Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It's Dredd Good!

It came as a nice surprise to find that there's a plug for this site in the pages of the new Judge Dredd Megazine (No.255, £2.99). "Excellent comics blog" sez Matthew Badham. Therefore in the spirit of mutual back-slapping here's a reciprocal plug from me for the latest Meg.

For my money, the Judge Dredd Megazine is now better than it's ever been. No, seriously. I thought that before they gave my blog a free promotion to thousands of their readers. Honest! And I'd take a Judge Dredd lie detector test to prove it.

I must admit that up until a few years back the Megazine was never on my must-buy list. It was one of those comics I wanted to like, and would buy it occasionally to support it, but it always seemed a poor cousin to 2000 AD. Don't get me wrong; I've always been a big fan of the Judge Dredd concept and its social satire. (I even wrote one of the first, if not the first, retrospectives on Dredd 'way back in 1978.) It was the rest of the Megazine that didn't grab me too much.

What hooked me was the revamp the Megazine had several years ago, when it was boosted up to 100 pages and began including more new material plus articles on other pop culture. At last it seemed the title was finally living up to its Megazine status plus evolving into the sort of European-style comic I've always admired.

Unfortunately, a lot of the feature material did seem like padding, as did the choice of reprint material. My respect for the anti-war strip Charley's War is second to none, but it was incongruous in the pages of a Judge Dredd comic. (Though I urge you to buy the splendid Charley's War hardbacks from Titan Books.) Presumably falling sales brought about a budget cut and last year the Megazine dropped down to 52 pages. But you know what? It's better for it.

With the resizing, the price also dropped and editorially the comic is tighter and seems more confident. The strips are mostly new, (only six pages of reprint) and the articles more relevant. One admirable new addition is a spotlight feature promoting small press and upcoming talent (hooray!), - although those contributors are apparently not paid (boo!). Even so, it's a great showcase for the small press and even raised the curiosity of a cynical old veteran like me enough to buy some of those new titles from Smallzone and the like.

The current issue of the Megazine has a great cover by Steve Roberts, whose work improves with each contribution, even though a few blinkered fanboys scream "Ew! Too cartoony!" when it appears. (Take it from me Steve, when the day of Ragnarok comes all the people who like "cartoony" comics will become Space Gods and those that hate it will devolve into cat litter.)

Steve also draws one of the interior strips, Black Atlantic, written by one of the Dan Abnetts. I say that because Dan Abnett writes so much stuff that he must be working alongside a bunch of Dan Abnett clones or Dan Abnetts from the future or something. Either that, or he's just hyper-talented and organized. But he works in comics for Crom's sake. He's not supposed to be organized! ;-)

Other strips include the Judge Dredd lead strip by Robbie Morrison and Lee Garbett, a Dredd reprint by John Wagner and Greg Staples, the Trilithon small-press strip by Stephen Prestwood, Devlin Waugh by John Smith and Peter Doherty, and The Simping Detective by Simon Spurrier and Frazer Irving. Plus articles on current tv crime shows, film reviews, and a guide to self-publishing.

Anyway; Judge Dredd Megazine No.255. £2.99. Available in all good newsagents and even some bad ones. Buy it.

In a few weeks 2000AD (and Judge Dredd) celebrate their 30th anniversaries. I'll be spotlighting the early days of the comic here at the appropriate time.
Official 2000AD / JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE website: http://www.2000adonline.com

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