(CBR) Saturday afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego, IDW Publishing and “2000 AD” publisher Rebellion came together to hold a joint panel celebrating all things Judge Dredd.
The panel, moderated by Judge Dredd historian Douglas Wolk, consisted of Ulises Farinas ( “Judge Dredd: City of Courts” artist), Duane Swierczynski (IDW’s “Judge Dredd” writer), Henry Flint ( “2000 AD’s” “Judge Dredd” artist), John Higgins (“Judge Dredd” & “Before Watchmen” artist), Chris Ryall (Editor-in-Chief of IDW Publishing), Ben Smith (publishing manager for Rebellion), Michael Molcher (PR coordinator for Rebellion) and Keith Richardson (graphic novels editor for Rebellion).
Chris Ryall started the panel saying that “2000 AD” should have won the Eisner Award for best anthology the previous night, the award instead going to “Dark Horse Presents.” “‘2000 AD’ has been such a great anthology for so long that their recognition is far overdue,” Ryall said. “One of these days!”
Wolk then took charge of the panel to walk the crowd through current and upcoming projects.
Swierczynski revealed his upcoming “Into the Cursed Earth” story beginning in IDW’s “Judge Dredd” #9 will heavily feature the new mutant character Dannn [sic], who uses his three eyes to see three potential futures: bad, worse and bizarre. “He’s Dredd’s unlikely partner in his upcoming adventures.”
Dredd will also visit a twisted amusement park in the storyline, which is Swierczynski’s homage to noir crime writer Daniel Woodrow. “It’s my tribute to him. It’s backwoods noir stuff,” Swierczynski said. “There is one thing sequence which poor Nelson [Daniel] had to draw which I’m pretty sure any search he did online for research got him on the NSA watchlist.”
A cover image was shown with Swierczynski’s version of classic UK Judge Dredd villains the Angel Gang, including leader Mean Machine.
Another upcoming IDW Judge Dredd project is “Mars Attacks Judge Dredd,” by “2000 AD” Dredd writer Al Ewing and “Hitman” artist John McCrea. “Greg Staples did this image for [a variant cover of] ‘Mars Attacks Judge Dredd’ and everybody was like, ‘Oh my god, that is so good. We should do this as a series,'” Ryall explained. “So we are doing this as a series. We listen to our fans.”
Ryall then announced the panel’s moderator, Douglas Wolk, as the writer of upcoming mini-series, “Judge Dredd: City of Courts,” with Ulises Farinas on pencils. “Mega-City Two being what happens when the very large traffic snarl of Los Angeles metastasizes to take over the entire state of California and is all that is left of the US West Coast,” Wolk said. “It’s going to be amazing!”
Other “2000 AD” projects at IDW include a deluxe hardcover edition of Cam Kennedy’s “Judge Dredd” work and a reprint series of Dan Abnett’s sci-fi hitman adventure series “Sinister Dexter.” Rebellion PR coordinator Michael Molcher described the series as “‘Pulp Fiction’ in the future. An Irishman with a red nose and a guy with a TV screen in his eye.”
Ryall then made the biggest announcement of the panel: IDW will publish an ongoing series based on “2000 AD” title “Rogue Trooper” sometime next year. Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons created “Rogue Trooper” back in 1981. It follows the adventures of a blue-skinned genetically modified soldier whose entire platoon is slaughtered on the war-torn planet NuEarth, forcing him to become an army of one.
In addition to the new series, Ryall said IDW plans to bring out the original “Rogue Trooper” stories from “2000 AD” in recolored collections.
Rebellion graphics novel editor Keith Richardson then pointed out that “Rogue Trooper” predates “Watchmen,” also by Dave Gibbons, and asked “Watchmen” cover artist John Higgins, “Did Dave run out of character designs when he came up with Dr. Manhattan? Cause he looks very much like Rogue!”
The panel then switched gears to the “2000 AD” portion of the afternoon. Publishing manager Ben Smith and Molcher went over some of the comics coming to “2000 AD,” including “Slaine: Book of Scars: Sky Chariots” by Pat Mills and Mick McMahon, “Brass Sun: The Diamond Age” by Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard, “Damnation Station II” by Al Ewing and Mark Harrison, “Flesh: Badlanders” by Pat Mills and James McKay, and “Strontium Dog: Dogs of War” by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra.
Also coming soon to “2000 AD” is “Ulysses Sweet: Maniac for Hire” by writer Guy Adams and artist Paul Marshall. “Ulysses Sweet” was created for “2000 AD” in the ’80s by Grant Morrison and revolves around a sociopath who hires himself out as a hitman.
Smith also went over some of the stories coming to “2000 AD” sister magazine “Judge Dredd Megazine,” including the creator-owned “Ordinary” by Rob Williams and D’Israeli about what happens when everybody in the world gets superpowers except one ordinary guy. It begins in “Megazine” issue 340. “The creator-owned slot is something of a gem,” said Smith. “We have an extraordinary wealth of talent tucked away there.”
Other titles that have debuted in the “Megazine’s” creator-owned slot include “Snapshot” by Andy Diggle and Jock, and “Numbercruncher” by Si Spurrier and PJ Holden.
“Dredd: Underbelly” by Arthur Wyatt and Henry Flint, starts in “Megazine” issue 340 and serves as the official comic sequel to the “Dredd” film starring Karl Urban. Molcher asked the audience, “Who’s seen the Dredd movie?” and every hand in the room went up. He then asked, “Who’s seen it more than five times?” and every hand in the room went up again. “Dredd: Underbelly” artist Henry Flint described the tone of the story saying, “With the original John Wagner [‘Judge Dredd’] stories, there’s a lot of text. So what we’re gonna do is strip that bare and have a story that is told quite like the movie, so it’s frantic. You jump from panel to panel with very little text and you have the feeling like you’re in a movie watching it. It’s gonna be gritty. It’s gonna be great.”
Molcher than announced that Rebellion would be officially endorsing the fan-run Facebook campaign “Make a DREDD sequel.” The campaign currently has over 30,000 supporters. Molcher said, “We’ll be supporting it with print ads and online. What you should immediately do is go to the page on Facebook and give it a like. We’ll also be setting up an official petition. I don’t see too many of you on your phones signing the official petition yet! The only way [“Dredd’s”] gonna come back is if you support [the film] and spread the word.”
Wolk then opened the panel up to questions from the audience.
A fan wanted to know if any panel members thought that any “Judge Dredd” fan-fiction or fan-art was good. Molcher said, “My favorite is Kev Lev, who did the entire ‘2000 AD’ universe as Lego figures.”
“There’s a also a picture by Jolyon B. Yates of Judge Dredd as a Lego figure with the four Dark Judges in the background,” continued Molcher. “That’s one of our most liked Facebook photos.”
Ryall added, “He just did that as a fan and sent it to me and now I’ve got him doing some other work for us.”
Wolk’s favorite fan-fiction was Al Ewing’s “Ultimate Future Shock.” He said, “It’s one of the ‘Future Shocks,’ that always have twist endings in ‘2000 AD,’ that manages to get in every twist ending ever.”
Smith added they first noticed Ewing through his work in the “2000 AD” fan-fiction magazine “Zarjaz,” and Ewing’s now writing comics for “2000 AD,” Dynamite, IDW and Marvel.
A question asked if IDW planned to bring any of the sillier early Judge Dredd elements into the book, like his robot butler Walter the Wobot. Swierczynski had no current plans for the character, but said, “I’m having so much fun creating new characters that I forget, oh yeah, I have so many great characters I could use.”
In addition to “Dredd,” IDW will be porting over another “2000 AD” series for a U.S. ongoing with “Rogue Trooper”
Someone wanted to know if it was hard to retain Judge Dredd’s Britishness in the IDW series. “IDW’s proven that they can take other people’s characters and treat them with respect, integrity and imagination,” Smith said.
A video game player asked if Rebellion plan to bring out any new “Rogue Trooper” or “Judge Dredd” video games soon. Smith said there were no new “Rogue Trooper” games planned but they did just release the freemium game “Judge Dredd vs. Zombies” for iOS and Android phones.
A man commented on the irony of IDW being told that their “Judge Dredd” isn’t British enough, considering the character is a parody of American culture. He also wanted to know if the IDW Dredd will travel to England soon. “We want to get well established before we start making fun of our neighbors!” Ryall joked.
Smith informed the same fan that Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill’s classic “Nemesis” would be returning in deluxe, recolored editions. “Kevin O’Neill colored ‘Nemesis’ [for ‘2000 AD’ in the ’90s] and quietly added in extra panels. They were never put in the collections, they were just put in floppy comics, so we’re collecting them into a special edition hardback which comes out in September.”
Wolk answered a question about the undercover Wally Squad, revealing that Dredd himself is going undercover in “Judge Dredd: City of Courts.”
Someone asked what went wrong with the “Dredd” film’s reception last year. Ryall answered, “The film never went wrong at all. The film was great. I feel like the marketing didn’t quite sell it. I feel like that damn Stallone’s shadow was too large. You never know what’s gonna make a movie work or not work. But I think that the fact that it hit on Blu-Ray and hit in a big way means that people are still discovering it.”
Farinas joked, “I just thought he wore his helmet too much!”
Molcher asked the audience who bought “Dredd” on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital, with lots of hands going up for each. “I didn’t see some hands go up. I think you know what you need to do!” Molcher said.
Finally, the panel closed with Smith telling a fan that there are no plans for any new versions of Alan Moore’s sci-fi humor series “D.R. & Quinch.”
“Judge Dredd” is available monthly from IDW Publishing and “2000 AD” is available weekly from Rebellion.