How 'JudgeDredd Megazine' is celebrating 30th birthday:
Editor Matt Smith looks at the anniversary stories combining familiar faces with new creations.
Lawless’s 50th episode happened to coincide with the anniversary, and Dan and Phil had ideas about how they wanted to mark the occasion; and deliberately acknowledging the milestone by asking John Wagner and Colin MacNeil to return to the “America” storyline, which is still possibly the
Megazines most resonant and pervading story in its 30 years.Add to that Anderson and the Dark Judges, who've been integral to the Dreddworld for so long, and a new series ofThe Returners, which is a more offbeat splinter of the universe, and it all added up to a mega-issue that felt suitably special for such a big anniversary. Also, when we decided to do the
2000 AD Encyclopedia, and serialize as the Meg's supplement, this issue seemed like the perfect one to launch it with.As you point out, there’s such a mix of old favorites and new material in the issue, but character co-creator John Wagner returning to the character for a story that references “America,” which anchored the first issues of the Meg, feels like a particular coup.
I deliberately asked John to write theDreddfor this issue and that it feature Judge Beeny, the daughter of [“America” protagonists] America Jara and Bennett Beeny, who's now a major supporting character in theDreddstrip, and in some ways the future of Justice Department. Dredd rarely explicitly states this, but he sees in her the next generation of the Judges, and she could prove influential in shaping how Mega-City One is governed in the coming decades.
John came up with 'The Victims of Bennett Beeny', which sees Total War terrorists —the anti-Justice Dept direct-action group — take over Bennett Beeny block, and also has Judge Beeny confront the legacy of her mother's actions. [“America” artist] Colin MacNeil was onboard to draw it, but alas had to pull out halfway through the first episode, so Dan Cornwell stepped in and has done a sterling job drawing the remainder.
Of the new strips starting in the issue,Dreadnoughtsreally stands out, especially for American readers right now. It’s an extension of what writer and series co-creator Michael Carroll has been doing in prose for a couple years now with theJudgesseries, but what was the thought process in creating a Justice Department prequel set just 15 years out from the current day? Is it something that will offer the opportunity to comment even more directly on contemporary events?
Mike had dipped into the well of exploring the early days of the Judges in theDreddstory"The Paradigm Shift," published in 2018, which cut between two timelines, but inDreadnoughtshe gets to immerse an entire series in that strange transitional time when Judges were emerging and operating alongside the regular cops.
He pitched it to me as something that would run alongside the"Judges" prose series, and I thought it was a worthy addition to theMeg— something we saw in glimpses in theDreddstory"Origins," but here we get to explore it in even more detail.
John Higgins has done an amazing job on the art, working from [Dreddco-creator] Carlos Ezquerra's designs for the early Judge uniform and rooting it in a near-future environment — and it feels incredibly prescient. When the scripts were written and this first episode drawn, we had no idea how pertinent it would feel for a turbulent U.S. right now. The opening scenes of the first episode, showing visored Judges beating down a demonstration, are scarily on point.
Whilefeels like it’s doubling down on the mythology of the Dredd strip,Megatropolisis just the opposite; a visit to an alternate reality where Mega-City One is recreated in spectacular Art Deco fashion. It feels very closely tied to its creators’ specific styles and interests, but also offers what feels like a Euro take on what has been traditionally a very British — and, in a way, American — concept. Can you talk about the strip’s origins?
[Writer] Ken Niemand pitched it to me as an “Elseworlds” take on Mega-City One — full of the characters that we know from the regularDreddstrip, but repositioned in this ersatz 1920s alternate version. Where Joe Rico is a by-the-book cop working for a corrupt police department, and is partnered with young new transfer Amy Jara, where Barbara Hershey is a crusading journalist, and Madame Cassandra is a celebrity clairvoyant.
I loved it, thought it was a lot of fun — I could see it as an original graphic novel, so contained within its own world. The artist that immediately sprang to mind to draw it was Dave Taylor, as he'd done such beautiful Art Deco work onBatman: Death by Design
, the book he'd done with Chip Kidd. Happily, Dave came onboard and has produced absolutely stunning work.TheMegazinemaking it to its 30th anniversary feels like a real achievement, especially considering the British comics market during that period. (COVID alone!) What is it about the Meg that gave it the sticking power, do you think?
Tenacity, and the strength of the material. TheMeg’s had more than it's fair share of changes to its format over the past three decades — monthly, then fortnightly, then back to monthly, going half reprint, then expanding to 100 pages before going back to 64 pages — but the strength of Dredd's world, and the work done by the creators, has kept people coming back. It's now settled into a pretty strong shape, and with Rebellion’s backing it remains a vital companion to
2000 ADWhat lies ahead for theMeg?Well, the line-up that starts in the birthday issue will continue into the middle of next year, and then we've got great stuff like Read more: Hollywood Reporter »
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