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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Mighty One: My Life Inside The Nerve Centre

The Mighty One: My Life Inside The Nerve Centre
by Steve MacManus

Despite its title, the memoir actually begins some years before the launch of 2000 AD. We are in 1973 and the British comics scene is much as it has been for the past decade. The sun-filled, glory days of Valiant and Lion and Tiger are yet to be eclipsed by the thrill-powered imaginations of Messrs Mills, Wagner and Finley-Day.

In fact the book begins with me standing in the offices of Valiant, hoping to be hired in the role of sub-editor. It is from here that my journey through the industry begins, taking in Battle, then Action, then Starlord, before arriving slightly out of breath in the 2000 AD Nerve Centre in 1978. This is where I remain for the next eight years and it is these recollections that provide the meat of the memoir.

As an inside story the memoir is filled with colourful characters, namely the freelance contributors and editorial staffers who collaborate in the creation of the industry’s fictional comic heroes. These are Halcyon days.

Come 1986 however, seismic events have shaken the industry to its core and I experience a personal crisis of my own. At this juncture, the book lurches into what I hope is a hilarious detour as I take a Busman’s holiday in the USA.

Returning to the UK the memoir charts my plan to build a range of titles to entertain the older readers of 2000 AD, and from this comes the tale of the creation of the trio of tiles called Crisis, Revolver, and Judge Dredd the Megazine.

The journey ends however with the slow realisation that the licensed title model is making more and more sense to publishers in the industry. The arrival of desktop publishing programmes for the Macintosh in the early 1990s has greatly simplified the business of blending text and image to manufacture editorial pages, enabling all the content (now mainly feature pages) to be created in-house with no burdensome budget for pesky freelancers. 

Quite why it took thirty years for me to put pen to paper I honestly don’t know. Oddly, the idea had occurred to me in 1987, and I even pitched it to Titan at the time. Had that proposal been accepted you wouldn’t be reading these words now. But instead it was suggested that I try and put something together with Neil Gaiman who was keen to write his own book about Alan Moore. Although Neil and I met, nothing came of our discussions. Such is life.

In summary, I hope the memoir will be a fun read, not just for avid comics fans but also for the curious outsider, keen to understand what it is about this industry that breeds such passion, angst and extraordinary creativity amongst its fellows and followers.

The Mighty One: My Life Inside The Nerve Centre is published by Rebellion on 8th September. (299 pages). Pre-order direct from the publisher at 2000ADonline.com – hardcover / softcover.

1 comment:

Kid said...

In the unlikely event that I get a mention, I hope Steve's been kind about me. I remember his trip to the USA - he sent me a postcard (which I've still got) saying that there were lots of 'spare-changers' in the States. (A reference to my bearded, rather unkempt self at the time.) Should prove an interesting read.