Today, at WonderCon in Anaheim, IDW Publishing announced its plans for “Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi Division,” a follow-up miniseries to last year’s “Judge Dredd: Year One.” Written by returning “Year One” scribe and “2000 AD” editor-in-chief Matt Smith, with art by “Thrud the Barbarian” creator Carl Critchlow, “Anderson” picks up with Judge Dredd’s favorite psychic colleague, 24 years after the events of “Year One,” which just so happens to be the year she was born.
Smith spoke with CBR News about what it’s like to write MegaCity-One’s top telepath, revealing details about the story, its relationship with “Year One,” and what “2000 AD” alien overlord Tharg thinks about all of this nonsense.
CBR News: Matt, how’d you end up writing “Anderson, Psi Division” for IDW? What’s it about?
Matt Smith: After I finished writing a “Strontium Dog” e-novella for Rebellion, I asked [editor-in-chief] Chris Ryall at IDW if there was anything else he’d like me to write for them — “Judge Dredd: Year One” had gone down fairly well, I thought. He replied that the next Dreddworld miniseries he was mooting was an Anderson one, and he asked if I was interested in that, which I most definitely was.
It starts with Cass getting a psi-flash of a heist at the opening of an exhibition of Cursed Earth antiquities at the Megapolitan Museum of Modern History. Investigating, she discovers perps attempting to steal a map while a mutant has psychically blacked out the whole area, rendering everyone unconscious. In a bid to find out what the criminals needed the map for, she goes on their trail.
How does this relate to your “Judge Dredd: Year One” story?
It’s a kind-of sequel to “Year One,” in that Anderson was born in 2080, the year “Year One” was set. And though she’s now 24 in 2104, the repercussions of what happened in “Year One” will resonate.
Did you speak with Judge Anderson mastermind Alan Grant about this project at all?
No, I didn’t speak to Alan about it, but I tried to recreate the Anderson from the stories he and John Wagner penned.
In what ways is the IDW Anderson different from her “2000 AD” counterpart?
I hope that she pretty much the same; I’ve tried to write her as the “2000 AD” version — sparky, irreverent, determined and empathetic. She’s obviously younger in this than she is in “2000 AD” at the moment — she’s at the beginning of her career, but already one of Psi-Division’s top telepaths.
How do Judge Anderson and Judge Dredd differ in their views on crime?
Dredd sees only in black and white — the Law and those that break it — while Cass is more attuned to her feelings, and often feels the citizens deserve a break. She’s allowed a lot more leeway as a Judge, since her psychic talents mean she’s more highly strung. She’s a very good feisty foil for Dredd. That said, both are similar in that Cass has no family — she has no memory of her parents — and has been effectively brought up Justice Department and the Academy of Law. In this story, we’ll see her go outside the city for the first time in her life.
What are some of your favorite “Judge Anderson” stories?
The original “Dark Judges” stories are, of course, peerless. I like “The Possessed” a lot, and “Hour of the Wolf” is probably the series that has the most influence on this story — there’s a scene in that in which Cass is ambushed by Sov assassins, and Barry Kitson’s choreography of the action as she is brought off her Lawmaster and returns fire is beautiful. “The King of the Six Sectors” is more of a crime story like that, than something with a supernatural threat.
How’s your day job going at “2000 AD?” Anything new and exciting over there?
It’s all exciting! The new line-up that started in Prog 1874 is going down very well, and at the beginning of May we’ve got the return of “Indigo Prime” by John Smith and Lee Carter; and more “Brass Sun” by Ian Edginton and INJ Culbard in July alongside new Viking series “Black Shuck” by Leah Moore, John Reppion and Steve Yeowell.
You’ve said in the past that you prefer writing novels to comics, but with both “Year One” and this project, could it be a sign you’ll be moving more into writing comics instead of just editing them?
I can’t see me giving up the day job anytime soon, but I enjoy writing in my spare time, and it feels good to have a project to keep me busy. I like writing prose a lot, but it’s more time-consuming than comics, and you don’t get the thrill of seeing the art come back from the artist!
Lastly, how does Tharg feel about you moonlighting for IDW? I can’t imagine his excellency is very pleased.
I haven’t told him. I figure what he doesn’t know can’t get me dismantled…
Look for “Judge Dredd: Anderson, Psi Division” this August from IDW Publishing.