Lawgiver Mk II – a very biased review (with apologies to dozens of people who probably should get a mention but haven’t)
I apologise for the delay in posting this up. My only excuse is I have been suffering what I can only describe as the worst case of post-con blues ever. Seriously, it floored me, for so long and to such an extent I thought I had actually slipped into a bout of clinical depression.
I’ve bounced back though (mostly) and can now present to you my report on that event of events in the crazy mixed up world of Judge Dredd – Lawgiver Mk II!!
Blimey, what a weekend! I’ll do my best to describe the day, but I will warn you I am biased, being someone involved a little in the organising of the event and being a moderator of one of the panels (more on that later).
Also, I’m afraid this post may come across as a little Judge Pal-centric (sorry!).
The con itself was on Bank Holiday Monday 25th May, but to be honest for me it started long before that. You see, I had four special guests coming to stay with me at my new place – PR Judges Lemmy and Court, plus Lee Fields and Steve Rogers. All of us were looking forward to a night out in Cardiff, though Lee and Steve had to get over to Bristol the following day to set up their stand.
Once I’d sorted out their sleeping arrangements we thought it best to bring in about £40,000 worth of Dredd movie props from Lee’s car (more on this later), due to me living in Cardiff’s demilitarised zone. Sadly there was only room for them in my bedroom. I knew those wet wipes would come in handy…
Anyway, we had our night out, and were met by Batman aficionado Ben Wilson, and also 2012 Judge Dave Purcell, at Fuel Nightclub on Womanby Street.
I will only say three things about the night – the booze flowed, Metal played, and we rolled in at 6am. This pic will give you some indication of the mayhem.
Posting this up on Facebook turned out to be a mistake on the part of Lee, as his better-half spotted it, and commented: ‘Erm, so I see you are working hard Mr Lee Fields, while I take care of our two girls, the dog, and the house!’
The following morning the guys waited patiently for me to come round, soothing their sore heads with plenty of tea and This is Spinal Tap. I descended just in time to hear the immortal words ‘NO, we’re not gonna do fucking Stonehenge!’
We helped Lee load his car up, and waved him off, wondering how the hell he could drive considering he could barely figure out his iPhone charger 15 mins earlier. Then Judges Court and Lemmy accompanied me into town to check out some Dr Who sights
look around the museum
and clear our heads in the fresh air of the Taff Trail.
Then it was onto a train to Bristol for another famous Dredd Screening Drinking Club (DSDC) gathering at the Grain Barge. Those cats sure know how to party! Every new arrival got a cheer bigger than the last, and our gathering got so large you could feel the barge tipping up at one end.
It started off in a lovely friendly fashion, but as the crowd grew and the alcohol flowed it got very busy and rowdy – great fun! No doubt we annoyed the regulars, but heigh ho, Dredd fans get together so irregularly it had to be done.
It was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with everyone and get to know a few new faces, plus at least one charming ankle!
The Judges even mingled with the Perps.
Lemmy, Court and I had to catch the last train back to Cardiff, but this turned out to be a very good thing. We only had time for about six pints, meaning an earlyish night, and only stinking slightly of booze when we hit Bristol with all our gear the following day.
And then the fun REALLY began!
Wow, where to start! Fair play to Su Haddrell and everyone else, this was a huge step up from the previous years event! Nearly double the guests, double the traders, more rooms, a very polished and professional venue, a well organised set of panels and even an area with great lighting reserved for Judges and punters alike to chill and have some photos taken.
The crowds eagerly gathered for it all to begin.
Su Haddrell arrived on stage, and talked us through the itinerary, to much applause and cheers from the audience.
Then Su played a very ‘special’ message, recorded by Dave Court at the Sci-Fi Weekender:
We had a variety of rooms to use. There were two ‘interrogation rooms’ for the panels, one with a nice screen displaying the programme, and with some props, the other a nice board room neatly laid out with audience chairs and a roomy desk at the front for guests. Another large room housed Lee’s Bawzprops display of Dredd 3D uniforms, guns, slo-mo inhalers, and even a Jock concept lid, and first draft build of Dredd’s uniform.
This room also had competitions for raffle tickets. For example, fork out a couple of quid and you could take a pop at perps in a block war with a nerf gun. Folk pumped tons of money into games surrounding the raffle, largely because of the incredible generosity of Planet Replicas, who donated amongst many other things one of the last remaining plated Dredd badges, and an actual Mk II Lawgiver! Everyone is truly grateful for this, as takings on the raffle alone have almost guaranteed a Lawgiver III is going to take place.
The room next door housed the guests who sketched away and met the punters, in between doing the various panels. These included Pete Doherty, Nick Percival, Rob Williams, Ryan Brown and more! This was also a great opportunity for Dave Roach to show off his collection of artwork. It included this cracking Brendan McCarthy piece.
The story behind this is apparently Brendan couldn’t get tickets for a big comic-con in Sydney. His solution was to paint this, wander up to the doors, and say ‘I’m a Dredd artist dontchaknow, and you can have this if you let me in.’ So they did! See, it’s not what you know, but who you can draw!
Last but by no means least, it was with great distaste Judge Pal encountered that subversive John Higgins disseminating his anti-Judge propaganda once again. Needless to say words were said, and sentence passed.
There was also a room full of a variety of merch, Dredd and otherwise. Forbidden Planet was here, along with some independent traders, a mini-comic store, and a large display table full of homemade 2000AD props.
It was here that David Broughton resided, plying his trade with some crazy Shaman Kane deals. As you may know, Mr Broughton entertained us in the days leading up to Lawgiver Mk II with a new Dredd-themed sketch every day. Judge Pal inspected his personage but let him of with a reprimand for inciting awesomeness.
Time to chat a bit more about the panels I think. I only ‘saw’ two – one hosted by the delectable Iz McAuliffe on the depiction of women in 2000AD and Judge Dredd, and one called ‘Question Time: Is Justice Dept a force for Good or Evil?’ which was hosted by yours truly. Here’s the full programme, all of which I understand went down really well:
Iz’s panel was very interesting, with an almost apologist view, given David Roach is very well known for his sexy sketches of Vampirella, and Michael Carroll making it very clear from a special t-shirt that he was sorry for being a man on a panel talking about women. Peter Doherty on the other hand was especially unabashed when putting across his points regarding it being about story and character, as opposed to the size of a pair of breasts, noting in particular Mrs Gunderson, whom he and Wagner based on their own mums. Awww.
The panel ended with a Q&A session. Here an interesting point was raised by Federation Security Senior Red Shirt Burdis. He was concerned that everyone seemed up in arms about the physical appearance of spandex clad ladies in comics, yet no-one batted an eyelid about muscular and bizarrely proportioned men. Pete Doherty answered this well, when he noted most women seemed to be drawn for titillation, whereas the men were all drawn in ‘power poses’ or in a position of dominance over women, so there was good reason for women to question that.
I was glad I’d seen This is Spinal Tap beforehand, as this little scene put it all in perspective (too much fucking perspective!):
David: Well the point is it's much worse than 'Smell the Glove'...he releases that he's number three. Ian: Because he's the victim. Their objections were that she was the victim. You see? Derek: I see.... Nigel: Oh... David: Ah.... Ian: That's alright, if the singer's the victim, it's different. It's not sexist. Nigel: He did a twist on it. A twist and it s- Derek: He did, he did. He turned it around. Ian: We shoulda thought of that.... David: We were so close.... Ian: I mean if we had all you guys tied up, that probably woulda been fine. All: Ah....
Anyway, Iz had to step in and get Burdis under control with a very direct ‘You’ve asked four questions now Burdis – it’s someone else’s turn.’ Dontcha love strong women? It was an entertaining end to an interesting panel.
I was also lucky enough to have Michael Carroll and Pete Doherty on my panel, alongside Rob Williams and Nick Percival. I was thrown a curveball right from the outset with Pete exclaiming ‘Is this serious?! I don’t know if I should take this seriously or not?’ Thankfully someone delivered a pizza to him in time for the other guests and I to set the tone while he stuffed his face for a bit.
The conversation veered from the methods of control Justice Department employed, to how our citizenry would fare under such a police state, onto how our latest government seemed to be using Justice Department as a role model, and including some choice words about Democracy and how the voters of Mega City One compared to voters of America just prior to the Reagan administration.
Somehow or other the panel guests managed to keep a discussion about a brutal totalitarian regime light and airy, until Judge Pal got the nod that time was up. I finished with the all important question, and asked them to answer with one word: Justice Department – Good or Evil? Nick Percival warily answered ‘goodish’, but for the other guests it was an almost universal ‘Evil.’ This was the cue for a squad of Judges to storm in and haul those three subversives away, while I asked for a round of applause for our panel.
Anyway, I’m pleased to say my first ever job as a moderator seemed to have gone down well. I had some lovely feedback from various folk as I stomped around idly tapping my daystick in hand.
Right, I’ve said enough about me. Now it’s time for you to talk about me!
Just kidding – it’s time for me to tell you all about the amazing punters who came dressed in a wide variety of Judge or Law related regalia. I can’t promise I won’t pop up in these pics, but hopefully you’ll get an idea of how varied and enjoyable it was.
First up we have some shots of the PR Judges in full ‘swing’, including one I hadn’t met before, martial artist extraordinaire, John Lau:
The following two pics give you an indication about how popular the 2012 kit was, the first being an erstwhile group shot later in the day:
And the second being our attempt to find Abbey Road:
Also there was the rather excellent Judge Death costume, ably executed by Mike Lloyd. I’m going to use the following pic to give a big shout-out to Bartosz Nowicki, who took it, and who is organising the Judgement in Cardiff artwork show in September.
More info here:
It was most excellent to see so many uniformed women too. In fact, there may have been just as many female perps as Judges! The following pictures are by no means exhaustive, but give you a feel for what I mean:
It is pleasing to me that the Judges above were wearing their uniform as per regulation, even DeMarco.
I’m sure I have missed mentioning loads of awesome folk, and if that is the case (which I know it is) I do apologise. Also, the words and pics above just don’t even begin to scrape the surface of the costumes at the event, how pleasant and welcoming the guests were, and just how professionally the event was run. A massive thanks to Su Haddrell, without whom none of this would have been possible. Thank you Su!
You can get even more of a feel for how well the event went if you visit the Lawgiver Mk II Citizen’s Group, found here:
At the end of every event comes the post-con drinks. We hit a Wetherspoons for food, where Buttonman and Bad City Blue (2000AD forum regulars) decided to write missives to Tharg on the back of the ‘Mexican Mondays’ menus. Then it was back to the hotel bar for last orders, and an opportunity for me and my top nark to get this cracking pic with Jock, one of the crowd-pullers of the day:
We eventually staggered off to bed, or floor in my case, thanks to the hospitality of moderator Steve Hargrett, who gave me a place to crash. A short kip and a fried breakfast later and I was heading back to Cardiff, reality, a short high, and then a nearly week long depression. This was heightened when this video, filmed at Lawgiver Mk II, served to remind me just how incredibly bad my acting and Yorkshire accent is:
In summary, what an amazing event that was. A wee bird (or maybe an eagle epaulet) tells me Lawgiver Mk II did so well that Lawgiver Mk III is almost 100% guaranteed next year. If you couldn’t make this one, I entreat you to make the next – it’ll be LAWsome!!! (sorry)