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BLOG Year One Cures A Text Dread For Dredd

This is my 100th blog on the SFX website. In my first blog I wrote about my two biggest sci-fi loves: 2000AD ’s Judge Dredd and Star Wars . So it seems only fitting that this centenary blog should be about one of those subjects (but with a guest cameo by the other).

In that first blog I talked about reading 2000AD and Judge Dredd since I was 11 years old back in 1983. To put that in perspective I turned 41 last week. That’s a hell of a long time. I haven’t missed a single prog since then. But I’d only ever read Dredd in the comic strip format.

Back in the mid ’90s – around the time of that first Dredd film – we don’t talk about that film – and DC’s attempt to market the character for the US, Virgin Books released a series of novels featuring Dredd and I never even gave them a look. Between 2003 and 2007 Black Flame released yet more Dredd novels and again, I never bothered.

It’s odd that I never gave the books a go, I have plenty of Star Trek and Star Wars tie in books. Up until a few years ago I had read every single Star Wars “Expanded Universe” book that had ever been released. I’ve never had a problem with screen characters I know well making the transition to text. But never, not once, did I ever consider giving any of the Dredd novels a go.

In recent years Dredd has had a bit of a renaissance. Last year’s Dredd movie has moved the character into the limelight a little more and is becoming a cult favourite. Over the past year Dredd has gone from featuring in just 2000AD and his own Judge Dredd Megazine to now having not one, but two original comic book lines being made for the US audience, including a “Year One” concept going back to Dredd as a fresh-faced, just qualified, lawman. There’s also a big effort to repackage and reprint past stories for the US market too.

The two ebooks released under the “Year One” banner so far are City Fathers by Matt Smith and Cold Light Of Day by Michael Carroll. Maybe it’s because ebooks are so damned easy to acquire – one click and seconds later, there they are sitting in your Kindle (other ebook readers are available) – but I found myself reading City Fathers almost before I remembered how I wasn’t a fan of text-only 2000AD stories. Maybe it’s because they aren’t very expensive; both books will cost you under £5 together. Maybe I just liked the covers.

Whatever the reason I picked them up, I’m very glad I did. Both City Fathers and Cold Light Of Day are excellent. The idea of going back to the untold stories of Dredd in his early years is a brilliant one. The whole concept of Dredd as a young unproven Judge is an intriguing one. Both Carroll and Smith totally capture the character before he became the legend, and both authors defltly capture the internal monologue of the very stoic Dredd. Even Mega-City One seems a younger, fresher place too.

I guess childhood me was wrong and I’m big enough to admit it. Maybe I shouldn’t judge a story by its format. Some of those earlier Dredd novels are available in a digital format, and hey, there’s plenty of room in my Kindle. Maybe I’ll give them a go. Maybe I’ll even go back to my old annuals and give those text stories another go too…

So, does anyone out there ever have problems switching from format to format when it comes to favourite characters? Are there any characters that you think just don’t work without the visuals?

You can find “ City Fathers ” selling here for £1.54 and “ Cold Light Of Day here for £2.99 . Give ’em a try.