Fans who attended Dredd and Beyond: The Whole Wide World of "2000 AD" panel at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo weren't shy about sharing their excitement and enthusiasm for the British mainstay, and their energy peaked whenever Michael Molcher, Head of PR, threw random copies of "Judge Dredd" comics to fans.
The panel was made up of Molcher, "2000 AD" and "Judge Dredd Megazine" writer Mike Carroll, former "2000 AD" editor and writer Andy Diggle, the Comics Beat's Heidi MacDonald and Paul Cornell, another former "Judge Dredd Megazine" writer.
Asked her assessment as a journalist about the push of "2000 AD" and Dredd stateside, MacDonald called "2000 AD" a "revered brand." MacDonald confessed that she originally thought Judge Dredd was been character that's been around for much longer than he has -- to around Queen Victoria's reign, to be exact, to which Paul Cornell quipped, "Steam Punk Dredd would be AWESOME!" She spoke of the characters legacy and how today's work hearkens back to the '80s "British Invasion" that included such prolific powerhouses as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison, people which MacDonald claimed "changed American comics."
As a long time reader of the print book, Cornell was asked what he thought of "2000 AD" being available on the iPad on the day of release. "It's tremendous," the writer was quick to reply. "I get a wonderful science fiction anthology at exactly the right length for a quick read on my commute, just appearing magically. It makes it so easy to subscribe." He also explained that it compliments the setup of the 30+ year old book by making it easy to "sample" different types of stories as new ones are out every week. "If you don't like one, another one will be along in a minute!" He also praised "2000 AD" as "the only guys who aren't on comiXology, but like a sensible magazine, are on the Apple Newsstand where magazines are. Where people can just happen to come across them, instead of downloading a specific app, repeating all of the comics industry mistakes digitally, as they repeated them physically. My goodness! Well done with that."
Andy Diggle spoke about how he's "hearing more and more people talk about ['2000 AD']," explaining that while it's a huge, landmark series in the UK he called "the foundation that everything has been built on for the past three decades," comic fans in the US "think it's just this crappy Stallone movie. That particular perception is starting to change." He also praised current "2000 AD" editor Matt Smith on the different types of storytelling in the current "2000 AD" series. Molcher noted that at thirteen years and counting, Smith is the longest running editor of the magazine.
Current "Judge Dredd" writer Mike Carroll was next to discuss what he's been up to. Since the events of the mega event "Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos," the population of Mega City One went from about 400 million to around 50 million. Carroll joked that main "Judge Dredd" writer John Wagner likes to mess with other people writing Dredd, leaving the other writers to "pick up the pieces" of his stories. Carroll's next six-part story, "The Forsaken," kicks off in May and features two "little twists" that "change the game for everybody else." He spoke of an upcoming "Judge Dredd" story written by Wagner and illustrated by Dave Taylor, who recently drew the Batman graphic novel "Batman: Death by Design," while "Scalped" artist R.M. Guera is going to be drawing his first -- and hopefully not last -- Judge Dredd story, written by Rob Williams.
MacDonald was asked about what she thought the effects were of non-British creators working on "Judge Dredd" leading MacDonald to speak once again about the influence British comic writers have had on comics overall. She believes creators around the world have developed an almost "global comics style" and believes it's time American creators "returned the favor" with regard to the influence British creators have had on the rest of the world. When she found out that IDW was creating "Judge Dredd' comics in America, she joked, "I didn't think that was legal."
Diggle spoke about how the internet has helped the industry tremendously, providing the ability to work with creators from around the globe, though it does present its challenges. Diggle recounted a funny story about a script calling for someone in Mega City One to be strangled by a cheese-wire. Apparently the artist didn't know what that was and ended up drawing someone being strangled by a piece of cheese. "It's Mega City One. That kind of stuff happens."
Asked what artist they would love to see draw a "2000 AD" story, Diggle thought about it for a second and responded "Mike Mignola, Chris Sprouse, Jim Cheung. Danijel Žeželj." Paul Cornell added "Ryan Kelly, Fiona Staples." MacDonald asked "What about Brandon Graham? Ulises Farinas." Carroll responded "Esteban Maroto," noting that he'd love to see "Bone" creator Jeff Smith do a Judge Dredd story "just to see what he could do with it."
2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Pat Mills' "Slaine The Barbarian" and Mills returns to the character to celebrate with a short series titled "The Book of Scars" which Mike McMahon, Glenn Fabry and Simon Bisley will be drawing. It will be released around August or September.
Molcher asked the audience who has seen the "Judge Dredd" movie. When a fan asked, "Which one?" Molcher yelled, "Get out!" and pointed to the door to the amusement of the audience.
Everyone on the panel sang the praises of the recent "DREDD 3D" film, which Cornell called a "tremendous balancing act" in that it had "all of the fan pleasing stuff which really suited an action movie." He also noted that it still had that great black humor "2000 AD" is known for. IDW teased a comic sequel to "DREDD" movie a few weeks back, and it was announced that it will debut in "Judge Dredd Megazine" in September, a year after the film was released. The team working on the book will be announced "a bit closer to San Diego Comic Con."
Asked what other "2000 AD" characters they'd like to see on film, Paul Cornell immediately said Slaine, Andy Diggle responded, "All of 'em. Olivia Thirlby would make a great Halo Jones." Caroll mused that "ABC Warriors" would make a great cartoon.
A fan asked about plans for any type of miniature tabletop gaming releases that feature "2000 AD" characters and was told that 35mm and 75mm tabletop figurines would soon be available via Dark World Creations. Cornell mentioned that he wants to see 'Judge Dredd" action figures while Caroll would like to see a new "Judge Dredd" board game. Andy Diggle commented on how great a Judge Dredd game in the style of "Red Dead Redemption" would be.
A fan asked if there were any plans to do any online short films ala the unofficial Punisher film "Dirty Laundry." There are currently no plans, as Lionsgate owns the rights. And while they aren't officially able to give blessings to fan films, they do enjoy them.
The final question was about how they are going to deal with the fact that "Judge Dredd" ages in real time in the comic, since in a couple of years he will be pushing 80 or 90. Cornell stated quite eloquently, "Killing Dredd and meaning it would be a tremendous indication of quality on '2000 AD's' part.
"He's gotta die on the streets," Diggle stated. "One day John Wagner is gonna want to retire from comics, and I think that's when Dredd is gonna take a bullet."
"I think when Dredd dies," Carroll said, "he'll die for good."