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Judge Dredd

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Judge Dredd

Judge Dredd is a fictional character created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra. He first appeared in the second issue of 2000 AD (1977), which is a British weekly anthology comic. He is the magazine’s longest-running character. He also appears in a number of film and video game adaptations.

Judge Dredd made his live-action debut in 1995 in Judge Dredd, portrayed by Sylvester Stallone. Later, he was portrayed by Karl Urban in the 2012 adaptation Dredd. In audio dramas by Big Finish Productions, Dredd is voiced by Toby Longworth.

Publication history

When comics editor Pat Mills was developing 2000 AD in 1976, he brought in his former writing partner, John Wagner, to develop characters. Wagner had written a Dirty Harry-style “tough cop” story, “One-Eyed Jack“, for Valiant, and suggested a character who took that concept to its logical extreme. In a 1995 interview, Wagner said: “When Pat was putting together 2000 AD, we realised from the success of “One-Eyed Jack” this was the kind of story the paper should have – a really hard, tough cop.”[5]

By this stage, Wagner had quit, disillusioned that a proposed buy-out of the new comic by another company, which would have given him and Mills a greater financial stake in the comic, had fallen through.[14] Mills was reluctant to lose Judge Dredd and farmed the strip out to a variety of freelance writers, hoping to develop it further. Their scripts were given to a variety of artists as Mills tried to find a strip which would provide a good introduction to the character. This Judge Dredd would not be ready for the first issue of 2000 AD, launched in February 1977.[15]

Judge Dredd’s first appearance, in an advert in 2000AD #1 (26 February 1977). Art by Mike McMahon, from a story later published in #6.

Wagner soon returned to the character, starting in prog 9. His storyline, “The Robot Wars”, was drawn by a rotating team of artists (including Ezquerra), and marked the point where Dredd became the most popular character in the comic, a position he has rarely relinquished.[20] Judge Dredd has appeared in almost every issue since,[note 4] most of the stories written by Wagner (in collaboration with Alan Grant between 1980 and 1988).

In 1983, Judge Dredd made his American debut with his own series from publisher Eagle Comics, titled Judge Dredd.[21] It consisted of stories reprinted from the British comic, but since 2012 IDW Publishing has published a variety of Judge Dredd titles featuring original stories. Since 1990, Dredd has also had his own title in Britain, the Judge Dredd Megazine. With Wagner concentrating his energies on that, the Dredd strip in 2000 AD was left to younger writers, including Garth EnnisMark MillarGrant Morrison and John Smith. Their stories were less popular with fans, and sales fell.[22] Wagner returned to writing the character full-time for 2000 AD in 1994.

In 2012, Dredd was one of 10 British comic characters commemorated in a series of stamps issued by the Royal Mail.[25][26]

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