Tharg the Mighty
Tharg, from 2000 AD #1700
Publication information
PublisherOriginally IPC Media (Fleetway) until 1999, thereafter Rebellion Developments
First appearance2000 AD #1 (26 February 1977)
Created byPat Mills
In-story information
Place of originQuaxxann
Notable aliasesThe Mighty One, TMO
AbilitiesRigellian hotshot

Tharg the Mighty or The Mighty One is the fictional editor of the British science fiction comic 2000 AD. The character was introduced on the cover of the first issue in 1977 and is one of only two characters to appear in almost every issue of the comic, the other being Judge Dredd. Tharg rarely appears in stories but strips involving him have been written by such notable writers as Alan Grant, Alan Moore and John Wagner, albeit usually credited to "TMO" – "The Mighty One".

Characterisation

Tharg is depicted as an alien from Quaxxann, a fictional planet that orbits the star Betelgeuse.[1] The character has green skin, a white mohawk hairstyle and a red device called the rosette of Sirius on his forehead. He is written and performed for comic effect as an authoritarian egoist.[2] He eats polystyrene cups.[3]

Tharg writes the comic's introduction, answers letters, and doles out prizes to readers (for artwork or story suggestions) - winners could choose payment either in pounds sterling or in "galactic groats". Tharg speaks mostly in English, but with various pithy Betelgusian aphorisms thrown in for colour.

In addition to the editorial duties in 2000 AD being attributed to Tharg, all writing, art, lettering, sub-editing and PR is attributed to malcontent, feckless and long-suffering droids that appear as caricatures of their actual counterparts.[4]

In one episode, a Tharg suit in the comic's office was explained as a skin that Tharg had shed.

Creation and concept

The concept of using a fictional character to host the comic is comparable to the tradition of hosts in horror comics. It was commonplace in British comics in the 1970s when 2000 AD began publication.[5] For example, Warlord was supposedly edited by Lord Peter Flint and Bullet by a character named Fireball.[2] 2000 AD's short-lived sister title Starlord used a similar device with the eponymous alien Starlord as did Tornado with Big E.[6][7]

Pat Mills created Tharg but since regrets it, in 2015 describing him as an anachronism.[5] In 1996 David Bishop was determined to get rid of Tharg and challenge the status quo, so replaced him as host in #1014 with the Vector 13 Men in Black. Reader reaction was "strong and vitriolic" and Tharg was reinstated in #1032.[8] Bishop came to realise that Tharg is an intrinsic part of 2000 AD and that the Men in Black were "a tiresome encumbrance".[5][8] Tharg's return and the ousting of the Men in Black was covered in the Vector 13 story "Case Ten: Case Closed?"

2000 AD editors

The role of Tharg has been performed by the following editors:

  1. Pat Mills, #1–16 (1977)[9]
  2. Kelvin Gosnell, #17–85 (1977–1978)[10]
    Assistant editor Nick Landau largely edited the comic himself in 1978 while Gosnell was occupied with editing new sister title Starlord.[11]
  3. Steve MacManus, #86–519[12] or #500[13] (1978–1987)
  4. Richard Burton, #520–872[14] or #501–872[13] (1987–1994)
  5. Alan McKenzie, #873–914 (1994)[15]
  6. John Tomlinson, #915–977 (1994–1996)[16]
  7. David Bishop, #978–1199 (1996–2000)[17]
  8. Andy Diggle, #1200–1273 (2000–2002)[18]
  9. Matt Smith, #1274–present (2002–present)[19]

Comic strips

2000 AD regularly features self-contained, science-fiction short stories called Tharg's Future Shocks. Tharg is generally characterised as the host or presenter of these one-shots.[20] The format also sub-divides into genre-specific variants including: Tharg's 3rillers, Tharg's Alien Invasions, Tharg's Dragon Tales, and Tharg's Terror Tales.

On occasion 2000 AD includes short humorous strips that feature Tharg as a character. The plots often concern Tharg's conflict with Thrillsuckers, a plague of psychic pests that attempt to steal 2000 AD's Thrillpower, his abuse of his droid staff, and his battles against The Dictators of Zrag, rulers of the dull cube-shaped planet Zrag.[2] This trio of incompetent alien warlords hope to usurp Tharg's position and use the comic's powers to revitalise their planet.[21] Tharg uses the Dictators as convenient scapegoats whom he can blame for printing errors and plot holes.

Publication history

Catchphrases and jargon

Tharg occasionally uses words and phrases from a fictional language. This slang has become part of the vocabulary of 2000 AD fan culture, particularly in fan interactions with Tharg.[22] The following is a short list, with approximate translations:[23][24]

References

  1. ^ "Tharg Factoids [column]" 2000 AD #1033 (March 1997), London: Originally IPC Media (Fleetway) until 1999, thereafter Rebellion Developments
  2. ^ a b c Kardwell, Mark (13 December 2013). "Tharg the Mighty on his return to comics in '2000AD' Prog 2014". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  3. ^ MIB (w), S.B. Davis (a). "Vector 13 - Case Ten: Case Closed?" 2000 AD 1032 (March 4, 1997), London, UK: Fleetway Publications Ltd.
  4. ^ Parkin, Lance. "Script Robot Alan Moore". Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore. London: Aurum Press Ltd. p. 105. ISBN 9781781310779.
  5. ^ a b c Goodwin, Paul (Director) (2015). Future Shock! The Story of 2000 AD (DVD). England: Metrodome.
  6. ^ "A Brief History of Starlord". Starlord Blueprint. Archived from the original on 18 August 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  7. ^ Best, Daniel (12 August 2010). "How To Beat People Up The Dave Gibbons Way". 20th Century Danny Boy. Retrieved 11 May 2016.
  8. ^ a b Bishop, David. "28 Days of 2000 AD #15.1: Dark Bish-OP Pt. 2". Vicious Imagery. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  9. ^ Pat Mills at 2000ad.org
  10. ^ Kelvin Gosnell at 2000ad.org
  11. ^ "A brief history of Starlord" from "Watch the stars!" website "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 2016-05-10.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Steve MacManus at 2000ad.org
  13. ^ a b MacManus, S. (2016) The Mighty One: My Life Inside the Nerve Centre, Oxford: Rebellion, pp. 228, 231
  14. ^ Richard Burton at 2000ad.org
  15. ^ Alan McKenzie at 2000ad.org
  16. ^ John Tomlinson at 2000ad.org
  17. ^ David Bishop (writer)| at 2000ad.org
  18. ^ Andy Diggle at 2000ad.org
  19. ^ Matt Smith at 2000ad.org
  20. ^ Worley, Alec. "Tharg's Future Shocks". Alec Worley: Comics, fiction, films an' that. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  21. ^ Sims, Chris (16 December 2015). "Bizarro Back Issues: How Tharg Saved Christmas! (1981)". Comics Alliance. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  22. ^ Lorcan McGrane. "2000 AD". In Booker, M. Keith (ed.). Comics Through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Greenwood. p. 835. ISBN 9780313397516.
  23. ^ "Talk Like An Alien [column]" 2000 AD 1033 (March 1997), London: Originally IPC Media (Fleetway) until 1999, thereafter Rebellion Developments
  24. ^ Carter, Wakefield. "A Betelgeusian Phrasebook". BARNEY. Retrieved 3 May 2016.
  25. ^ 200AD ThrilCast (-4:00, 27 January 2016 Thrill-Cast) Roger Blake.