Comic books as a medium have rarely need an excuse to feature a gorilla in a story, but in Judge Dredd Megazine #376, there's a little more going on under the surface than just the fun of seeing an ape wearing Judge Dredd's uniform.

The ape in question, Harry Heston, was created for an award-winning self-published comic in 1999 by 2000 AD super-fans Stewart Perkins and Jake Lynch, conceived as a super-intelligent, genetically modified gorilla living on the outskirts of Mega City One, who patterned himself after Dredd in an attempt to bring law and order to his home.

Perkins, who served in the British army, volunteered for cadet training, and even worked with 2000 AD's parent company, Rebellion, had always wanted to see his creation brought into the official Dredd cannon, and next week, that's finally happening. Tragically, Perkins won't get to see his dream realized, as he died suddenly and unexpectedly in May.

 

 

Here's what 2000 AD had to say about the book:

Named after Dirty Harry and Charlton Heston, Stewart and Jake created Harry Heston for their Judge Dredd fan comic Class of ’79, which won Best Self Published/Independent Comic at the National Comics Awards in 1999.

Drawn by Jake, the new story has been written by Judge Dredd writer Arthur Wyatt and is set in Dredd’s world 122 years in the future where genetic experimentation has given primates human speech. Heston is a smart-talking gorilla who lives in a shanty town outside the violent Mega-City One on the east coast of America. Modelling himself on Judge Dredd, Heston takes on a gang of muggers but, when they seek revenge, Heston and Dredd are forced to work together to take them down.

His partner, Deborah Ward, said: “About a year ago, Stewart burst through the front door, with a big grin on his face. Jake had just emailed over the first draft of the new Heston story and Stewart loved it. Many emails had gone back and forth since that day, and I remember Stewart proudly telling my friends about the forthcoming publication. I confess it was rather lost on them but no-one could resist getting swept along with his enthusiasm! Enjoy the strip and raise a glass to W.R. Logan, doing us proud yet again.”

His friend and artist on the story, Jake Lynch, said: “When Harry was born, we knew he was something special and it wasn't just the beer talking. To see our 'chimp-face' accepted into the pages of the Megazine was the fulfilling of an ambition both Stewart and I shared. The spin Arthur Wyatt has put on it is perfect and SO in keeping for where Harry came from. I also shared all the artwork I produced for the strip with Stewart and he gave it all the thumbs up. It saddens me to know that he won't ever see it in print but am happy to know the mighty “WR Logan” approved.”

 

 

Matt Smith, the editor of 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, said: “Harry’s a great character to add to the world of Judge Dredd and it’s a fitting tribute to one of Judge Dredd’s biggest fans. It’s a shame Stewart never got to see Harry in print, but I’m sure he’d approve.”

One of the best known fans in the British comics scene, Stewart’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Judge Dredd history led to him advising the character’s co-creator, John Wagner; this led to stories such as 2006’s Judge Dredd: Origins, which laid out the character’s origin story for the first time. In return, Wagner used Stewart’s online pseudonym of “W.R. Logan” when he created the unlucky “Judge Logan”, who has starred in several major storylines, including 2016’s Dark Justice.

During the late 1980s and early ‘90s he had served with the Queen's Own Hussars, a cavalry regiment of the British Army, and later he spent many years volunteering with the Army Cadet Force as an adult instructor. He had also previously worked for Rebellion, organising the 2000 AD archives.

Judge Dredd Megazine #376 will go on sale on 21 September from all good newsagents, priced at £5.99, as well as digitally from 2000 AD’s online shop and Apple, Android, and Windows 10 app.