“This is no cute and cuddly polar bear. He’s a blizzard of white hot horror, the terror of the frozen wastes, he is SHAKO – and he is death!”
Shako was a horror comic strip published in legendary British weekly 2000 AD for sixteen issues in 1977.
While 2000 AD was (and is) primarily science fiction based, it would occasionally venture into the world of horror, usually in single-run strips – that is, stories that have a beginning, middle and end over a period of continuing episodes, rather than a continuing character. Shako was one such story, written by Judge Dredd creators Pat Mills and John Wagner, and illustrated by Ramon Sola, Juan Arancio, Dodderio and Lopez Vera.
The story of a killer polar bear who swallows a container of germ weaponry after a plane crash, the strip was short on plot or character development, but high on gory mayhem as the CIA, represented by Jake Falmuth – or “Foulmouth” – and assisted by Inuit guide Buck Dollar, try to capture the bear, who has developed a taste for human flesh and a hatred for people, before the Soviets get hold of him.
The strip ran from prog 20 to prog 36, and would later have a prequel story, White Fury, which apeared in the 1987 2000 AD Annual. It had the feel of a leftover from 2000 AD predecessor, the notorious Action!, and in many ways is an imitation of that comic’s Jaws rip-off, Hook Jaw, with the bear replacing the shark. It was also very much in the tradition of the ‘nature strikes back’ horror that was popular at the time.
Like many of these single-run strips, Shako didn’t develop much of a following amongst the readership at the time, but over the years it has developed a reputation as one of the most outrageous of the early 2000 AD stories, with its mix of the ludicrous and the gory violence, which frequently saw Shako biting heads off – remember, this was a comic aimed at kids!
The strip was republished in reprint magazine 2000 AD Extreme in 2006, and in December 2012, the whole Shako run – including White Fury – was compiled in book format.