Comics have seized center stage at the venerable British Library in London this summer in an exhibition celebrating the history of British comics and the work of British creators. Subtitled, 'Art and Anarchy in the UK', the Comics Unmasked exhibition places an emphasis on protest, outsider culture, and anti-authoritarian voices.
Curated by Adrian Edwards, Paul Gravett, and John Harris Dunning, Comics Unmasked draws heavily on the British Library's own collection to establish and define Britain's relationship to the comics art form -- stirring up nostalgia, scandal, and some surprising discoveries along the way. And Kieron Gillen's giant head.
2012's Dredd, based on the long-running comic about the stone-faced lawman of the future from the pages of 2000 AD, was essentially Die Hard in one of Mega City One's towering city blocks, which is to say that it was completely awesome. Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby's performances as Judges Dredd and Anderson, respectively, were fantastic, and left both long-time Dredd readers and new fans wanting to see more from them, which is why Arthur Wyatt and Henry Flint provided a comic book sequel set in the world of the movie called Underbelly, where Dredd had to tackle a new drug that gave crooks the ability to see into the future.
Underbelly was a pretty huge success. The first and second printings both sold out at the distributor level, and this October, it's getting a third, featuring a new cover by artist Trevor Hairsine.
Since they acquired the license for Judge Dredd, IDW has been doing some pretty fantastic stuff with it. Between Duane Swiercynski and Nelson Daniel's ongoing Judge Dredd and miniseries projects like Douglas Wolk and Ulises Farinas's Mega-City Two, they've put out some incredibly entertaining stories, bringing Dredd to a new audience that may not be familiar with his roots in the pages of 2000 AD. Now they're expanding the line beyond Dredd himself.
IDW announced this week that they're launching Anderson: Psi Division, a new series set before the events of the ongoing series that will focus on Judge Cassandra Anderson, written by 2000 AD editor Matt Smith with art by long-time 2000 AD artist Carl Critchlow.
One of the things that I've really come to appreciate ever since I jumped into the world of Judge Dredd is just how easy 2000 AD has made it. The publisher's got massive reprints of Dredd from the very beginning; they've got downloadable digital comics that are easy to buy (and that you can actually keep like any other downloaded file); and they're putting out compilations built around themes that can give to the start of a pretty comprehensive overview of Dredd history. Basically, it has never been easier to read 200 pages of comics about people having sex with robots.
That is, more or less, the subject matter of Judge Dredd: The XXX Files, the new collection on sale this week which compiles two dozen stories that take the concept of Thrillpower into a decidedly adult direction. And while I'm not sure if it's a great place for people who are brand new to Dredd's world -- it's more than a little overwhelming at times -- it has a bunch of truly fantastic comics.
Q: You said something a few days ago about the genius of Judge Dredd's design--can you talk more about this? -- @lifeinsuper8
A: Can I! Regular readers of Ask Chris might recalll that it was only a couple of weeks ago that I, along with artist Erica Henderson, got into a discussion of what makes a great "iconic" superhero costume. You can flip back through that one if you'd like, but the short version is that the best costumes in comics tend to be simple and well-defined, getting across a lot of information with a very streamlined look. Generally speaking, the more unnecessary gimmicks you add to a suit, the more distracting it gets, and the less it says about the character, and I think that holds true across the board when it comes to superheroes.
But then you get to Judge Dredd, and all those rules go flying straight into the Iso-Cubes, where they're locked up and never, ever let out.
Kudos to Rebellion for the imminent publication of its 350th issue of Judge Dredd Megazine, the monthly Dredd comic that began all the way back in 1990 (and which might actually be the longest unbroken run of any comic book in these renumbered times in which we live, come to think about it). To celebrate the occasion, venerable Dredd artist Brian Bollandreturns to one of his signature characters with a special cover featuring the titular lawman and the fabulous cast of villains that have helped make the megazine a success for 24 years. It's within that spirit of historical observance that Bolland is cheekily riffing on his own great work from Rebellion's past by basing his Megazine cover on an illustration he created for 1985's 2000 AD Monthly #1.
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
Emma Beeby has written various different kinds of projects including speeches, film, games, horoscopes, and audioplays. She wrote Risen 2: Dark Waters, a game that was nominated for a Writers Guild Award, as well as a Doctor Who audioplay. Her comics work includes Judge Dredd, making her the first female writer in the character's history.
Judge Dredd: Mega City Two, in which Douglas Wolk and Ulises Farinas are chronicling the stone-faced lawman's trip out west to the City of Courts that used to be Los Angeles, has already been one of the most fun comics on the stands in just the first issue. Next week's installment, however, takes it to an entirely new, entirely ridiculous level, as Dredd hits the beach for "Beach Blanket Justice" and ends up encountering a giant mutated atomic shrimp that's going to seriously damage tourism. And that's just on page two -- and it's the least of Dredd's problems with post-nuclear California.
And if that wasn't enough to get you excited? There is a pretty amazing joke about LA-based plagiarist Shia LaBeouf some guy in here. Check out a preview and watch for it below!
Since its launch in 2012, IDW's Judge Dredd series has served as a great introduction to the character for new readers, while also expanding on the story of Mega-City One's most notable protector in a way longtime readers can enjoy. That can be a difficult balance to maintain, but creators Duane Swierczynski and Nelson Daniel have been up to the task so far, with new stories in the universe of what writer Swierczynski recently described to ComicsAlliance as "the ultimate police procedural."
And the creative team isn't done yet. Far from it, in fact. The upcoming story may be their most ambitious yet, as the two are set to reintroduce the Dark Judges into their series. Further, in addition to Judge Death, Mortis, Fire and Fear, the duo are introducing new Dark Judges in next month's Judge Dredd #17.
One such character is the as-yet-unrevealed Judge Burroughs. IDW has provided ComicsAlliance with a first look at the new Dredd antagonist, which you can check out below.
If catching Dredd cringe through traffic jams trapped in a civilian-grade car and dispatching perps with hilariously-nonlethal weaponry was your cup of tea in Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two#1 last month, you'll be pleased to know the ultimate comic book character culture-shock continues this week in issue#2 by writer Douglas Wolk, artist Ulises Farinas and colorist Ryan Hill. This time around Dredd's finally gotten his hands on a proper bike, but at the cost of going deep undercover to infiltrate some surprisingly talented biker gangs in the name of solid reality television. Oh, and justice?
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