Well this is quite fun. Reading the early Dredd, reviving half-remembered stories and seeing all the seeds of Mega City One slowly germinating. Trouble is I have got a year to cover two-thousand stories. Reading wise it only takes me a minute or two per Prog but it takes me about twenty or thirty minutes to pump out my literary criticism, track down some art (or fail to track down art), and make it all look pretty. I love doing it but I also love eating and sleeping and I would have to give them up if I wanted carry on this in-depth coverage.
My goal is to read the Dredds and this blog is to keep track of my progress. There some awesome blogs out there that do what I have been doing much better. Where do you think I have been stealing the art from? Take a look at:
There are good summaries of the early issues, then follow the link to his new site for the current 2000AD issues.
For just Dredd you can’t beat this guy who has detail as his first, middle and last names:
So rather than compete I am going to try something different. For each storyline I will produce a headline in the style of a Mega City news report. And for the art, because you’ve gotta have art, I will put up the book I read it in so you can go find it yourself. I might put up the 2000AD cover if it is relevant instead. And for big stories you may get a full on review. Hey it’s not like anyone reads this anyway!
Well Robot War changed everything. John Wagner taking the reins of his creation and showing us what a multipart story with a great hook and brilliant execution can do really cranked it up a gear.
This upped the bar for the subsequent stories and new writers and artists coming on board produced better dialogue and more polished work. Despite the occasional clanger. A familiar supporting cast was introduced such as Maria, Walter and Max Normal. The template was firmly established from its dynamic layouts and visual style to its social commentary and healthy dose of poetic justice.
The police were still around although America was mentioned less and less. Innovations such as Atmosphere Control, Riot Foam, the Smokatorium, and new bullets for the lawgiver kept coming thick and fast.
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.
My local library has the first volume of the Judge Dredd Case Files. These collect the Judge Dredd stories into a handy omnibus. Certainly is a lot easier than hunting down second hand issues of 2000AD.
Apparently they go up to 19 volumes so this should make things simpler. But then what…
It’s been a while since I read any Judge Dredd. I was – and hopefully still am – a big fan. I hear all sorts of rumblings about how it has changed so it is about time I had another look.
I figured I would go back to the beginning to revisit the classic stories and dredge up some fond memories of my youth.
I probably should have done a bit more research before just jumping in on this as I don’t know how many stories there are now. It has been about 35 years so I think he has got a bit of a head start on me.
Well I will start slowly with one Prog (issue) per day and then pick up the pace as I get into the swing of things.
Wish me luck.