The weekly British science fiction comics anthology 2000 AD is known in America for its iconic lead character, Judge Dredd, and the number of high quality creators (Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, among others) who once worked on the comic. Some American comics fans may not be aware that 2000 AD has several established conceits that date back to the comics founding in the late 1970s, such as the humorous notion that the comic is managed by a green-skinned extraterrestrial editor named “Tharg the Mighty,” or the comic’s identification of individual issues by “prog” (short for “programme”) numbers, or the idea that the comic’s contents are provided not by human creators but by robots, or “droids”.
In his comic strip Droid Life, cartoonist Cat Sullivan has used this notion of droid workers at 2000 AD to satirize the absurdities of the workplace. 2000 AD has published the strip sporadically since 2004 (beginning in issue, or “prog,” number 1371). The strip focuses on P14, a droid with dreams of being a comics writer, that is currently assigned to write the page number on page 14 of every prog of 2000 AD. However, this is an absurd, frustrating task for P14, as 2000 AD does not have page numbers in its progs; P14 is aware that another droid is assigned to erase his page numbers before the prog is printed.
Often accompanied by a fellow droid named Crumbs, assigned to flick away the eraser crumbs generated by the droid that erases P14’s work, P14 encounters one absurd situation after another in the 2000 AD office place.
Although P14’s surreal adventures take place in the offices of 2000 AD, Sullivan crafts situations with which so many workers can empathize, such as nonsensical feedback from middle managers:
Perhaps the best strips are when P14 is allowed to achieve its creative dreams and write scripts for 2000 AD, only to face less-than-flattering feedback from colleagues.
For example, in one strip, P14 writes a script for the popular 2000 AD feature Strontium Dog:
In another, P14 has an idea based on the popular strip Nikolai Dante:
Although Sullivan grounds the humor in universal situations that can appeal to a broad audience, he also provides satirical material for knowledgeable 2000 AD fans.
For example, in the strip below, P14 makes fun of the shift in office culture brought about by the video game company, Rebellion, purchasing 2000 AD from the comics publishing company, Fleetway:
Sullivan’s Droid Life depicts a sympathetic protagonist with whom anyone who has ever felt underutilized, unappreciated, or abused in the workforce can identify. Droid Life also gives both new and veteran readers of 2000 AD a satiric look at the creative and chaotic process of making a weekly comics magazine.