The galaxy’s greatest comic was honored Thursday afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego during the annual “2000 AD” panel, covering everything from “DREDD” the film to “Dredd” the comic to non-Dredd-related topics. Hosted by UK graphic novel anthology “2000 AD’s” director of PR Michael Molcher, the panel included “2000 AD” creators Jock (“Snapshot”, “DREDD”), Chris Burnham (“Judge Dredd,” “Batman Incorporated”), Michael Carroll (“Judge Dredd”) and Henry Flint (“Judge Dredd,” “Zombo”). ”
Molcher started things off by informing the audience he’d be handing out a limited hardcover Comic-Con edition of the recently released “DREDD The Illustrated Movie Script” at the end of the panel. The book features Jock’s illustrations and design work next to screenwriter Alex Garland’s original script for the film.
Molcher then handed out a free copy of “Hondo City Justice” by Robbie Morrison and Frank Quitely to a fan, a way of saying thanks to fans that Molcher would continue to do throughout the panel.
Back to the panel, Burnham is a relative newcomer to the world of Dredd, as is first “Judge Dredd” comic appeared May’s “Free Comic Book Day” edition of “2000 AD.”
“I’ve known about Dredd since I was a kid and [writer] Matt Smith was kind enough to include my all-time favorite Dredd villains in the story, the blobs,” Burnham said. “It is far and away my favorite Dredd story. These criminals decide it would be harder for them to get caught if everybody in the city looks the same, so they con an ad agency into removing the facial features off a bunch of famous people in all sorts of ads. It becomes the fad that sweeps the city for like two days or whatever. Everyone has all their facial features removed, and they all wear the same clothes. So weird. I got to draw three or four of them, and they all got slaughtered.”
Burnham discussed drawing Dredd for the first time. “His helmet is really iconic, but his proportions are really weird,” he said. “It’s difficult to draw the red bar with respect to the visor. I go straight across. You have to figure out your way and then stick to it for six pages.”
Molcher asked Jock what it was like to see his design work come to life in the film “DREDD.” Jock replied, “It’s surreal and rewarding and unbelievable and amazing, and it makes me very proud, to be honest. Dredd was my favorite character when I was young. He’s the person who made me want to draw comics for a living, so to have an integral part in the ‘DREDD’ movie was really special.”
Jock’s designs for the films are in the new “DREDD: The Illustrated Movie Script,” but they don’t always match up with what ended up on screen. “It’s not as simple as saying that’s mine. The gun’s mine, by the way. That’s mine. The helmet, as well. That was pretty close to the comic,” Jock said.
Jock also worked on the book’s design alongside “2000 AD” graphic designer Pye Parr. “Often concept art books have really nice art, but they sometimes feel a bit thin. You just kind of look at them and go, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ So we tried to give this one a little bit more.”
Carroll has been writing “Judge Dredd” since 2011. “I’ve been reading ‘2000 AD’ since the very first issue,” Carroll said. “So I’ve actually been reading ‘2000 AD’ longer than Judge Dredd has been around because Dredd only appeared in issue two! So I win.”
Molcher than started a game called “Thrill or Shill” with the audience. Molcher said the game “came to me in a dream. And I am really not joking.” Each member of the panel would read a “2000 AD” quote and contestants had to guess it if was a real quote (thrill) or a fake one (shill). If players answered four in a row correctly, they won a free “2000 AD” graphic novel.
The only person to win the game seemingly lost at first when he incorrectly thought the quote “Mama’s not the law, I’m the law” came from an issue of “2000 AD.” However, Jock forced Molcher to overturn the decision on the basis that the quote was in the movie “DREDD.” He answered the remaining questions correctly and won a free “Judge Dredd” graphic novel.
Molcher asked the panel to name their favorite “2000 AD” stories. Jock’s favorites included “The Ballad of Halo Jones” by Alan Moore and Ian Gibson, “ABC Warriors” and “Slaine: The Horned God,” both by writer Pat Mills.
Burnham said he loves “Strontium Dog” by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. “It’s like ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ in space. Hardcore bounty hunters with x-ray eyes. It’s awesome.”
Flint’s favorite strip is “Nemesis the Warlock” by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill, which Flint himself contributed the final chapter to. Flint also named “Journey into Hell” as his favorite “Strontium Dog” story.
Carroll named “Return to Armageddon,” “D.R. Quinch” by Alan Moore, the original “2000 AD” run of “Dan Dare,” and the recent “Cradlegrave” by writer John Smith. He also called “anything that Pat Mills has done mind-blowingly insanely brilliant and mad and hard to get into until you get that sort of click where it all makes sense.”
Molcher announced that the first of four softcovers for “Zenith” by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell will hit shelves this October. Molcher said, “It’s about what if the only superhero in the world is a vain, spoiled brat pop-star who had no interest in being a hero, but then suddenly a Nazi superman shows up and starts punching around the place.”
The panel then took questions from the floor.
The artists of the panel were asked if they ever wanted to jump back to Carlos Ezquerra’s original style for Judge Dredd. Jock said he emulated artist Mick McMahon when he started drawing “Judge Dredd,” but that he used Ezquerra’s style for the film costume calling it “much more paired down and functional.”
Burnham said he “combined elements of everyone’s [style.] So I’m sure there’s some Carlos in there. But I was really copying off of Dave Taylor, who I think is really the Dredd artist of the last few years. Sorry guys!”
A fan asked how they planned to deal with the rapidly aging Dredd, who famously ages in real time. Carroll joked, “He’s not as old as my dad, and I wouldn’t put my dad down just yet. Not just yet.”
Flint said he was in a pub 10 years ago when he overheard Wagner saying he might stop aging Dredd physically. He would still add a year on to his age every year, but his body would only age to a certain point. “But that was 10 years ago, and I have no idea what the plan is now.”
Carroll added, “As long as John Wagner keeps writing ‘Dredd,’ there’s always going to be an inventive way to keep going.”
Jock joked, “I can confirm he’s going to get to 164, and then we’re going to keep him around there.”
Flint informed a “Nemesis the Warlock” fan that the comic could conceivably return one day despite ending in 2000. “[Pat Mills] tried to end it on a note where it could actually be brought back. They weren’t actually dead; they were just circling the planet locked in mortal combat for the rest of eternity. So there is the possibility.”
Burnham said that if fans enjoyed “Nemesis,” they should check out Flint’s “Shakara.” “It’s [Flint’s] love letter to [‘Nemesis’ co-creator] Kevin O’Neill. Everything is just horrific. Everyone’s got like 18 fingernails and 36 eyes.”
Molcher added, “The last human being alive dies on the third page, and then it really gets going.”
Molcher finished the panel with one more game, a “2000 AD” version of the UK game show “Play Your Cards Right.” Each panel member was given a stack of giant “2000 AD”-themed playing cards. Contestants would draw a card and then guess if a subsequent card drawn by a panel member was higher or lower. Contestants won a “2000 AD” graphic novel if they guessed correctly four times in a row. Molcher incorrectly assumed the mostly-U.S. audience would already be familiar with the UK game show. Four people played the game, with two winning free graphic novels.
Finally, Molcher ended the panel by rewarding a fan dressed as Judge Fear the limited edition “DREDD The Illustrated Movie Script.” Judge Fear opened his mask to reveal a bearded white man in his 30s. Molcher joked, “The most fearful thing you can see: a man with a beard!”