My First Month in the Megacity
Well this might be an unfair time to cast a critical eye over a title that is still suffering its birth pains but almost two months have elapsed in 2000AD time.
Many things surprise me about seeing these early strips for the first time. There are strong roots laid down that will carry the concept forward for a long time to come. The iconic look of the Judges, the Lawmaster and even the megacity are all firmly established from day one. Although there is no sign of the square-jawed, Clint Eastwood figure that I remember, at least he dresses the part.
Also surprising is the amount of action you can fit into five or sometimes four pages. I don’t know if this is a sign of great writing but four pages doesn’t seem a lot of room for a beginning, a middle and an end. And the layouts are pretty radical. Coming from the regular, ordered, straight edges of the Dandy and Beano or even Tintin and Asterix to the frenetic visual jumble of Dredd is a real eye-opener. Even in today’s graphic novels the hard border and separate panel structure is king.
There are some novel ideas, good nuggets of science-fiction, and a wry look at the culture of the time but the dialogue is really bad. Dredd hasn’t yet found his voice and swings wildly from Shakespearian monologue to cartoon character. There is no sign of the “show, don’t tell” maxim as thanks to an incessant internal monologue Dredd is both showing and telling at the same time.
If this were published today for the first time would it stand up to a spoilt and jaded readership? That’s a tricky one. An eight year old of today bombarded by media from birth might not give it a second glance. But there are enough interesting ideas and tantalising glimpses at what this title could be to peak my interest.
Let’s see what next week’s literary archaeology turns up.