the retro reprints was inspired. Where did you get the idea? Was it easy to get the OK? Did readers dig it?

OJ: Thanks! Most I’ve spoken to seem to consider it a cute touch. It was that small act of giving something slightly different to set apart from other editions of the work people may own. Just a new flavour. It was a full colour book primarily, so when re-printing originally black and white work that can be jarring to go back and forth. Aesthetically it bakes in that retro angle which is a draw for certain fans who want to conjure that vintage experience without dropping on costly back-issues. If only we could have made them smell of a long-box!

This minor production tweak subliminally tells you it’s archive material you’re entering, without breaking focus, or changing the paper-stock which in an ideal world would be toothier for that material. That adds a huge production cost, so it’s all about balancing what feels organic with what’s affordable (and keeps the price point reasonable).

DS: What was your favourite thing that you included and what did you wish you could have added?

OJ: There are always creators you want to include more of. It would have been great to include some Simon Davis but Thistlebone [series 3] is roaring out in the Prog and solo collections [series 1 and series 2] currently. Didn’t want to step on those toes. I would have loved to have included The Last American – by John Wagner, Alan Grant & Mick McMahon -but there were contractual issues there. No Slaine because we had the anniversary book coming down the pipe. No Rogue Trooper because that publishing plan is supporting the movie. For every story that didn’t make it there was a good reason why. I found quickly all are at the mercy of curatorial bias, and you can’t please everyone.

Don’t mess with this polar bear! Shako, by writers Pat Mills & John Wagner, artists Ramon Sola & Juan Arancio

DS: What next? Any new Best Of… projects to come?

Nothing specifically in the Best Of line as discussed above – but we’re talking about a nice final flourish like a collector’s slipcase for those out there who loved what we cooked but want to eat it in one.

I’ve personally enjoyed hanging up the editor gloves and returning to preaching about all the other editor’s amazing projects we have coming. It’s been such a blast though.
Now that the series is complete we can see if it truly ages well as a perennial starting gun which represents the comic well in the future. It’s crucial that it helps in that ongoing mission. The canon is always changing! It’s impossible to sit back and wait for more, we’ve got to be pro-active. It’s always about raising awareness of 2000 AD as a British institution that is relevant and has real cultural value globally.

The 2000 AD webshop carried it’s own exclusive cover variants

Best of 2000 AD volume 6 hits comic shops and bookstores on June 5. Exclusive editions can also be found on the 2000 AD webshop.


  1. 2000AD really is one of the best comics out there. The sheer number of different ideas in a single issue is pretty impressive and the anthology format with 5 or 6 page chapters means that every story needs to progress so there’s no filler.

    As a US fan, I wish that 1) the full catalog of their collections were more easily accessible here and 2) they would reprint more than Halo Jones and Slain-era stories all of the time (like Hewligan’s Haircut or a Sinister Dexter Omnibus or generally anything that would make “catching up” easier for new readers). But I guess both are a result of the curse of “supply and demand”.

    I sincerely hope that the Best of 2000AD sparks interest in the current offerings. People are missing out on some truly great content.

    And a special shout-out to Rebellion’s Treasury of British Comics line. They’re all great, pulpy fun.

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