So, a quick catch-up blog – and an apology – on a post from last month.
I posted up a scan of a Judge Dredd strip from a 1990 issue of Sinclair User magazine, which I believed (based on Sinclair User‘s own claims) to be an ‘exclusive’ strip. By ‘exclusive’ strip, I took that to mean it had not previously been published. Oh, how wrong I was.
…this story had appeared before in Judge Dredd’s Crime File #1 (August 1989), published by Quality Comics. This was a short-lived Prestige Format series that consisted of reprints from various 2000AD/Judge Dredd annuals and specials, so I’m guessing that this particular story may have had an earlier appearance before.
Compounding my error, I actually remember the Judge Dredd: Crime Files series. I think I bought #2 and #3 (subsequently giving them away as a birthday present to a friend). They were rather nice editions – smaller than the Titan albums, but pretty decent colour printing and perfect-bound.
Anyway, the MCS link above also provides info on the contents:
6 page Judge Dredd story “none (Meanwhile?)”
Genre Science Fiction
Script John Wagner [as T. B. Grover]
Pencils Ian Gibson
Inks Ian Gibson
Colors Ian Gibson
Letters Tom Frame
Notes This reprint is untitled, but I’m thinking it may be “Meanwhile” from the 1987 Dredd Annual; the artist matches, the title could work, and the Seven Dwarves story is also from there.
Reprinted from 2000 AD (IPC Magazines Ltd, 1977 series) #? [possibly the 1987 Judge Dredd Annual]
Again, my apologies to you all for misrepresenting the strip; and my thanks to Rodrigo for setting me straight.
Okay, so it was nothing of the sort…
I was always more of a mainstream comic reader than a fanboy, but in 1989 and 1990 I did make the trek up to That There Lunnon for the 2000AD/Judge Dredd Annual signing thingummy organised by Forbidden Planet. It was the first time I’d ever met comic creators! I think it would have been in July, or maybe August. School holidays, definitely. The first time I went up with a couple of school friends, with my dad in tow, but by the next year I was trekking into Town fairly frequently on my own anyway, so I suspect that year’s trip was parent-free.
Anyway, my memories of exactly who was at what signing are somewhat hazy, not helped by the fact that I don’t have all the annuals I got signed (as I sold off some of my collection at the beginning of the recession due to pennilessness, d’oh). I do remember that the 1989 signing (of the annuals cover dated 1990) – at Cafe Mango I think? – was late to start because Simon Bisley was late… But when he did turn up, wow! He was like a rock god! Not that I had any interest in rock gods, but boy was he charismatic. Strange to think that a speccy dude in a mullet entranced me so much, but he did. Suddenly all the heavy metal muscled men and pneumatic warrior women in Sláine: The Horned God (the first volume of which was out as a 2000AD Books full colour TPB at the time) made a lot more sense… Bisley was great – rather tipsy, but good fun. He rattled off a great sketch of Joe Pineapples from the ‘ABC Warriors’ for me, unprompted. After the signing I rushed back to Forbidden Planet on New Oxford Street to get myself a JP badge, which I wore on my school blazer for ages!
Besides The Biz, there was Kev Hopgood, who seemed like a really nice chap, though I just wasn’t a fan of his work (Night/Beyond/Below Zero). Even at the time I felt guilty about not enjoying his stuff. Finally, there was Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell – this was the time of ‘Zenith’ – and the then deputy-Tharg Alan MacKenzie, who I knew as the author of How To Draw And Sell Comic Strips (illustrated by Steve Parkhouse), a book I had on perpetual loan from my local library.
The next year the signers included MacKenzie (again), writers John Smith and Pete Milligan, plus artist Paul Marshall (whose work I really wasn’t very familiar with). The big hitter, though – in the Bisley seat, so to speak – was Colin MacNeil. This was after Chopper: Song Of The Surfer had come out, but possibly before Judge Dredd: America. MacNeil was the antithesis of Bisley – shy, very quiet – but as generous to a humble fan. I think he sketched me a quick Marlon Shakespeare, but I can’t remember where I’ve stashed it. I then seized my moment, whipped out a blank Eagle Awards nomination form, and asked him to put his name in the ‘Favourite Artist’ section, and to sign it. He visibly cringed, but he did it anyway, sport that he was.
And, uh, that’s the story of how COLIN MACNEIL TRIED TO RIG THE 1990 EAGLE AWARDS!
Edited 5 October to correct foolish error
SCANTASTIC! ‘Zap! Pow! The astonishing growth of Graphic Novels’ – yet another “comics aren’t just for kids” article from ‘BOOKS’ magazine (June 1990)
In the mid 1980s, right through to the early 1990s, thanks to the whole speculation shitstorm which gave the illusion of healthy financial investment in comics, you could barely open a newspaper or magazine without some barely-evidenced article announcing that ‘comics aren’t just for kids!’
There were a few culprits: Art Spiegelman’s Maus – a holocaust survivor’s tale told in anthropomorphic pictures – was one of the prime suspects, with its classy perfect-bound gatefold paperback edition published by Penguin to great fanfare. Then there was Frank Miller’s canon-stretching Batman series The Dark Knight Returns, collected by Titan into a nice trade paperback. Grant Morrison and Dave McKean gave us the provocative Arkham Asylum.
These books and others seemed to take the form – as understood in the Anglo world – further away from the juvenile roots of comics, expounding upon existential themes, adult ideas, often with meticulously painted instead of the industrial assembly line plot-pencil-ink-colour-letter process of the American business.
But whilst some of these books clearly were conceived for a contained long-form, the big comic publishers sensed an opportunity, and before long every two-bit superhero, every slightly angsty übergoth outsider character, was in on the act, with Marvel and DC leading the effort to wage war on guiltless trees the world over. Otherwise pedestrian arcs of regular joe comics were packaged together, given a shiny new cover, and marketed as ‘graphic novels’. Comics for grown ups. Because comics have grown up. Groan…
And obviously having gone down the path of parcelling up product for second sale, the publishers also put in a lot of resources to market these naked-emperor books; and the mainstream book publishing companies, smelling the sweet scent of easy money, were wholly complicit. Hey, everybody wanted their own Maus.
So that’s why you would see all these crappy articles.
This one is from bookshop trade mag ‘BOOKS’, which was a freebie distributed through the Booksellers Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ‘Charter’ network. To be honest, it’s not the worst of its kind.
So, Pat Mills – probably the comic writer who most inspired, influenced and guided me – has taken up blogging!
I imagine that the response from readers, and the opportunity for dialogue, has been somewhat positive, as now he has launched a Pat Mills WordPress blog. Here he is posting all sorts of fascinating stuff about comics and characters he has been involved in, starting with the genesis of 2000AD and the creation of ‘Judge Dredd’ – and given the recent release of the Dredd movie, it’s most timely!
So why does Pat Mills matter? Well, consider his involvement in…
- Girls’ comics – long overlooked by too many comic historians
- Battle, Action & 2000AD – three ground-breaking, gritty comics born in the belly of the IPC beast through the midwifery of crazed freelances and subversive staff members
- ‘Charley’s War’ – the best comic strip about war bar none, threaded through with humanism and righteous rage
- Creators’ rights – behind the scenes, artists and writers are treated like indentured labour by massive publishing corporations
- Pushing for recognition for unsung or unfashionable talent – like Gerry Finley-Day and Angela Kincaid
- Diceman, Crisis & Toxic! – three great stabs at pushing UK comics into fresh directions
There was a great two-part interview with Pat last year by Matt Badham on the Forbidden Planet blog, which dealt with his thoughts on a wide range of topics. It’s rather long but I heartily encourage you to read through the whole thing… (1) (2)
Anyway, back to Pat and his new blog…
- Dredd – The Killing Machine
- Dredd – The Lawman Of The Future
- Dredd – Better Dredd Than Dead
- Dredd – Judgement Day
- Dredd – Exit Wounds
- Dredd – In The Shadow Of The Judge
- Dredd – Dredd & Darkie’s Mob
- Torquemada – The Swinging Monk
- Dredd – He Is The Law!
Edited 27 & 29 September and 1, 3, 4 & 6 October 2012 to add links to new excerpts
One of the reasons behind this blog was as a place to share bits ‘n’ bobs relating to comics that I have accrued over the years, but which others may have missed.
What with the release of the new Dredd movie – which by all accounts appears to have successfully fumigated the collective memory of the Stallone apostasy – I thought it might be nice to post this six-page ‘Judge Dredd’ strip which featured ‘exclusively’* in Sinclair User magazine back in August 1990. It was a tie-in to Virgin’s 8-bit JD game for the ZX Spectrum, and whilst I wasn’t into computers or gaming in the least, when I saw SU on the news stand – complete with Ol’ Joe looming out from the cover, courtesy of Cliff Robinson – I just had to buy it!
The strip itself is a nice six-page introduction to Mega City One, Dredd and to the more humorous side of his world, written by John Wagner (under the TB Grover pseudonym) with art by Ian Gibson. There is also a pull-out poster with the magazine – I’ll scan and post that up here too, when I get the chance.
I scanned the pages at 300dpi, and tidied them up as best I can (the pages were somewhat discoloured) in Photoshop. Any art glitches are my fault, not the Twerkmeister’s. The full res versions I first converted to CMYK before assembly into a PDF for you to download (link below); there are also screen res RGB jpegs as well. Don’t say I never put in the effort!
* Reader Rodrigo Baeza notes in the comments that this story had actually been previously published in the Fleetway/Quality trade paperback Judge Dredd Crime Files Volume 1, which came out in 1989. If that wasn’t enough to torpedo the claims of exclusivity, it seems that that was a reprint from the 1987 Judge Dredd Annual! Oh lumme….
Edited 30 September 2012 to qualify ‘exclusive’ claims…