I stumbled across a brand new copy of this book in the antiques shop for a mere £2 and couldn’t resist the lure of a great Mike McMahon cover. Written by Colin Karman and Peter Acton and published in 1995 to tie in with the expected upsurge of interest from the Stallone movie.
Obviously this history of Dredd’s creation and his development as a character is somewhat out of date now but it makes for an interesting read as another Mega project to collect the best of Dredd gathers speed. Featuring interviews with all the key editors and creators this well written book details the various factors affecting British comics in the late 1970s including the controversy raised by Action. From there the story progresses with the familiar tales of Mills, Wagner and Ezquerra’s initial concepts for the strip, and the convoluted back and forth that led to that first episode in Prog 2.
The authors detail the development of Dredd’s character concentrating on the epics that defined him and his world and set many of the rules and concepts that still affect him today. In terms of longevity and impact on popular culture it is probably fair to say that Dredd has now outstripped Dan Dare as the most important single character in British comics history, so it is nice too have a book looking at just his stories from the pages of 2000AD.
There are lots of illustrations from the Prog including covers and full pages of art, as well as concept sketches and visual details. The creators are given plenty of room to tell their own stories and it all generates a certain amount of nostalgia for those early days of the comic with young artists coming in off the streets and establishing their place in the pantheon.
And, of course, a book about the development of Judge Dredd also becomes a history of John Wagner. His impact on the last 40 years of British comics can not be underestimated and this book does him justice.
Overall, this was a great read even though it is now 20 years old, and makes a good companion piece to Thrill Power Overload. There are still copies out there on Amazon marketplace and it’s well worth tracking down.