I love Judge Dredd.
There; I said it. I was a wee nipper when Prog 1 of 2000 AD hit the stands and I still remember running to my local newsagents, Jets to buy a copy for 8p. That first issue was amazing, with some great stories and some gory artwork. It fired my young imagination and I was desperate to get my hands on the next issue. Prog 2 was the one that changed things for me, although I didn’t realise it at the time. That was the first issue to feature Judge Dredd.
Dredd was the hard-hitting, take no shit lawman of the 21st century. He was tough, uncompromising and gritty as hell. The first stories were brilliant and I loved the way Mega-City One was as much a character of those tales as the Judge was. The first mega storyline that really made me sit up and take notice was The Cursed Earth saga, hotly followed by the Day the Law Died. Awesome stuff!
The stories themselves are great, and range across the board from gritty and harsh to surreal parody. The writers over the years have captured the character of Dredd and given him some fantastic stories. But for me it’s the artists that truly bring Dredd’s world to life. There have a lot of great (and some not so great) artists in 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine – so here’s my top five Dredd artists of the last 30+ years…
Mike McMahon/Henry Flint
This is a bit of a cheat but…
Flint is one of the newer artists whose work I love. He seems to be able to turn his hand to anything and I loved what he did with Nemesis, but it’s his Dredd that really gets me. Great lines, dynamic panels and a brilliant eye for the cityscape of Mega-City One.
McMahon was the first artist whose work I saw on Dredd in Prog 2 and he’s an interesting guy to watch. His style has changed so dramatically over the years from the lean, sculpted characters of the early days through the rougher look of the Cursed Earth. Then he went crazy with the kneepads and his work on the Judge Child saga was dramatically different. His style constantly evolves but it’s always visually intriguing and never dull.
I’ve liked Gibson’s work since the early days of Robo Hunter but he really grew into one of my faves when he illustrated Halo Jones. His Dredd is always a treat to see; fluid with great curves and a distinctive look.
My absolute favourite Kennedy stories are the Midnight Surfer/Chopper ones. He gave Marlon Shakespeare’s outings a distinctive look that I absolutely fell in love with. He also has a fantastic way with the vehicles and tech that very few other Dredd artists seem to capture. And of course you just have to love his Kenny Who!
The best damn cover artist in the world – and arguably one of the slowest. Bolland’s work is always worth the wait though. His line work is amazing and he has such a careful and precise control with his inks. Although he’s produced less Dredd than any of the other artists here he’s also produced some of the finest and he gave us the distinctive Judge Death. Any time Bolland turns his hand to the Judge is an absolute treat.
Dredd’s co-creator is also my absolute favourite Dredd artist of all time. I think I really noticed Ezquerra’s work on Strontium Dog in Starlord and then in Fiends of the Eastern Front and the Stainless Steel Rat adaptations. But seeing his work on Dredd never fails to bring a smile to my face. Standouts for me are the Apocalypse War and his work on The Pit stories. Ezquerra’s Dredd is lean, mean and simply the finest there is in so many ways. His vision of Mega-City One is delightful and his action is always spot on. There’s never a wasted panel or unnecessary line and even when he’s rushed Ezquerra’s work is still head and shoulders above a lot of other artist’s best.