Toxic! - History

History

Toxic! was the idea of Pat Mills, Kevin O'Neill, Mike McMahon, John Wagner and Alan Grant. The aim was to provide creators an outlet for their work to be published with them retaining the rights and control of their work. This was in contrast to 2000 AD, which Mills had also launched in 1977. Toxic! was to be the main rival of 2000AD, and Toxic! would be in full colour throughout as opposed to 2000AD, which was still mainly published in black and white.

Toxic! was published by Apocalypse Ltd, an offshoot of Neptune Distribution based in South Wigston, Leicester. Neptune also owned Trident Comics which printed black and white comics by mainly new, unpublished creators.

The first title released by Apocalypse was a Marshal Law special titled Kingdom of the blind published in October 1990. This was followed by the first issue of Toxic! in March 1991. Toxic! was initially dominated by Mills (Mills had rejected two of John Wagner's proposals, Button Man and Al's Baby for not fitting in with his vision for the comic. These two strips later appeared in 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine respectively). His Marshal Law strip was seen as the flagship title and a character to perhaps rival Judge Dredd. Mills also wrote Accident Man (with Tony Skinner) and Muto-Maniac in the first issue, which was rounded out by a short strip by Alan Grant and Simon Bisley.

This first issue set the tone of Toxic! as it upped the levels of violence, bad language and general anarchic tone that Mills had felt was lacking in 2000AD at the time. The second issue saw Wagner and Grant's Bogie Man strip start in an adventure called The Chinese Syndrome. The strip did not fit comfortably with the others and The Chinese Syndrome stopped suddenly with issue nine, and a different story (The Manhattan Project) started with issue eleven. The second issue also saw the launch of the love-it-or-loathe-it strip The Driver co-written and co-drawn by David Leach and Jeremy Banx, one episode of the which resulted in a visit by the local constabulary to the offices of Toxic after a complaint from an offended reader about Toxic containing obscene material. Issue #15 saw the start of ('The Dinner Ladies From Hell') written and drawn by David Leach, described as a cross between Dennis Wheatley and Robert Rankin.

This was not the only strip which suffered problems, Marshal Law began to miss issues, and some of the material replacing it proved not to be as popular. Some strips meant to be published by Trident Comics were even used to provide filler material. This hurt the title as although it had sold well initially, sales were dropping and it became clear that there were problems with Apocalypse paying creators. These problems meant many creators such as Mike McMahon saw work published which he had not been paid for. After 31 issues the comic was cancelled and shortly afterward Apocalypse went bankrupt. This meant many involved were never paid and some of those never worked in comics again.

In September 2002 Egmont UK launched a boy's magazine entitled Toxic which has proven to be very popular, but apart from the title, there is no connection with the comic of the nineties. However, Toxic magazine does contain some comic strips of the juvenile toilet humour variety.

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