Should black and white classics be re-coloured? Do we want to see Casablanca tinted so that Bogart and Bergman’s memories of Paris appear in Technicolor? Personally I believe the correct answer to be no, and I generally feel the same way about black and white comics. I have nostalgic views about those starkly inked stories from my youth, and some artwork just seems better in monochrome. David Lloyd’s chiaroscuro work on V for Vendetta is a perfect example. I was happy to see the series completed when DC picked it up but I much preferred the black and white beauty of the Warrior pages to the American coloured versions.
Now IDW comics continue their fruitful relationship with 2000AD and publish two US style floppies reprinting the original John Wagner, Alan Grant and Brian Bolland Judge Death stories. Bolland’s artwork has been coloured by Charlie Kirchoff who impressed me with his work on IDW’s lovely Apocalypse War hardback. The results are very impressive indeed and make for enjoyable comics which are available with two different covers for each issue. Of course there are always some problems with reprinting these classic 2000AD stories from the golden age of large format newsprint British comics. The artwork does not scale down perfectly to fit the US floppy page size and IDW have chosen to get around this by leaving a large bottom margin of about 5 cm of white space with some ghosted grey-scale images of Dredd along the bottom edge. And honestly I didn’t even notice it at first as my eyes were immediately drawn to the lovely sight of the beautifully coloured Bolland art.
Kirchoff’s work is generally excellent and would not look at all out of place in the pages of the Prog or Megazine. The only glitch I could spot was where he tried to add some shading to Bolland’s rather featureless representation of Anderson’s nose as she looks directly at the camera. The result makes her look a little like a six nations rugby star.
Apart from that the two issues are a joy to behold. It’s particularly impressive to have Judge Fire rendered in all his ghastly, glowing glory. The standard covers shown above are by Darick Robertson and Diego Rodriguez who bravely attempt their own version of the most famous panel in British comic history on the second issue. The two spooky variant covers are by Sam Shearon.
To answer my own question I am happy to have my cake and eat it and delight in both the original black and white versions, and in these updated full colour comics. And just how many times can we 2000AD fans buy reprints of these classic stories? Rebellion and Hachette are no doubt gambling that we will return again and again to the same well, and in my case they have been proved right. Meanwhile IDW continue to introduce US readers to delights of the Dredd world and I hope it proves to be successful for them.