Friday afternoon at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, "2000 AD" held a panel celebrating all things Judge Dredd and announced a "Dredd 3D" art book collecting all of Jock's concept art coming later this year. The panel consisted of "Dredd: Underbelly" writer Arthur Wyatt, "Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two's" Douglas Wolk, "Snapshot" artist Jock, and was moderated by "2000 AD" director of PR Michael Molcher.
Molcher opened the panel the same way he's opened every "2000 AD" panel for the past year: asking who among the audience has seen "Dredd" and then who has seen it multiple times. As usual, the entire audience lifted their hands for both questions.
Jock started things off by revealing how he became involved in "Dredd 3D." Jock said, "I was working on some concept art for an adaptation of Frank Herbert's 'Dune' when I heard the 'Dredd' movie had been green lit. I did three pieces of art for fun, for myself, and I put one of them online. A news site picked them up as official art for the new 'Dredd' movie, which was a bit worrying to say the least. I literally panicked! Because, of course, that's not cool."
"So all the news sites were saying it looked good, though, and they really wanted a decent Dredd movie," continued Jock. "It went viral and soon it was on all the news sites as official art. Then I got a call from DNA, the production company. Well, actually I got an email first and I panicked because it just said give us a call. It turned out they had seen what I had done, really liked it, and wanted me to work on the film for real. So sometimes in life you make your luck."
Molcher then announced they'll be releasing a "Dredd 3D" art book containing screenwriter Alex Garland's complete script alongside Jock's storyboards and concept art. The book will be released in limited hardback and softcover editions later this year. Jock said it will contain all his work from the movie, including multiple unused designs for Mega-City One, Dredd's lawgiver, and more. Speaking of the movie, Molcher revealed that the official petition to make a "Dredd 3D" sequel had reached 100,000 signatures.
Wyatt discussed how he was brought in to write "Underbelly," the official comic book sequel to the film. Wyatt said, "When I first saw the movie I was really blown away by it. I was sort of hoping to like it, but I wasn't prepared for how much I'd like it. So being asked to do something like ['Underbelly'] that followed up on it was an amazing honor."
Molcher moved the discussion towards Wolk's IDW Publishing mini-series "Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two," which sends Judge Dredd to the insanity of a future California. Molcher asked how Wolk, an American from Portland, came to love such an iconic UK property. Wolk said, "Probably around 1980 or so I saw an ad from Mile High Comics. It said if you send them two dollars they'd send you 20 British comics. I sent my two dollars in and I got a bunch of strange Marvel reprints and then three copies of '2000 AD.' All from the first couple of years. My mind was blown. Shortly after my family went to the UK and I was in Forbidden Planet and discovered they had about three months worth of '2000 AD' there. This was [legendary 'Dredd' saga] 'The Apocalypse War.' Great timing. That was me at age twelve. When we got back to the States I went to my comic store and asked them to get it for me any way they could. I promised I'd buy it every single week. And I have. Forever."
Molcher asked the panel how they think 'Dredd 3D' helped change the perception of the character in the United States. Wolk said, "It certainly made a lot of people here more open to finding out about the character and where he came from. That's a start."
Jock told anyone in the audience who hadn't yet discovered '2000 AD' that "it is a book that if you pick it up when you're young it'll blow the back of your head off and make you want to do comics for the rest of your life. That's what it is to me."
Molcher added, "It will give you some kind of mental delusion that [comics] are a path worth taking. Poverty follows."
The panel listed some of their favorite "2000 AD" comics besides Judge Dredd including "ABC Warriors," "Slaine" and "The Ballad of Halo Jones." Jock said, "'Halo Jones' is the best thing '2000 AD' ever published and it's written by a guy named Alan Moore."
Wyatt agreed, calling "Halo Jones" his favorite Moore work of all time, and Molcher even admitted to openly weeping as a 13-year old boy because he was so moved by the heroine's adventures.
Wyatt recommended "Loki: Agent of Asgard" writer Al Ewing and "Underbelly" artist Henry Flint's "Zombo" as one of his favorite contemporary "2000 AD" comics.
Jock added "Midnight Surfer" to the list of must-read "2000 AD" stories and revealed hero Chopper was planned for the "Dredd 3D" sequel. Jock said, "I did a bit of concept art for Chopper, as well, that was to be the opening of the second movie."
Wolk's pick for his favorite current "2000 AD" strip was "2000 AD" creator Pat Mills' "Savage." It's an alien invasion story "about the resistance once the resistance has already failed."
Molcher then opened the panel up to questions from the floor.
Someone asked whether "2000 AD" had plans to revive "Dan Dare," one of the magazine's original strips from its 1977 debut. Molcher said, "None whatsoever, I'm afraid. It's owned by the Dan Dare Corporation and let's just leave it at that, shall we."
A recent "Dredd" convert whose only experience with the character so far was the film and last year's Free Comic Book Day one-shot asked what the best books to read were for new fans. Wyatt recommended jumping in with the current issue of "2000 AD" for modern stuff and also grabbing "Judge Dredd: Case Files 05" and "Judge Dredd: Origins" for the character's best classic stories.
Jock recommend he also check out "Judge Dredd: America," "Graveyard Shift" and "Midnight Surfer."
Wyatt revealed "Underbelly," which picked up the adventures of Karl Urban's film Dredd, is "not just a one-shot. There is another story. I don't know when it will be appearing in the 'Judge Dredd Megazine' but it is a slightly longer story called 'Dredd: Uprise' and the artist on that one will be Paul Davidson."
Molcher said that "Uprise" would start later this year and would also be released as a US format comic.
A videogame player asked if "2000 AD" parent company Rebellion had any plans for more "Rogue Trooper" videogames. Molcher said there were no plans at the moment, but that people should let Rebellion president Jason Kingsley know they want more "Trooper" games via Twitter.
A fan asked how the panel decides which "version" of Dredd to use in stories, given the character's strips range from comedy to horror to even musicals. Jock said, "The thing about Dredd is that he can be anything in any story. He can be a hero, a villain, a threat, or the person you want by your side. He's actually very malleable. You can tell lots of different stories around him.
Wolk added, "He's a great catalyst. You can use him for just about everything."
Wyatt went on, "That's the sign of a good character, when many different story types can be told around him."
Finally, Jock addressed the similarities many people noticed between the plots of "Dredd 3D" and "The Raid: Redemption." Jock said, "The fact that 'The Raid' and 'Dredd' had a similar plot was a total coincidence. It was almost weird how similar they were. It was a shame because people kept saying it. I mean 'The Raid' is a spectacular film, but it's a different film to 'Dredd.' 'Dredd' had a long post-production and 'The Raid' happened in that time. People use it as an excuse to write 'Dredd' off and it's a shame. 'The Raid 2' comes out soon, funnily enough, and I did the poster for it in the UK."