My diary entry for this date briefly laments the fact that I was no longer buying my favourite childhood comic, 2000 AD. I distinctly remember the excitement of the very first edition on the same date in 1977 (which was why I was writing about it). It had a free mini-frisbee taped to the cover and promised space-age dinosaurs, an all-new Dan Dare, and a kind of bionic man called M.A.C.H-1. Interestingly, there was no mention of the comic’s most famous and long-lasting son, Judge Dredd, who didn’t appear until issue two, and even then didn’t make the cover.
2000 AD tapped perfectly into the 70’s feeling that the end of the century was one of those watershed moments before which anything was possible and at which everything would have changed. Knowing it was coming was like having your own personal and predictable singularity, constantly on the horizon.
Everyone used to work out how old they’d be in the year 2000, and wondered about things like whether they’d be married and have children, or what job they might be doing. Anything and everything seemed possible. In the end – married and with two children at the time – I spent New Year’s Eve 1999 rather mundanely at work, watching the office survive the much-hyped Millennium Bug.
The year 2000 gave everyone a kind of collective and optimistic milestone (the Millennium Bug aside) – something we were building towards together and which we shared. Now it’s done and dusted, the emphasis has moved quietly back to individual, cultural, sporting or national milestones. Perhaps the lack of a year 2000 equivalent accounted for at least a little of last year’s buzz about the end of the world supposedly predicted by the Mayan Calendar on 21-12-12.
Meanwhile – and rather wonderfully and reassuringly – 2000 AD comic is still called 2000 AD, having managed to come to stand for an entire millennium rather than a single year.
And perhaps without even acknowledging it, the rest of the world has made exactly the same shift.