Archive for September, 2012

Reviewed by Eamonn Clarke

Hot off the press this week is a large format, coffee table style art book which reproduces classic covers from 35 years of 2000AD.

After a short introduction from John Wagner the book starts working through the different eras of the prog. Each cover is reproduced in full colour on the right hand page with comments and recollections from various creators on the left hand page. Pat Mills, Brian Bolland, Steve Dillon, Henry Flint, D’Israeli, Alan Grant, Ben Willsher, Matt Smith, Pete Wells and many, many more chip in along the way. The result is a verbal history of the prog and, in particular, the art design decisions about the covers, and some of the techniques artists used to stunning effect.
This book concentrates on Judge Dredd and is obviously tied into the launch of the movie and the (hopefully) increased interest in Dredd. So you won’t find covers from other 2000AD stories. What you do get is just about every iconic Dredd cover you can think of reproduced in all its glory. All the great artists are represented from Bolland, McMahon, Ezquerra, Dillon, Gibson and Smith to new stars like Jock, Henry Flint, Greg Staples, Cliff Robinson and Ben Willsher. There are about 130 full size colour pages including some of the wraparound covers. Other Dredd covers are reproduced as smaller images on the left hand pages. Inevitably there will be one or two of your favourites which you would have preferred to see full size instead of in miniature, but reproducing all the covers would presumably have been prohibitive in terms of cost and weight. But you do get to see small versions of the infamous Jolly Green Giant and Burger Wars covers.
 Comic book fans are naturally drawn to visual imagery and the brilliant combination of the covers with short comments from the creators gives a real feel of how the comic and Dredd in particular have developed over the 35 years. The result is a book that acts as a history of 2000AD. You can read it straight through as I did or you can just dip into it from time to time. You won’t have to flick through many pages before you find an image that makes you wish you had that prog or the original art.
Over on the 2000AD forums there was a plea for movie tie-in products. Well here’s one. It’s a lovely, hard-bound book which you can proudly show to anyone with an interest in art and design, or in Judge Joseph Dredd himself. I can’t possibly give it any less that a full 5 star rating. It’s a thing of beauty. Pop over to the 2000AD site and order a copy, you may even still be able to get one of the enhanced special editions. Or if funds are limited go to Amazon where you can save yourself a few pounds. Zarjaz!

Dredd – Movie Review

Back from the Dredd

Special guest reviewer- Eamonn Clarke

There are at least 2000 reviews of Dredd 3D out there. Here is another one.

2000AD has been one of the biggest proving grounds for British comic book talent over the last 35 years. So much so that it is a bit of a mystery why none of its iconic characters have been adapted into successful films before now. Obviously there was the other movie but we all try to forget that one. But think of the creators who started out with 2000AD: Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Neil Gaiman, John Wagner, Mark Millar and Grant Morrison to name just a few. Many of them have gone on to create stories for other comics that have been adapted for the screen, but still the only 2000AD character to escape from the comic pages is Judge Joe Dredd.
Dredd 3D arrives with an enormous weight of expectations from the fans, and also the big question of whether it can cross over and attract those who don’t read the comics into the cinemas. Fortunately everyone involved seems to have been aware of the expectations and were committed to treating the character seriously. Another huge factor in the success of the film has been the involvement of the creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra who get first billing in the end credits. Getting the popular 2000AD artist Jock to help design the look of Megacity One was also a very smart move by the producers.
So how well do they succeed in adapting the world of Judge Dredd? The opening shots of the Cursed Earth, the wall, and then Megacity One along with Karl Urban’s voice over set the scene quickly and efficiently. Director Pete Travis makes sure we know where we are straight away, and it is a believable world that doesn’t seem that far from our own. The slums, the battered vehicles and the street crime recall images from films like City of God and even the riots that plagued London in 2011AD.

And then there is Dredd himself. Right from the opening shots of him donning his armoured clothing and helmet Karl Urban is Judge Dredd. Terse, brutal and deadly. Obviously the uniform had to be adapted from the comic book depictions into something more functional, but the interesting thing is Dredd’s outfit looks well used and somewhat battered. Even the famous helmet is scarred and scratched in contrast to the Stallone movie where everything gleamed as if it had come straight out of the factory, or had just stepped off Versace’s catwalk.
The storyline is kept fairly straight-forward and simple with the two Judges outnumbered and outgunned as they try to work their way up through Peach Trees block to the final showdown with Lena Headey’s Ma-Ma. If I had any criticism it would be with the portrayal of Anderson as somewhat nervous and uncertain at the start of the film, I would expect a cadet Judge to be tougher but it does allow the the writer Alex Garlandto give us her character progression through the 95 minute film. Those minutes are perfectly paced and it feels is just the right length for an adult action film which is not affected by the bloated running times that are increasingly common.

While on the subject of time the depiction of the effects of the drug Slo-Mo are central to the plot and allow for an impressive combination of slow motion filming and the 3D effects. The water splashing from Ma-Ma’s bath and the shattering of a glass window later in the film are stand-out moments. I will don my medical hat for a moment to wonder how the drug works. Slo-Mo slows the user’s perception of time passing to one hundredth of normal. It is taken taken through an inhaler device and appears to work almost instantaneously. To affect the experience of time passing I would assume that Slo-Mo must work on neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. That means the drug must be inhaled into the lungs, cross into the bloodstream and then get across the blood brain barrier which would take some time. It would be quick but not as fast as shown in the film but we will just have to allow some artistic licence here.
Along with Karl Urban the rest of the cast are fantastic. Fans of The Wire will enjoy seeing Dredd and Anderson arrest Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris). It was also nice to see one of the Weasleys, Domhnall Gleeson, graduating to a more interesting film role as the Clan Techie, and Rakie Ayola makes the jump from Holby City to Chief Judge look easy!
Overall the film is a fantastic action adventure which remains true to the spirit of the comics while opening the character up for a wider audience. Let us hope that it makes enough money so that Travis, Garland and Urban can give us a sequel. The medic-droid gives Dredd 3D a full 5 stars. Film of the year for me.

Scarlet Traces

Special guest reviewer- Eamonn Clarke

Tharg has launched a new thrill for 2000AD in the shape of the intriguing Brass Sun. Written by Ian Edginton and illustrated by I.N.J. Culbard, with future installments to be drawn by another of Edginton’s regular collaborators (and current Lowlife artist) Matt “D’Israeli” Brooker.

Edginton and Brooker have previously worked together on a number of stories that have appeared in and around 2000AD and the Megazine. Scarlet Traces started from the fantastic premise that Britain used the alien technology left lying around at the end of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds to create a steampunk empire. The writer and artist use this as the background for a murder mystery as a traditional gentleman adventurer and his assistant come up against a dark conspiracy.

The original Scarlet Traces story appeared in the Meg (vol 4 16-18) and it also spawned a sequel, The Great Game, which was published by Dark Horse. They were collected in hardback but are getting rather hard to get hold of these days. If you are interested you can read their adaptation of Wells’ original novel on the Dark Horse site.

Like most works by Edginton and D’Israeli Scarlet Traces is filled with references to other works, in-jokes, and nods to various bits of popular culture. There are so many that it inspired me to compile a set of annotations which you might find helpful as you read along. They even come with the stamp of approval from the creators themselves.

Possibly I have too much time on my hands becauseI have also extended the annotations to look at their more recent works including Leviathan, Kingdom of the Wicked and, of course, Stickleback. And if you find anything that I have missed or got wrong then please email me. You can find links to all my comic book annotations here.


Thank you for your attention.


On Hiatus

Regular readers of the blog will have noticed that there hasn’t been any reviews uploaded to the blog for a few weeks now. This is because I am finding it increasingly difficult to find the time to sit down and write a review for the Prog every week. Because of this I’ve decided to place the blog on an indefinite hiatus, untill I have more free time available. I am hoping that I will return to writing reviews for the blog at sometime in the future, and if and when I do start writing reviews again, I shall probably give the blog a complete new look and feel. Rest assured this shouldn’t be the end of the blog, as I will put any reviews I get sent from other people up on the blog, and the blog will remain online so you can still read all the reviews that I’ve posted thus far. Hopefully it won’t be too long until I can get back to writing for the blog, but until then I’d just like to say a big thank you to all of you who have allowed the blog to be such a success.

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