Recent Dorkiness

All the Pretty Fascists: the Art of Judge Dredd

So after a conversation with a friend sent me off looking at Judge Dredd art tonight, I slowly realized how many really great, crazy stylists have been given a crack at ol’ bullet head over the years. And, since I’d utterly failed to pull together any of the various posts I’d intended to work on today… I figured maybe a small Dredd gallery was in order.

The look and feel of the character, the base from which all the later artists were allowed to riff so wildly, was established pretty firmly by his co-creator, artist Carlos Ezquerra.

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

By the time this cover appeared in 1983, Ezquerra and writer John Wagner had established the basics of Dredd pretty firmly: he’s an over-the-top hard-ass, an heroic fascist whose adventures are equal parts action, drama, ridiculous black humor, and social satire. You root for him, in part, because it’s funny to root for him, in the best snotty, adolescent, burn-that-shit-down punk rock spirit. Of course, you also cheer him on because Dredd is a genuine hero, a man of honor fighting for a system he believes in to the core of his being.

That tension has always defined the strip for me, and it was probably best-conveyed to American audiences by Brian Bolland, whose cover for the first American Judge Dredd comic pretty much tells you everything you need to know:

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Bolland was also an influence on a later Dredd artist who’s a big favorite here on the nerd farm: Frazer Irving. His work on a story about Judge Death gets pretty phantasmagorical…

Irving Judge Death 2

…but it also featured a cover that’s a direct homage to Bolland’s cover to The Killing Joke:

 

Irving Judge Death

But we’re still lounging in the realm of the more or less on-model here. Over the years, the fine folks at 2000 AD have gotten really freaky with some of their Dredd art. There’s the cartoony cool of Jamie Hewlett…

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Hewlett Dredd

…the vein-popping extremes of Kevin O’Neill…

ONeill Dredd

…the Kirbyesque strangeness of Shaky Kane…

Shaky Kane Dredd Firmament

…and finally, the image I’ll leave you with, scanned from one of the few 2000 AD progs I personally own: the psychedelic weirdness of Brendan McCarthy:

click to embiggen

click to embiggen

Actually… I lied. There is one other Judge Dredd image I wanted to share. But it’s not artwork. No, it’s a photograph of Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra that may explain a thing or three about the inspiration for Dredd’s distinctive chin and scowl…

Carlos Ezquerra

 

 

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About Mark Brett (400 Articles)
Shaved Yeti. Alien. Writer of stuff. Read my fiction at http://reportsfromthefieldblog.wordpress.com/. Read my thoughts on comic books and other dork culture ephemera at https://dorkforty.wordpress.com/.

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