Bank Holiday Monday saw the return of Lawgiver, the one and only UK fan-run convention, which celebrates all things Dredd. I loved last year’s event, so it was never even a question of whether or not I’d go back for second helpings. What can I say? I’m a greedy geek.

The change of venue from a Birmingham bar to the Doubletree by Hilton in Bristol was a vast improvement, giving the whole event a more polished, professional feel, while the expansion from two rooms to five (with two panel rooms, a games room, dealers’ room and artist room) meant that there was much more space and a lot more to see and do, not to mention more of a chance to chat to the artists and writers who help make Dredd into the comic character we know and love.

Having said that, despite the larger venue, Lawgiver MkII has managed to retain the warm, welcoming, and intimate atmosphere which helped make Lawgiver such a wonderful experience last year. Plus there was free tea, coffee and water supplied throughout the day, which ok, isn’t really anything to do with Dredd, but my tea habit and I really appreciated it – and I’m sure the same goes for the Judge cosplayers, as those costumes look like they might get a tad overheated during the day.

There was a great guest line up again too, with the likes of David Roach, Michael Carroll, Pete Doherty, Jock, Patrick Goddard, Dave Taylor, John Higgins, Nick Percival, Ryan Brown, Dylan Teague, and Rob Williams all appearing on various panels to talk, and in one case, demonstrating some impressive multi tasking skills by simultaneously eating a pizza. I’ve seen a couple of people mention that they’d have preferred it if the eight panels scheduled had not run two at a time as they’d like to have seen them all; trust me, I would too, but I think this approach was for the best as it created a natural crowd control so there were always enough seats, and again contributed to a really lovely, informal atmosphere. Attending a panel actually felt more like a chat with mates.

The panels themselves had some great themes; my choices were “Absolutely Badass”, a discussion on women in the Dreddverse; “If My Time Machine Was Working”, a discussion on which ideas or stories the panellists wish they could steal; “Question Time”, on whether the Justice Department is a force for good or evil, and “Mega Architecture”, on how different artists depict Mega-City One and why. I felt a couple of panels could have benefitted from some stronger moderation in order to fully explore the topics, in particular Absolutely Badass, which barely scratched the surface on all the amazing women who inhabit the Dreddverse. That being said, all the panels were entertaining and interesting, even if one or two did wander off into the Cursed Earth of Offtopic. My favourite panel of the day was Question Time, ably hosted by Judge Pal, and which drew some fascinating if disturbing comparisons between justice in the Dreddverse and our own world.

In between panels, if your wallet was feeling a bit heavy or if, like me, you lack any form of self-control, the dealer room was absolutely packed with stands featuring Dredd
merch and assorted geek shiny; and in the artist room you could pick up prints, original art or commission sketches, or even just chat to some of the artists – Pete Doherty, Nick Percival, David Roach, Dylan Teague, Ryan Brown and Rob Williams all had stands there and were really approachable. Special mention here to Dylan Teague for not taking offence when I called his mutant tapeworm a penis-monster. If you weren’t busy exercising your bank cards like me, then there was also the games room which included competitions, film replicas and props and the chance to show off your shooting skills with a Nerf gun.

There were also a huge number of Judge Dredd cosplayers in attendance, so with innumerable judges, Judge Death, Dead Man and even the Homeless Guy from the 2012 Dredd movie, there were plenty of fun photo opportunities, while the presence of so many judges of course ensured that no perps spoilt anyone’s day.

Lawgiver is a top day out for any Dredd fan – combining inclusivity and informality with some great guests, it’s not to be missed. If you weren’t able to make this year, then keep an eye out for Lawgiver MkIII which has already been confirmed. Thanks to Rule 32 Promotions and Su Haddrell for a fantastic day and a truly unique event!

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