2 out of 5
The term “pulp” is pretty broad. While it is generally used to suggest a type or feel of story, anything that’s not wholly literary could probably qualify to a certain degree.
For Pulp Sci-Fi, given the copy on the back of this floppy collection, as well as the Pulp Fiction tribute cover, we’ll assume that Mark Harrison’s anthology series is using some specific watermarks: sex! violence! short stories!
Now, given that 2000 AD is already sci-fi, is already split into 6-page entries, contains plenty of violence, and though may not focus on it, does not completely stray from sex – especially in the 90s – is it not already pulp? So how, exactly, might this strip differ?
I’d say that unclear focus affected most of the offerings here, which generally amount to being Future Shocks which swerve out of the way (i.e. read very forced) to include that sex or violence. Writers that don’t stay super bound to this – Dan Abnett, Gordon Rennie, Dean Ormston – come out best, but almost all the strips suffer from art / artist mismatches. Mark Harrison would take quite a while on Grey Area to balance out his digital style with comic book framing / pacing, and that’s probably at least in part thanks to Abnett’s guidance. That partnership doesn’t quite work for comedy, but their pairing is still a top offering. When Harrison is on his own, the page flow takes a dive, which disrupts his narratives. Elsewhere, perhaps seeking to match Mark’s flourished look, some great, stylized / detailed artists are put to task on purposefully flighty tales (which I’ve already remarked aren’t wholly too great), and the whole thing ends up pretty unfocused.