It is with great sadness that we relay the tragic news that legendary British comic-book writer – Alan Grant passed away on July 20, 2022, at the age of 73.
Alan is one of my absolute favourite comic-book authors of all time, I first discovered his inordinate writing talent through Brit comic anthology – 2000AD, where he regaled the readers with his stunning takes on legendary characters such as Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog. But it was his acclaimed run on DC Comics’ Batman and Detective Comics that sealed him as a personal fave in the wonderful world of comics, alongside mainstay artist, the late Norm Breyfogle, Alan produced some of the my favourite tales of the Caped Crusader, it was during this run that he also co-created the rogues gallery characters – Anarky, Victor Zsasz and The Ventriloquist.
Alan was born in Bristol in 1949, but grew up in Scotland. After fleetingly working in a bank, Alan took a trainee position at a local newspaper. At 18 he joined publisher – DC Thomson, home to another classic Brit anthology comic – The Beano, it was during this tenure that he met lifelong comic-book cohorts – Pat Mills and John Wagner.
He moved to London in 1970, and joined publishing giant – IPC, where he worked as a writer and sub-editor, it was here that he was offered an editorial position on 2000AD. Going forward he became one of 2000AD’s most prolific writers with hard edged, anti-authoritarian tales like – “John Cassavetes Is Dead” and “Letter To A Democrat” his writing was inspired by left wing ideology, anarchism and Eastern philosophy. It was in the late 80s’ and throughout most of the 90s’ that Alan worked for DC Comics on their venerable Bat titles and also wrote the celebrated – Judgement On Gotham, the awesome Judge Dredd/Batman crossover alongside Scottish artist – Simon Bisley.
Our thoughts go out to Alan’s family and friends at this very sad time.
American comic-books over the past decade have most assuredly become a much more mainstream field of interest, mostly due to the popularity of celluloid and small screen adaptations, bringing a larger audience to their outrageous spandex clad antics. Though established characters such as Batman and Wonder Woman have been with us now for well over eighty years, and are as readily recognised by even non comic-book fans by their symbolism and deeds, their popularity before said live action adaptations were nowhere near the stratospheric levels they have now reached through their various cinematic endeavours.
Superheroes and their villainous nemeses are now en-vogue, and comic-books as a medium are now more widely accepted as as a legitimate and serious form of storytelling. It wasn’t always this way of course. I have been collecting and reading comics since I was a mere six years of age, and have lost count over the years of the amount of times I have had to defend my choice of escapist literature to the non fan. Even with the rise in prevalence of the celluloid Superhero in recent years , I do tend, even now, to to get a stereotypical – “but comics are for kids” reaction when I profess my adoration for the medium. This situation though has improved in more recent times, again, mainly thanks to the introduction of these beloved characters through their filmic personae. Now more people than ever are buying and reading comics, and actively sharing their own passion for this new found hobby unashamedly with their friends and families. Geeks and Nerds are now de-rigeur.
With both the DC Extended Universe and the MCU going great guns at the box office, the American Superhero has firmly established itself in the public consciousness… But what of it’s British counterparts?
British comics differ greatly from their American brethren, though have endured since their introduction way back in 1937 with – The Dandy. Dandy is a long running children’s publication (in fact, the third longest running comic-book series in history after Action Comics and Detective Comics!) and introduced classic characters – Desperate Dan, and Korky the Kat. Following shortly after, in 1938, The Beano emerged, and presented the British buying public with the arguably more famous (than their Dandy counterparts at least) Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx and Billy Whizz.
These early comics were invariably aimed at the younger market and followed a format that is still primarily used in the UK comic scene today – the anthology. Several stories were contained in each individual issue, introducing the young fan to a plethora of cool characters in quick two or three page adventures, perfect at the time for the attention span of the younger readership. The Superhero archetype was still very much the domain of the American market at this time, and it wasn’t until 1950 that the UK conjured up their own equivalent with the classic sci-fi hero – Dan Dare.
In April of 1950 a new breed of comic-book hit the British news-stands – EAGLE, differing appreciably from from Dandy and Beano it focused on more sophisticated storylines and considerably more intricate artwork. It was the inaugural issue that introduced one of the UK’s most popular and enduring heroes in Dan Dare, though the stories themselves were set in the distant future, the dialog and mannerisms were very reminiscent of old Brit war movies, in fact Dare himself was described as “Biggles in space” (Biggles was a popular series of post WW1 novels starring an ace British pilot, which first published in 1932)
It was the quality of art that really set Dare’s iconic adventures apart from his competitors at this time, and was the first UK comic to use the centrefold ‘splash-page’ style approach to represent its galactic action sequences. Dan Dare endured in EAGLE throughout its initial seventeen year run until 1967. Though he has returned, like the proverbial phoenix, several times, not just in the later relaunched variant of Eagle Comics in 1982, but also Virgin Comics (founded by English entrepreneur – Richard Branson) where he was penned by fan favourite writer – Garth Ennis, and of course, his legendary run in the UK’s most popular comic – 2000 A.D.
2000 A.D. continued the long held tradition of the anthology that was evergreen in the UK, its first issue (known as Progs in the UK) was released in February of 1977, and introduced the Brit comic-book fan to brand new and exciting heroes, and villains hitherto unexplored in a UK publication. The initial line up of strips included – Harlem Heroes – a series that was heavily inspired by the 1970’s explosion of Kung-Fu movies, American basketball stars (specifically – The Harlem Globetrotters) and violent future sports movie – Rollerball. M.A.C.H – 1, told the tale of of a super powered British secret service agent, with obvious nods to both James Bond and The Six Million Dollar Man, and FLESH – an ultra-violent tale about time travelling cowboys heading to the Jurassic era to harvest dinosaurs for their meat, a story that presented a very young me personally, with one of my all time favourite non human protagonists – Old One Eye.
2000 A.D. has gone on to become the most widely read and circulated comic-book series in British history and has delivered some of the most archetypal and fascinating characters ever conceived in the world of the Superhero. As the publication became more in demand, new characters were added to the fold, with likes of Johnny Alpha – Strontium Dog, who found fame after transferring to 2000 A.D. when his original home publication – Starlord – was cancelled. Other terrific tales include – Rogue Trooper – the blue skinned genetically engineered soldier of the future, and the A.B.C Warriors – a team of battling bots who are able to withstand atomic, bacterial and chemical warfare.
Many other heroes and villains have since been presented in the pages of this hallowed publication, some of whom we have already covered in previous posts (of which I will link below for anyone who is interested in this particularly Brit rabbit hole) Of course, conspicuous by his absence is the UK’s biggest and most popular character of all time, the grimly determined lawman of the future – Judge Dredd – For a multitude of reasons Dredd didn’t make an appearance in the first Prog of 2000 A.D. his debut though, came a mere one week later in Prog #2, which cemented his well deserved place in comic-book history!
Has this wet your appetite for other classic Brit characters, then why not check out some of my earlier profile pieces –
Welcome fellow Agents of Precinct1313 to another exhilarating episode of “World’s Finest” a series of exclusive interviews that aim to introduce you to some of our very favourite convocation of comic-book characters of… all… time!
Each episode we cordially invite one of our most treasured – Superheroes, SuperVillains, Costumed Crimefighters, Dimension Dwelling Demons and, of course, Super-Pets, to answer a quotient of quintessentially quirky questions about life, the universe and cake (’cause everyone loves cake!)
And so, let us welcome to Precinct1313’s stately sanguine sofa of shockingly satirical secrets – the Emperor of Expiration, the Duke of Demise, the decidedly discorporeal, and defiantly deceased – Judge Death!
Precinct1313: W… w… welcome, uh, J… Judge Death, to this week’s World’s Finest…
Judge Death: Hsssssssssssss…
Precinct1313: It’s, erm, lovely to have you join us this evening?
Judge Death: You! you have the foul ssssstench of the Living!
Precinct1313: I, uh, am what you might currently call alive, yes.
Judge Death: Life isssssss crime, the sssssssentence is…
Precinct1313: …Death! yes, yes I know, I’ve been a big fan of yours since you first fought your nemesis, Judge Dredd way back in issue #149 of 2000AD…
Judge Death: You would do well to not interrupt me again, you missssserable mortal malignancy!
Precinct1313: I, uh, i..it won’t happen again, Mr Death, uh, sir…
Judge Death: Your feeble attempt at appeasement meansssss nothing foul fleshling, life isssss an aberration and I am itssssss cure
Precinct1313: Erm, if you don’t mind me interjecting for just a second, but if my history is correct haven’t you already “cured” your own dimension of it’s populace?
Judge Death: Yessssss, Deadworld now livessss up to itssssss appurtenant moniker.
Precinct1313: Of course, your personal reasoning for the slaughter of billions of lives was that because all crime is committed by the living, that life itself must be a crime?
Judge Death: Yessssss, with the help of the witch sisterssssss, Phobia and Nausea, and my fellow Dark Judgesssss I was able to finally bring those tortured and corrupt living soulsssss into the cold embrace of expiration…
Precinct1313: Ah yes, your infamous entourage of euthanasia, the other Dark Judges Fear, Fire and Mortis! together you make a most formidable and fatal foursome, I mean few have stood a chance against your potency for perishing.
Judge Death: Your alliteration is nonsenssssse and childisssh, and you will cease and desist immediately… or you will literally cease to exisssssst!
Precinct1313: Ceased… forthwith!
Judge Death: Good, my brethren Judges are almossssst here, and your wit and badinage will not be welcomed by them, in the ssssslightest!
Precinct1313: I’m sorry, did you just say that the other Dark Judges are, um, on their way here… right now!?
Judge Death: Yesssssssss, they want to meet you!
Precinct1313: They, uh, do? for like, my autograph, or something… right?
Judge Death: No, to judge you, though I fear I already know the outcome…
Precinct1313: Fear? oh no, come on…
Judge Fear: GAZE INTO THE FACE OF FEAR!!
Precinct1313: Oh thank grudd… Dredd! you saved me from a fate worse than… oh hang on, from actual death…
Judge Dredd: I wouldn’t rejoice just yet citizen, you are charged with conspiring with the Dark Judges, how do you plead?
Precinct1313: Conspiring, erm, all I did was invite Judge Death over for an interview, it’s sort of what I do…
Judge Dredd: And unleashed him upon your dimension, where now millions of lives will expire, you are found guilty of collusion, the sentence is death!
Precinct1313: Ah, dammit!
Judge Death, Fire, Mortis, Fear and Dredd are Copyright: 2000AD and Rebellion.
Welcome fellow agents of Precinct1313 to another episode of ‘The Week In Geek’ where we love to share our favourite Comic Book, Video-Game, and Cult Movie news for your perusal and pleasure. And so once more unto the geek dear agents, once more…
DC Set June 3rd As Wonder Woman Day…
‘By the canescent collar of Cerberus’ will June be a month of serious Amazonian revelry and celebration, for not only will we be witness to the Themysciran Titan’s big screen solo escapades on June 2, but DC Comics have also announced that June 3 is officially Wonder Woman day! That’s right, my awesomely amazing Amazonian affiliates we’re talking a full weekend of wondrous festivity in the company of the world’s finest fictional female, so let’s all praise Hera.. for this truly is a gift from the glorious Greek Gods themselves!
Judge Dredd Will Soon Be Passing Judgement, In Your Living Room!..
That’s right fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, Ol’ stoney face himself – Judge Dredd will soon be invading your living rooms in the recently announced ‘Mega City One’ TV series!
The British comic book icon is set to star in his very own series thanks to 2000 AD owners Rebellion teaming up with IM Global. Rebellion have announced that development of the series is currently underway, and the cast will be unveiled soon. The series will be filmed in the UK and overseen by Rebellion themselves, which makes us supremely confident that it will remain ever faithful to the popular character.
Rebellion owners, Chris and Jason Kingsley said: “We are very excited to be beginning the journey of getting Dredd’s Mega-City One on the television screen, thanks to the legion of fans who have kept up pressure on social media. We aim to make a big budget production that will please our fans and the general screen watching public alike.”
By Stomm, this is gruddamn Dredd-tastic news, updates as we hear them citizens!
Doomsday Approaches The DC Universe…
Who or what is behind the reality shifting events of 2016’s biggest selling comic DC Rebirth? superstar scribe and DC Entertainment President Geoff Johns will reveal all when the mini-series ‘Doomsday Clock’ launches later this year.
“It’s Watchmen colliding with the DC Universe” Johns told SyfyWire, “It is the most personal and epic, most utterly mind-bending project I have worked on in my career.”
At the beginning of the year Geoff Johns revealed his return to comic book writing by releasing a teaser image of Dr Manhattan on his Twitter stream, and his upcoming Doomsday Clock mini-series will ultimately reveal the intention behind Doc’s machinations, and their massive ramifications for the DC Universe, oh and Superman and Doc will clash in epic fashion!!
Alongside offering answers for Rebirth, the mini-series will also explore the the core nature of humanity that differentiates Superman and Dr Manhattan as characters (aside from them punching the hell out of each other, of course!)
Doomsday Clock releases this November…
Why not join us again next time friends for more Week In Geek
Welcome fellow agents of Precinct1313 to another episode of The Week In Geek, where we love to share our favourite, Comic Book, Video-Game, and Cult Movie news for your perusal and pleasure…
Lara Croft Returns…
Lara Croft, the quintessentially English raider of tombs will be returning to the silver screen in 2018 courtesy of Swedish actress Alicia Vikander. The adventurous archaeologist was last seen at cinemas in the 2003 “Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life” starring Angelina Jolie. The new movie seems to be following heavily in the footsteps of the recent reboot of the game itself in 2013, right down to digital Lara’s actual outfit, as these recent set photos confirm.
The movie is set for release in March 2018, starring Alicia Vikander, Walter Goggins, and Dominic West. Directed by Roar Uthaug.
2000AD Gets Set To Celebrate It’s 40th Anniversary…
Stalwart British Sci-Fi/Fantasy anthology comic (or Prog, as we call it here in jolly ol’ Blighty) 2000AD is preparing itself for celebrating it’s fortieth year in print! The Zarjaz zine was unleashed onto the British comic book scene in 1977 and has gone on to be the biggest selling and most loved comic book in the UK’s history, the classic comic has introduced such legendary creations as – Judge Dredd, Nemesis the Warlock, Slaine and Zenith amongst a cavalcade of others too numerous to mention.
Not only has this groundbreaking comic given us a cadre of classic characters, but it was also responsible for letting loose some of the UK’s most famed comic book creators, such luminous lights as – Alan Moore, John Higgins, Brian Bolland, Alan Grant, Grant Morrison, Simon Bisley, Pat Mills et al. And on February 11th, these creators and more will be attending Hammersmith, London in a celebration of mighty magnitude for a “Forty Years Of Thrill Power” festival that includes panel discussions, live drawing exhibitions, exclusive film screenings and prop displays. Happy Birthday 2000AD!
Netflix To Unleash Castlevania TV Show…
Netflix have announced an upcoming series based upon Konami’s much loved video-game franchise Castlevania. The Japanese action adventure game debuted way back in 1986 to instant acclaim, it is centered around the Belmont family, a clan of vampire hunters and their protracted war against Count Dracula and his minions.
Apart from this initial announcement (contained within a press release) very little else is known about the project, except one tantalising nugget, that the first season will be penned by none other than the great Warren Ellis, Comic Book author extraordinaire, who has given the world such astonishing series as Hellblazer and Transmetropolitan. If this turns out as great as I hope, maybe we could see more production companies mining the vast annals of video-game lore… Dark Souls TV series anyone!
Why not join us next time friends, for more Week In Geek…
It is with great sadness that we report that veteran British comic-book artist Steve Dillon passed away this week, he was 54 years of age. His untimely passing was confirmed by his brother, Glyn Dillon today.
Steve Dillon was best known in the comic-book community for his work on DC/Vertigo’s ‘Preacher’ series, on which he collaborated with writer Garth Ennis. But he is most fondly remembered by myself for his contributions to classic British anthology comic – 2000AD, especially his stunning artwork for Judge Dredd, which was one of my favourite versions of the character.
Steve Dillon also worked for DC Comics and Vertigo on their Hellblazer/Constantine series, and Marvel’s Punisher. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
Borag Thungg fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome back to another instalment of ‘Great British Comic Book Characters’ Precinct1313’s episodic delve into the UK’s biggest selling and highly influential weekly anthology comic: 2000AD. And today’s episode marks a massive milestone for the ‘Galaxy’s Greatest Comic’ with the release of it’s 2000th issue!
The iconic British comic book has been administering thrill power to the masses since it was first introduced in 1977. It has been responsible for unleashing such seminal characters as Nemesis the Warlock, Zenith, Rogue Trooper, Slaine, Strontium Dog, and of course, it’s most important and popular persona, the grim lawman of the future, Judge Dredd.
The weekly anthology not only became the biggest selling British comic in the UK’s history (and still is today) but also helped thrust into the limelight some of the greatest British writers and artists in comic book lore, such luminary delights as Pat Mills, Alan Moore, Simon Bisley, Alan Grant, Brian Bolland and Grant Morrison. These outstanding talents have gone on to be responsible for some of the most legendary works in comics with titles including, Batman: The Killing Joke, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing and many, many more.
Celebrating a monumental 2000 issues, today is the most important day in British comic-book history as the illustrious issue hits the UK newsstands. Prog #2000 begins with an illustrated introduction from some of 2000AD’s most famed creators, and Quaxxan native – Tharg the Mighty, 2000AD’s alien editor, acts as our virtual tour guide across the stunning strips. As we dive into the grandiose comic, we are delighted to see the return of some of the original Scrotnig stalwarts, especially two of Dredd’s creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra who present us with an extra special anniversary story depicting Mega City’s most feared Judge, who teams up up with renowned Strontium Dog himself Johnny Alpha.
Other delights include, the return of Pat Mills and Kevin O’ Neill to Nemesis the Warlock, and an especially Zarjaz tale featuring PSI Judge Anderson (my personal favourite 2000AD character) brought to you by legendary scribe Alan Grant, with exceptional visuals by the extremely talented David Roach. The Prog (2000AD and British’ism for issue, fact fans) ships with three different covers, and is a complete and utter steal at a mere £3.99.
The irreverent satirical humour, anti-establishment rhetoric, and dystopian outlook are all present and correct, as they always have been since this momentous comic’s first appearance. Mixed in with stunning art and classic creators, this is a fitting tribute to one of the world’s most iconic and groundbreaking works of fiction, ‘Florix Grabundae’ to Tharg the Mighty, founder Pat Mills, and the cadre of creators that have given us, humble British comic book fans, such delightfully satirical entertainment over the years. Splundig Vur Thrigg’ fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo’
Tharg’s Catchphrase Dictionary…
Tharg the Mighty has not only brought fantastic characters and thrill-power to the comic-book masses over the years, but also his own dialect. So to induct those Terrans who have never spoken Quaxxiann, we proffer a list of his most widely utilised phrases and their Terran translations.
“Borag Thungg Earthlet” – Greetings Human.
“Zarjaz” – Excellent.
“Krill Tro Thargo” – Honoured By Tharg.
“Florix Grabundae” – Many Thanks.
“Nonscrot” – Someone Who Doesn’t Read 2000AD.
“Scrotnig” – Exciting/Amazing.
“Squaxx Dek Thargo” – Friend Of Tharg.
“Splundig Vur Thrigg” – Goodbye.
Borag Thungg fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome back to another instalment of “Great British Comic Book Characters,” Precinct1313‘s episodic look at the UK’s biggest selling and highly influential weekly anthology comic; 2000AD.
Over the previous five instalments of this ongoing series, I have gradually introduced you to the characters and creators of the “Galaxy’s Greatest Comic,” what first motivated me to begin a series on 2000AD was initially the fact that, apart from Judge Dredd, the majority of classic characters from this mighty tome are rather unknown to the world outside of the British isles. Fantastic creations such as Nemesis the Warlock, Rogue Trooper, Zenith and Strontium Dog have rich backstories, superstar creators and close to 40 years of history, yet still remain in relative obscurity. Having grown up alongside these characters, I decided to utilise my blog to promote, as best as I could, these groundbreaking comic characters and hopefully draw more appreciation and proclivity towards characters I believe are deserving of a far larger audience than they currently receive.
Released in the UK on December 7, “Future Shock! The Story Of 2000AD” is an 106 minute documentary that charts the rise of Britain’s favourite comic-book, offering up a dynamic and comprehensive overview of the comic that includes a look at the various highs and lows of the comics history, and extensive coverage of the creative process behind the scenes of the long running megazine. Documenting how a band of Britain’s most talented and eclectic comic talent came together to create the visionary publication, and guest starring a swathe of said talent including; Neil Gaiman, Pat Mills, John Wagner, Grant Morrison and Dave Gibbons, plus recent “Dredd” actor Karl Urban is also on hand to profess his adoration for 2000AD‘s world famous grim protector of the law.
Future Shock! is directed by Paul Goodwin, who has, as previously mentioned, assembled an iconic group of talent for interviews and nostalgic musings on their past glories. Especially entertaining, as always, is the fantastic Pat Mills, who rages and rants humorously on the ups and downs of the comic’s (at times) tempestuous past, Mills alone is worth the asking price, one of the greatest talents in the UK industry, he never pulls his punches and always tells things as they are, his part in this documentary is legendary!.
The documentary itself mostly consists of the aforementioned interviews alongside various illustrations, also included though are some impressive animations courtesy of Zebra Post, with the opening sequence being a particular stand-out piece. The docu mainly covers the 70’s and 80’s of 2000AD‘s long history, but does touch on the 90’s, especially on sister publication Judge Dredd: The Megazine.
At over 100 minutes long, this fantastic look at 2000AD is a must have for fans of the comic, but also offers up an intriguing study of British comics in a time when the UK was going through a considerable transition in politics, music and outlook, 2000AD embraced and used these changes to produce an intelligent and sometimes hilariously subversive comic that almost predominantly helped evolve not just the comic book scene in Britain, but ultimately the across the planet itself.
Precinct1313 Rating: Zarjaz!!
“Oh hi there, Judge Death here, the Duke of Demise, Emperor of Expiration and all round evil fiend. Just thought I’d stop by to wish my old foe Dredd congratulations on 25 years of his solo comic, before I head out to snuff the life of billions in my eternal quest to extinguish the living from all mortal planes. Best enjoy as many comics as you can humans, for soon I shall come for your corporeal souls… you have a great day now”
Uh, thanks for that Death… Borag Thungg fellow Squaxx Dek Thargo, and welcome to an anniversary edition of “Great British Comic Book Characters” wherein we shall be celebrating a quarter of a century of “Judge Dredd: The Megazine.”
That’s right Dredd devotees, 2000 AD‘s sister comic – The Megazine is celebrating 25 years of dispensing justice and thrill-power today. Launched way back in October 1990, Megazine collected classic Dredd stories from the past, including such greats as, “Young Death” and “America” and this awesome anniversary issue also sports a fantastic commemorative cover by Barry Kitson, who is triumphantly returning to the 2000 AD fold for the first time in 23 years!
The special edition cover contains the twenty five most heinous of Dredd‘s rogues gallery including such sadistic evil-doers as, Judge Death, Fink Angel, Judge Fear, Mean Machine, Captain Skank, and Rico Dredd. Like its sister publication 2000 AD, Megazine (formed from the wordplay of magazine and Mega-City One, fact fans) is an anthology comic, originally containing tales set only within the Dredd universe.
As the years moved on it expanded to include other unconnected stories, interviews with artists and writers, and a monthly supplement that would focus on the work of certain celebrity 2000 AD contributors such as Simon Bisley, Alan Grant, and John Higgins, plus from issue #276 they opened up a unique creator-owned slot that featured Tank Girl and American Reaper amongst its superstar guest characters. So here’s to another 25 years in the company of the world’s toughest lawman, by Drokk!
Judge Dredd’s Catchphrase Dictionary;
In case you ever find yourself stranded in downtown Mega-City One, and don’t know your skedway from your zoomway, well worry no more because here’s a handy dandy guide to Mega-City lingo that may just save your Grud-damn life!
Drokk: An expletive, profanity.
Stomm: Word for an unpleasant substance or food stuff.
Sov: Shortened term for East Megians, Soviets.
Jay: A Judge.
Jimp: Judge impersonator.
Slab: Pedestrian walkway or pavement.
Resyk: Recycling centre, where dead bodies are processed and recycled.
Mutie: Shortened from mutant.
Sked: Term used for roads, shortened from Skedway.
Zoomway: High speed, multi-lane motorways.
Iso-Cube: Isolation cube, various stacked prison cells.
Judge Dredd: The Megazine #365 Anniversary Edition is available at your local comic-book emporium and all good newsagents right now.
Judge Dredd and Judge Dredd: The Megazine are copyright – Rebellion.
Iconic British anthology comic 2000AD has been administering thrill power to the masses since its inception in 1977. It not only succeeded in presenting to the world seminal characters like Judge Dredd, Zenith and Nemesis the Warlock, but also helped launch into the spotlight some of the greatest British writers and artists in comic book history, luminaries such as Brian Bolland, Pat Mills, Alan Grant, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Simon Bisley. American comic book companies like DC and Marvel have been mining these outstanding British talents to great effect since then on titles that include Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke, V For Vendetta and many, many others too numerous to mention.
1975 and Kevin Gosnell, an editor at IPC Magazines commissioned the freelance writer Pat Mills, who had previously created weekly adventure comic Action, to develop a new science fiction based anthology comic which he hoped would ride on the wave of popularity of forthcoming Sci-Fi blockbuster movies. Pat Mills brought in another freelancer, John Wagner as adviser and together they began to create characters for the new publication. The futuristic sounding name of 2000AD was then chosen, with the failure rate of new comics in the UK at a high, no-one ever expected the title to ever last past that date. How wrong they were… thankfully.
The debut issue of 2000AD hit the British newsagents on the 26 February 1977, consisting of a line up of four separate stories, Harlem Heroes, Flesh, M.A.C.H 1, and 50’s British Science Fiction icon Dan Dare who was revived from ten years in limbo after his original home publication Eagle Comics shuttered in 1967.
There was another character who also made his first appearance in the new anthology comic, he would go on to be one of only two characters to appear in nearly every issue of 2000AD since its inception (the other being Dredd.) Tharg The Mighty was created by Pat Mills as the fictional editor of the comic, an alien who hailed from the planet Quaxxann in Betelgeuse, Tharg writes the comics introduction, answers questions from its readership (whom he originally referred to as ‘Earthlets’) and gives out prizes to readers who suggested stories and sent in artwork (prizes could be given in pound sterling or Tharg’s own currency of galactic groats.) Tharg would oversee the ‘Thrill Power’ quotient of each comic and led a team of creative robots who supplied the art and stories for each issue (with each robot resembling their real life counterpart.)
2000AD creator Pat Mills’ writing had a strong anti-authoritarian vibe and attitude that was popular amongst his legion of readers and fans, but he also noted the effect that more authority based characters had on his readership after the creation of the Dirty Harry inspired maverick cop One-Eyed Jack by fellow 2000AD creator John Wagner for Valiant Comics, a boys adventure publication which ran between 1962 and 1976. This character was the beginning blocks of Britain’s biggest ever comic book export, the uber violent, no nonsense lawman of the future… Judge Dredd.
Dredd made his first appearance in Prog #2 of 2000AD, a tough cop who resides in the dystopian futuristic metropolis of Mega City One. Initially designed by Wagner and named after an abandoned horror strip character created by Pat Mills about a hanging Judge named ‘Dread.’ Spanish artist Carlos Ezquerra was tasked with visualising the character, and based his first designs on the the movie character Frankenstein from the 1975 cult hit ‘Death Race 2000.’ Dredd has gone on to appear in every single issue of 2000AD since that time. In 1983 he broke into the highly lucrative comic book market in America with his own series simply titled ‘Judge Dredd’ which consisted of reprints of his earlier adventures in 2000AD. In 1990 Dredd received his own title in the UK, ‘Judge Dredd – The Megazine’ written by his creator John Wagner.
Judge Joseph Dredd is the most celebrated and feared of Mega City’s Judges, tasked with bringing the law to the innumerable criminals in the teeming metropolis, literally Judge, Jury and executioner, with the power to instantly dispense justice as he sees fit. Patrolling the streets on his Lawmaster motorcycle, which comes equipped with machine guns, a laser cannon and an artificial intelligence that can pacify crowds and perform other innumerable tasks. All judges come equipped with the Lawgiver sidearm, designed to only recognise its parent Judge’s palm print and able to fire six different kinds of ammunition, including armour piercing and heat seeking rounds. Dredd and his brother Rico were cloned from the DNA of Chief Judge Fargo, Mega City’s original Chief Judge, and the name Dredd was given to them by Morton Judd the genetic scientist who created them, to “instill fear in the populace.”
Dredd continues to dispense justice in 2000AD and The Megazine in the UK, and has been the star of two movies, the much maligned “Judge Dredd” from 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone, and the more recent (and a hell of a lot better) “Dredd” portrayed by New Zealand actor Karl Urban (which I reviewed right here)
Tharg’s Catchphrase Dictionary:
Tharg the mighty not only brought fantastic characters and thrill-power to the universal masses, but also his own dialect which most 2000AD die-hards (myself included) use on a regular basis. So to induct those Terrans that have never spoken Quaxxiann, we proffer a list of his most widely used and popular catchphrases and their Terran translations.
“Borag Thungg Earthlet” – Greetings Human.
“Zarjaz” – Excellent.
“Krill Tro Thargo” – Honoured by Tharg.
“Florix Grabundae” – Many Thanks.
“Nonscrot” – Someone who doesn’t read 2000AD.
“Scrotnig” – Exciting or amazing.
“Squaxx Dek Thargo” – Friend of Tharg.
“Splundig Vur Thrigg” – Goodbye.
‘Florix Grabundae’ to everyone who has followed this series so far, and in our next instalment we will be looking at the other classic characters that make up the UK’s biggest selling comic, especially personal favourites, Nemesis the Warlock and Rogue Trooper. So until that time, have a ‘Zarjaz’ day and ‘Splundig Vur Thrigg’ fellow ‘Squaxx Dek Thargo.’
2000AD, Judge Dredd, Harlem Heroes, Dan Dare, M.A.C.H 1, Flesh and Tharg are copyright: Rebellion 2015.
We spend most of our time in the Precinct writing about the heroes and villains that inhabit the pages of DC’s comic-book universe, in fact about 90% of the posts originating from us are about this classic company’s plethora of characters.
I first discovered Superheroes through DC after being bought a copy of Detective Comics by my Mum at the tender age of six, it was here that I came across the character that has had the biggest influence on me as I have grown up… Batman. I continued to read nothing but Batman stories up until the age of 9, when I decided to branch out and leave my comfort zone of Gotham City, and travel to a place that was as far removed from that festering crime-ridden city as could be… Themyscira, home of the fabled Amazons and of course the world’s first ever female Superhero… Wonder Woman.
With all that said, being English, I also grew up reading and collecting the characters that came out of a popular British comic-book called 2000 AD, these home grown dramatis-personae were very different to the spandex clad heroes who populated the books I avidly collected from DC. I always found that these characters originating from the land of my birth were (though this is only true of the late 70’s and very early 80’s) darker, edgier and definitely more derived from what was happening in the UK on a weekly basis, be that through political or trendsetting issues.
Characters like Judge Dredd, (even though the stories were based in a fictional dystopian USA) were directly influenced by the politics and social movements of late seventies and early eighties Britain. Dredd himself was a correlation of what the people of the UK in the eighties believed the country was becoming; a police state, plus the rise of the anti-establishment punk rock movement that originated from Britain in direct defiance of how the government were running the country at the time, George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel “1984″ seemed to be coming true (in fact, the UK has the largest amount of street surveillance cameras in the world.)
Now then, this isn’t a politically motivated piece (politics bores the hell out of me, to be honest) just a small background on why, I believe, that the heroes and villains that leapt out of the pages of British comics were so different from their US counterparts. Alan Moore’s masterpiece “V for Vendetta” captured this sentiment perfectly, an amazing amalgam of everything that was believed to be taking place, and how at the time (and maybe still today, to some extent) the people of this sceptred Isle felt about the direction the country was taking.
Now that the lengthy preamble is done, we can concentrate on the interesting things this hopefully weekly series will bring you, my loyal and avid readers and blogging friends… cool comic characters from this tiny island we call the United Kingdom. So stay tuned, in our next instalment we shall examine the popular rise of the British comic-book industry and its first foray into the realm of the Superhero. Until next time, or as Tharg The Mighty would say “Splundig Vur Thrigg.”
Super-Villain Sunday returns with 2000 AD’s famous defiler of the living and Judge Dredd’s most dangerous adversary – Judge Death. Judge Death was created by 2000 AD stalwarts, John Wagner and Brian Bolland in 1980, making his first appearance in 2000 AD #149. Death hails from the alternate dimension known as Deadworld, where life was declared illegal by Judge Death, since only the living can commit crime.
Death was originally a psychopathic boy who enjoyed inflicting pain on innocents, joining his dimension’s version of the Judges, so he could murder more easily, he gained his moniker of ‘Judge Death’ from his fellow Judges for his propensity to execute all lawbreakers. Upon meeting the witch sisters, Nausia and Phobia he had himself transformed into a virtually invincible undead corpse and proceeded to exterminate all life on the planet alongside his three brothers of ruination, Judge Fear, Judge Fire and Judge Mortis, collectively known as The Dark Judges.
Once all life had been snuffed out in their their parallel dimension, the Dark Judges crossed over into Earth’s plane and continued in their calamitous campaign on this new world, only to be stopped short by Judges Dredd and Anderson. Death and his ghastly cohorts would return to Mega City One on several occasions to bring their brand of evil justice to it’s citizens, with their most successful foray in the 1990 multi part story Necropolis, where aided by his mentors, the witch sisters, they would annihilate over 60 million innocents, only to be thwarted once more by Dredd, who had been in exile at the time of their invasion.
Super-Villain Rating: Grim Reaper.
Judge Death reading recommendations: Batman/Judge Dredd: Judgement on Gotham, Judge Dredd: Necropolis, Young Death: Boyhood of a Superfiend.
Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Rakie Ayola, Jason Cope, Deobia Oparei, Langley Kirkwood. Director: Pete Travis. Writers: John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra (original comic characters), Alex Garland (screenplay).
Though primarily I am what most people would call a DC Comics ‘fan-boy’ (and they would be correct!), I am also a ‘Brit’ so grew up reading and loving 2000 AD, especially their primary star – Judge Joseph Dredd, arguably the most famous British comic-book character of all time. 2000 AD was first published in the UK in 1977, it was an amalgam of different characters per issue but always had one constant that ran in almost every single issue … Dredd.
Judge Dredd was created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra in 1977 and made his first appearance in 2000 AD #2. Wagner had created many other grim and gritty characters in his career and Judge Dredd is the ultimate culmination of this, an authoritative, almost fascistic, grim and determined keeper of the law, a Dirty Harry of the future but with none of the levity of Clint Eastwood’s famous character. Judges are the ultimate peacekeepers in the future city of Mega-City One, Judge, Jury and Executioner … they literally are the law.
The 2012 Dredd movie is as close to it’s source material as it could possibly hoped to have got, this really hinged on getting the right actor to portray a character that is much loved by it’s very vocal fanbase, after what turned out to be a disappointing outing of the character in the 1995 Sylvester Stallone helmed version of Judge Dredd (fun movie … bad Dredd movie) It was ever more important to cast it well. Luckily they hit the jackpot with the brilliant (and still a little underrated) Karl Urban, a fine actor whose portrayal of Dredd is spot on, monotone, determined and to the point, exactly as Dredd would be.
Alongside Dredd in the movie is the second most famous of the Judges – Cassandra Anderson, my own personal favourite character from 2000 AD. Anderson is a member of the famed PSI division of the Judges, she is a very gifted and powerful psychic. Olivia Thirlby fills the Judge boots of Anderson in the film and again ends up being another extremely great piece of casting as she almost steals the movie with a fantastic and emotional performance of the gifted but troubled rookie Judge out on her very first patrol, with her future career ultimately being determined by Dredd himself.
Working out of the Halls of Justice, the Judges are the last line of defence in the future city of Mega -City One. Walled off from the irradiated wasteland outside known as the Cursed Earth, this metropolis comprises 800 million citizens, living in close proximity, crime and chaos is rife and the tide is held back by just a few thousand Judges. It is here that we meet Dredd, the ultimate lawman, as he and his new cadet, Judge Anderson investigate a multiple homicide at the mega complex of Peach Trees.
The investigation ultimately leads Dredd and Anderson to the movie’s villain – Ma Ma, the sadistic and badly scarred Queen of crime and leader of one of the sectors biggest and baddest gangs and largest trafficker of the super drug Slo-Mo. Ma Ma is played by English actress Lena Headey, best known for her roles in Game of Thrones and 300, Headey’s portrayal of the psychotic Ma Ma is excellent, grounded but at the same time chilling and unsettling.
Though we only get a brief glimpse of the city itself as most of the movie takes place in the Peach Trees Mega-Block, what we are given is a sprawling dystopian vision of the future, a run down collection of ugly grey Mega-Scrapers and giant motorways in the sky, exactly the sort of enviroment that would breed a murderous villain like Ma Ma and a grim protector of the innocent like Dredd.
Director Pete Travis and writer Alex Garland present us with a violent, gritty comic-book world inhabited by super cops and maniacal villains and it pulls no punches, it deserves its 18 rating with some graphic and overt action sequences, Dredd’s world is a dark and desperate place teetering on the brink of self destruction. The ultimate test of the film’s success lies inevitably with the fanbase, and Dredd is universally loved by it’s fans, and even though box office receipts were initially disappointing, Dredd has ultimately recouped its budget, though a sequel is still unconfirmed the film’s creators, actors and fans strive to bring Dredd back to the big screen once more, Hopefully this will be sooner rather than later as this particular Dredd movie is fantastic and is highly recommended to all fans of the comic character himself and anyone into violent sci-fi action movies.
Precinct1313 Rating: 5 years in an iso-cube out of 5.