Since it was first announced in the United Kingdom in 2010, World Book Night has quickly established itself as a big deal indeed, a headline-grabber, something that has re-energized the national debate here about books and literature (always a good thing). Each year, a team of more than 20,000 “givers” volunteers to distribute a million free books, selected by a committee of experts, and donated by their publishers. The charity is partnered with the BBC, which regularly features the run-up and the event itself throughout its current affairs and cultural output: The booklist was featured last night on The One Show, and will be debated tonight on Newsnight Review. Doubtless someone on the panel will look baffled by its inclusion, like a caveman presented with the keys to a Ferrari.
The books announced yesterday as next year’s selection include, for the first time, some comics in the form of 2000AD/Rebellion Publishing’s Judge Dredd: The Dark Judges. Inclusion in this event could be seen as trumping Free Comic Book Day, with tens of thousands of copies of an entire graphic novel distributed freely across the entire nation in a hail of publicity. This edition features some stone-cold classics by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins and others, and includes the most celebrated panel ever in Bolland’s career at the venerable British anthology: