Dreddful things are happening at Dynamite Entertainment.
Announced today at WizardWorld Chicago, the classic British sci-fi character Judge Dredd will see a new series in 2009 from the American publisher, conceived and written by Garth Ennis ("The Boys") and Dredd co-creator John Wagner - the first project in a series of releases Dynamite is working out with Rebellion, Dredd's UK owner and publisher.
"We went after it for a while, but we could not seem to get in touch with the right person to get it going," explains Dynamite President and Publisher Nick Barrucci about his company's longstanding desire to publish the character. "I was at Garth's house one day and Judge Dredd came up. I told him how interested I was in it, but I just couldn't hook it up." The writer passed along Barrucci's desire to work with the characters of Dredd's universe to the editors of Rebellion, and before long, the sought after deal fell right into place.
"I think part of it is that Dynamite has done a lot of hard work to prove ourselves over the last several years, and I've got to admit...an introduction by Garth Ennis didn't hurt."
Barrucci says that the new series (which will kick off with dual covers from Alex Ross and classic Dredd artist Brian Bolland) will build on past Dredd continuity while providing an reader-friendly starting point for fans who only know the character from the forgettable 1995 film adaptation. "It's going to be everything you expect it to be. Garth being a British citizen who has emigrated to the United States is going to help give it some Americanism, for lack of a better term. He's going to help us find the boundary between the classic character of Judge Dredd and making it viable for an American audience.
"Garth is extremely, extremely dedicated to John Wagner being the writer on Judge Dredd, being the creator of the character and the voice of the character."
Dynamite moves forward with the property with the knowledge that Dredd has not been a smash hit in terms of sales in American comic shops in a long time, but Barrucci is confident that with the right presentation, readers will flock to the character and his world. "It's been a while since he was on the racks as a monthly, but with the right creative team, there's no reason why Dredd can't hold his own against all the other titles out there. And there's a lot of great material available for reprinting, and we're going to create a strong Dredd presence in comic shops again."
As the new "Judge Dredd" series will be only the first title in a proposed Dynamite/Rebellion pact, Barrucci did explain that reprint materials of classic Dredd stories by Wagner, Ennis and others will be a large part of the rollout plan with reprints being a backup feature in the new monthly being a possibility. "We have decided to look at all possibilities before making a decision.
"There will be as many trades as we can handle. Our output is going to be slow and meticulous at first. It's a focused rollout so we can create the market. We want to create the market for Judge Dredd that hasn't been there since the '80s."
As far as other Rebellion properties that he wants to see under the Dynamite banner, Barrucci says that there are a number of properties he'd like to work with, including Dredd's twisted mirror image. "Judge Death is ripe for a really dark mini series. He's the 'Killing Joke' character of the Judge Dredd universe."
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