I was in my pre-teens when my father gave me copies of 2000Ad Prog 4 and Prog 9 which along with Carl Barks ducks comics and Frank Hampson's Dan Dare got me hooked on comics for life. Thirty years later I'm eagerly awaiting Dredd's second incarnation on film and a vote of confidence from Dredd co-creator John Wagner gives me hope this will be a more accurate portrayal of a character that's grown as I've grown up with. ( Unlike his American counterparts Dredd has aged in real time in his comic book world)
Several months after the wrap of shooting in Cape Town, South Africa, the first glimpse of Judge Dredd in action arrives today with the release of the trailer for Dredd. It promises to be a more faithful adaption of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's creation than the 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone and made on a fraction of that films budget. Wisely producers DNA Films and scriptwriter Alex Garland have opted for a more modest story than Stallone's convoluted epic. The new film depicts a night on the job for Dredd as he takes rookie Judge Anderson through her paces. Instead of the hyper futuristic cityscapes synonymous with Dredd's world we will see something a bit closer to our reality through budgetary concessions. Dredd's uniform has translated well to film looking similar to Dredd's appearances in early stories drawn by Mick McMahon and Ron Turner.
The obvious New Zealand connection with the new Dredd film is Dredd himself being portrayed by New Zealand actor Karl Urban. Urban's insistence at an audition that Dredd's face never be revealed in keeping with his appearance in comics was an early good omen for faithful fans.
The other slightly reaching New Zealand connection is Dredd scriptwriter Alex Garland's father is English cartoonist Nicholas Garland who emigrated with his family to New Zealand at age eleven in 1946. In 1954 Garland returned to London to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. In London Garland became enamored with the work of Wally Fawkes through his Flook strip in the Daily Mail. He was also a fan of the artists of early Mad magazine, Will Elder, Wally Wood and Jack Davis. Garland's initial professional work was for Queen Magazine and The Spectator and he has consequently worked well into his seventies including almost forty years at The Daily Telegraph, finishing up in March 2011.
In the mid sixties Garland collaborated with Australian Barry Humphries to produce their Barry Mckenzie strip for Private Eye. Barry Mckenzie detailed the exploits of a strong jawed Australian in London and was commonly used by Humphries to jeer at some element of English life that he found particularly repellent or fatuous. The Strip was very successful and even spawned two feature films. It was discontinued in 1974 after a disagreement with editor Richard Ingram.