"2000AD" has recently began publishing US editions of its "Judge Dredd Case Files" line of trade paperbacks, but it turns out this is only the beginning. Saturday afternoon in San Diego at Comic-Con International, CBR News had a chance to sit down with "2000AD" graphic novel editor Keith Richardson to discuss the title's impending US invasion.
A crowded Irish pub in the Gaslamp district of San Diego seemed a slightly ironic place to meet with the face behind the biggest English comics sensation ever, "2000AD." Going strong in the UK for 33 years and counting, 2010 is the year in which "2000AD" finally starts to conquer America.
Drinking a pint of Guinness, Richardson first said that all of "2000AD" and parent company Rebellion's US plans are due directly to a new distribution deal with Simon and Shuster. Simon and Shuster offered to carry the UK material in the US, but Rebellion instead decided to roll out an entire US line.
"Some of the East Coast stores are really enthused by the new line, as well as West Coast stores, but I've talked to retailers in the mid-West and they don't even know what "2000AD" is and they barely know about "Judge Dredd," Richardson said. "We want to change that."
"2000AD's" popularity in America is starting to grow. "2000AD" is currently packaged in groups of four when imported through Diamond Distributors, with each pack representing one month of the weekly comic. However, starting soon, the issues will sell well enough individually to go back to shipping on a weekly basis in the US direct market.
Richardson also explained that the new line would be modeled after Dark Horse's line of graphic novels. "They are my favorite publishers, outside of what we do, I love their books and the formats that they put out. "
Richardson next dropped a bombshell that the "2000AD" anthology comic book, for over 30 years released only in the UK, will begin being released in the US, albeit in a slightly different format in the near future. Still in the very early stages of development, the US edition will at first feature reprints of the most popular "2000AD" strips and will ship to the direct market through Diamond Distribution in a 22-page format.
Tentatively titled "2000AD Presents," the title will not feature Judge Dredd stories and will instead focus on getting US readers hooked on other "2000AD" properties. Properties mentioned for the US treatment included "Kingdom" and "Zombo."
Richardson also went over the plans for their graphic novel expansion, which began in June 2010. They currently have scheduled two releases a month going until May 2011, with plans to continue the line past that.
"This is the first time, as far as we are concerned, that "2000AD" has been pushed in to the US mass market. In many instances we are not reintroducing or reminding people of these stories, even 'Judge Dredd'-we are introducing them for the first time," Richardson said. "So we want to make the books as appealing as possible. We are not leaving any inch in terms of quality, we will have the best covers and new material for US audiences."
One of these books that will reach out to US audiences is "Megacity Masters" which is a series of graphic novels exclusive to the US market. It will feature "Judge Dredd" comics by creators popular in the US such as Mark Millar, Brian Bolland, Simon Bisley, Kevin O'Neill, and Jock. "It's a nice segue in to the 'Judge Dredd' world," said Richardson."The Dredd-verse is a lot more accessible than the universe of other characters, like Spider-Man, Batman, or X-Men, which can get very convoluted. You have Megacity One, which is full of crazy, mad bastards, and that's all you need to know."
Richardson also revealed that the US edition of "The ABC Warriors: The Meknificent Seven," to be released this month,will feature an exclusive Alan Moore comic, penciled by Steve Dillon, which has not been reprinted in any format since its release in comic form over 20 years ago. This comic was not featured in the UK version of the graphic novel and is the only ABC Warriors comic that has ever been written by anyone other than series creator Pat Mills. Extras like this are being used in the US graphic novels to entice readers to pick them up, extras that not even UK fans will receive.
Another reveal was that Richardson is in very early stages of finally releasing Grant Morrison's magnum opus "Zenith" in a collected edition. This comic, which has never been released in a definitive one-volume edition, is often referred to as Grant Morrison's best work and is highly sought after by collectors, with rarer volumes sometimes fetching hundreds of dollars on the secondary market.
Confusion over rights issues has left this book in limbo for decades, but Richardson said it is one of his main priorities, aside from the "Judge Dredd" film, to get the rights sorted out as soon as possible.
"It's our Marvelman," said Richardson, referring to the classic character whose masterful runs by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman remain out of print.
With the "Judge Dredd" film coming out soon, Richardson also said "2000AD" is already starting to capitalize on the inevitable hype, releasing Judge Dredd books in the US every four months. "Once we find out when the film will be released, I'll know enough in advance to put out the right material. I'm kind of guessing at the moment that will be sometime in 2012."
Richardson than spoke briefly about the comic "Zombo," about an intelligent Zombie created by the military, which was serialized this year in "2000AD." "We haven't had a reaction like this [in the UK] to a new character since Nikolai Dante [in 1997]," Richardson said. The first "Zombo" collection is set to be released in the US this October, just in time for Halloween. "Pick it up and you'll be hooked within six pages, it's just that good."
Richardson's faith in "Zombo's" continued popularity is immediately evident as he hands me his business card. Framing his information is a giant illustration of "Zombo," appearing to speak Richardson's name and address itself.
"I've always been a "2000AD" fan, I'm living the dream," Richardson said, as a local band began to fire up in the pub. The music then drowned out our conversation as we finished up our beers and marched back to CCI.