BOOK REVIEW: The Art of Judge Dredd

2000AD release their new book The Art of Judge Dredd with some of the best covers from the last 35 years. Geek Syndicate took a trip into the past and present to see what we missed and what we remember fondly in those awesome covers.

As part of the 35th anniversary celebrations of 2000AD this book has been brought right up to date with comments from editors, writers and artists that all give an insight into what made the covers special.

“The cover is, quite obviously, the most important page in any comic. It’s a glimpse into its soul. It’s a come-on, an inducement, a promise – it’s the temptress in the red-lit window. It must catch the eye from distance, it must stand out among so many others competing to do the same.” The book starts with an introduction by Dredd writer John Wagner who explains in loving terms why the covers are truly the most important part of the comic and how it impacts the story. Reading this book is your chance to find out what he means and see for yourself some of most famous, scary and downright weird and covers in 2000AD history.

The first part of the book covers 1977 to 1987 with the Newsprint era. During this time it was crucial for 2000AD to grab new readers especially as there were other comics out there competing for the same market. This era also covers The Cursed Earth run with some of the best covers featuring Dredd including PROG 85 that has the Judge crawling his way back to Mega City One.

The other thing to note is how during this time 2000AD absorbed both Star Lord and Tornado and how they adapted their 2000AD logo. I found it very cool to see the logo change and merge and then once again around PROG 180 it solidified its title with the subtitle of featuring Judge Dredd. It was during this time that one of the scariest covers appeared which also happened to feature Judge Death. This was only surpassed by my all time favourite 2000AD cover of the four dark Judges in PROG 225 which also happens to be one of the most iconic 2000AD cover of all time.

The next section is the Painted Years 1987 to 1999 which produced covers in full lithographic colour with some amazing results of which the first real triumph was PROG 533 that was literally like a 3d shot of Dredd aiming his Lawgiver right out of the cover at the reader. This medium allowed the cover artists to really explore colours and shades in stunning details and produce some truly inspiring and eye catching results.

It was also during this period that the logo went through some more changes all for the better some of which still survive to this day.

The last section is the Digital age which covers from 1999 to the present. The key thing that impresses with these covers is the attention to detail on every single cover. Every details shines through to produce covers that will have you just staring for much longer than your used to. This period also featured the Aliens crossover that produced some truly gory covers that would look good on any film poster. One of my other favourite covers is PROG 1505 that has Dredd and two other Judges on the Lawmasters driving right out of the cover and showcasing a cool looking Mega City One behind them. A special mention must also go to PROG 1681 BY Ben Willsher. This cover defines what is great about the digital canvas as it looks like an animated cover featuring Dredd in the rain ready for anything. What an achievement for a comic cover.

This book also benefits with the insights of how the artists made the covers and what they were aiming for and also how they impacted writers and other artist as well. The artists also talk about the importance of thought balloons and how much they played in the whole cover image. One thing that also shines through is how much people love to draw Dredd and how his uniform has remained constant for 35 years. The covers are right up to May of this year so shows how up to date this book really is.

Overall this book is for devoted fans and people who want to see some truly inspiring and quite frankly game changing comic art across the last 35 years.

GS RATING: 4.5/5

ISBN: 978-1-78108-044-3

Price: £40 (special edition £50)

Pages: 272

Published: 13th September

Source: 2000AD
GS Reporter: Montoya

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