haven't read this in quite some time but did used to like the character. plenty of opportunity for good stories there, especially with judge death. could be fun....2000AD wrote:John Wagner on Dredd
As the creator of Dredd and still making the 30 year plus character seem fresher with every passing week, John Wagner needs little introduction to 2000AD readers. We caught up with the man himself to find out what makes Dredd tick...
Can you tell us how involved – if at all – you are with the new Judge Dredd movie? And how confident are you of a better movie this time around?
I have read the script (by Alex Garland) and seen Jock’s visuals. While I can’t go into detail about the content I can say that it’s high-octane, edge of the seat stuff, and gives a far truer representation of Dredd than the first movie. I hated that plot. It was Dredd pressed through the Hollywood cliché mill, a dynastic power struggle that had little connection with the character we know from the comic.
Confident? I will be once I hear they’ve started filming. There’s many a slip.
One of the unique aspects of Dredd has been that he’s aged in real time (with the odd re-juve here and there). How would you say his character has developed as he’s aged?
He’s grown more three-dimensional, I hope, and a little more human and compassionate – hard though I try to resist it! The arrogance and certainty of youth has been gradually replaced by a more measured, thoughtful, introspective Dredd. But make no mistake, he’s still no Sister Mercy.
How many years on the street can you see for Dredd, given that in another ten years down the line, he'll be hitting his 70s?
Don’t forget, by the 22nd century 70 is the new 40. And the guy comes from tough stock. So I wouldn’t worry unduly about his longevity. There may be a time down the road when we decide something must be decided, but that time hasn’t come yet and I’m content to leave it like that and just let things develop as they will, which is pretty much how Dredd has always worked.
The readership believes that he’s a surprisingly difficult character to pitch correctly. What would your advice be to a writer taking on a Dredd story with regards to getting his character right?
Avoid the more absurd elements of Dredd’s world, they’re too easy to get wrong. Don’t simply retell my stories, write your own. I’ve been pounding the streets of Mega-City One for 30 years but there are still crimes I haven’t thought of, angles I’ve missed – new perspectives to be explored. But I’m perhaps too close to the character to be the best advisor. You should address the question to Al Ewing and Gordon Rennie, both of whom seem to understand what makes Dredd work yet still manage to give us their own take on it. Ask them how they approached it.
The last time you co-wrote Dredd was with Andy Diggle on Dredd/Aliens. How did that work, and would you ever consider partnering up with another writer for Dredd or a Dredd-related tale in the future?
After much discussion of an episode’s content, we wrote alternate episodes then sent them to each other for editing/correction/further discussion. I like Andy and he was easy to work with (though I’m not sure he’d say the same about me), but I don’t think I’d willingly work with anyone again. That has nothing in particular to do with Andy, it’s just a general point about collaboration, any collaboration.
Imagine what a chore it can be, for instance, explaining why I think a certain approach is wrong, or why I want to play a scene in a particular way when I haven’t fully worked out the reasons in my own mind, I just know instinctively that it’s right. Okay, there might be a thousand other ways of doing it, none of them necessarily better or worse, but that’s the way I want to do it and I’m getting too old and too grumpy to waste time arguing the toss about it. And I don’t want to compromise anymore. There’s an awful lot of that involved in any partnership.
I’m not, of course, saying don’t collaborate – in the past I’ve derived a lot of pleasure and strength from working with people like Pat Mills and Alan Grant – but at this stage of my life I’m…well, like I said, just too old and too grumpy.
Have there been any Dredd tales by other writers that have impressed you?
Yes indeed, by the aforementioned Ewing and Rennie. I won’t single any story out – too many good ones. Not to forget Pat Mills and Alan Grant, who both played huge parts in forming the early Dredd.
How important to you is the strip's long-term continuity?
I’m not a continuity pedant but I feed off it all the time, so I have to say I’m all for it. It adds depth and substance to the story. If I could just now and then rewrite history, exclude a few things I or others had written in…
Is there anything you'd change in Dredd's past that you now have to write around?
Birdie, lie detection in general - the judges’ ability to sort truth from lie causes so many problems. Similarly, the ability of psis to read minds and predict the future. I have in recent years done my best to pull back on the extent of their powers.
The resurrection of Pa and Junior Angel, because it was just plain wrong.
Weather Control (not my creation in the first place). Perfect weather all the time denied us so many good visual effects. Whenever we wanted fog or rain or snow or whatever we had to stage a breakdown. I have solved the problem by allowing Weather Control to fall into decay. It was too damned expensive anyway.
The list, I’m sure, could go on and on.
So a return of the Angel Gang isn't on the cards?
Not from me, though I can confidently predict that we will be seeing Ratfink again.
Tour of Duty sees Dredd demoted and kicked out of Mega City One for supporting the mutant cause. From your point of view, did Dredd make the right or wrong decision in backing the mutants?
While I applaud his decency I think he was wrong – more in the manner of implementation than his actual motivation. He moved too far, too fast.
How long can we expect the current Tour of Duty storyline to last?
I look on it like a soap opera, a continuing storyline that just keeps developing. The story called ‘Tour of Duty’ will end, but the events contained in it will continue to ripple on and on.
Can you tell us what to expect from PJ Maybe next?
Big shocks, and soon.
Would you be interested in telling any tales of McGruder's time in the Cursed Earth? And what are the plans, if any, for Judge Death or Walter the Wobot?
No, and none. That’s not to say another writer might not pick up Judge Death, say, and run with him. I’d be happy to see that. Someone fresh to the character would do a better job that I could.
Are you aware of the The Judge Minty Fan Film - and what's your opinion on fan fiction and the small press market in general?
I’m know about Minty, though I haven’t yet taken the time to look deeply into it. Greg Staples sent me photos from it, of him dressed as Dredd (I think), and I was fair impressed. Thought he looked pretty good.
I’m all for fan fiction. It’s gratifying to know that readers have become so deeply involved with the comic and its characters. Many of them are impressively creative too – and with the dearth of other comics to practise on, fan fiction is now just about the only decent training ground for future 2000AD contributors. So I say keep it up.
apparently this is getting a new (proper?) treatment...