Editor of 2000 AD & Judge Dredd Megazine, and also writer of Judge Dredd: Year One, Matt Smith responds to my questions. Tharg the Mighty could not be reached for comment.
Red-Headed Mule: How’s the weather at the 2000 AD offices? What does Tharg think of the inclement conditions?
Matt Smith: Tharg’s full protected from the UK’s never-ending winter by his fully insulated jumpsuit. Besides, the ever-present glow of Thrill-power keeps all the droids warm.
RHM: Why did you choose to use the psychic angle for Dredd: Year One? What other story possibilities did you seriously consider?
MS: I thought it would be interesting to see Dredd’s first dealings with Psi-Division. We first became aware of psychic Judges when we were introduced to Anderson in the Judge Death story, but this is Dredd’s first dip in the psychic pool – and it’s not something he’s comfortable with.
I wanted to go for something that would give the opportunity for big visuals, which would suit comics.
RHM: How did you decide on Simon Coleby (The Simping Detective) as the artist for Dredd: Year One?
MS: He was a couple of weeks off finishing Simp for 2000 AD, knew he could do a good Dredd, and suggested him to Chris Ryall at IDW. The fact the has experience working for US publishers was a bonus.
RHM: What research did you do for Dredd: Year One? Did you read past Dredd strips for inspiration?
MS: A bit of rereading of Origins, but that was about it. I didn’t want to make it particularly continuity-heavy – hopefully, it should be a good story rather than a history lesson.
RHM: Have you encountered confusion from readers about the upcoming Year One comic & your novella, City Fathers?
MS: Not that I’m aware of.
RHM: Was it a deliberate decision to have two months of Dredd one-off strips to start the year?
MS: You mean in the prog? That’s just the way the stories fell. Take a look at Case Files Vol 9 and it was pretty much an entire year of one-offs in 1986.
RHM: In his 2000 AD strip, Dredd’s dealing with the Sovs currently [as of Prog 1824]. Do you have plans to involve other nations like Hondo-Cit anytime soon?
MS: No current plans. Dredd’s got enough on his plate dealing with the fallout from the Chaos Bug.
Big week: releases of Dredd: Year One (variant cover by Carlos Ezquerra), 2000 AD Prog 1824 (cover by D’Israeli), and Judge Dredd Megazine #334 (cover by Neil Roberts).
RHM: How do you feel about the awareness of Dredd in the US? Is there anything you’re thinking of to raise awareness of 2000 AD for potential readers, American or elsewhere?
MS: Dredd’s got a moderately high recognition level in the US (after 36 years of comics and two movies, he should have!), so US comics readers are aware of him, even if they don’t embrace him the way UK readers do. Too uncompromising, maybe.
We’re taking part once again in Free Comic Book Day, which is great platform to raise the comic’s profile, and we’re going even bigger this year with a 48pp issue, featuring a new Dredd story.
RHM: Have you spoken with the Dredd IDW creative team (Swierczynski, Daniel, et. al)?
MS: I met Duane in San Diego, but it’s his editor Chris Ryall at IDW that I deal with with regards to scripts, approving artwork, etc.
RHM: Would you tell your non-UK audience why the 2000 AD weekly comic & Judge Dredd Megazine are a good value?
MS: Well, for a start you get a lot more bang for your buck. Why settle for 20pp of comics that you get from US publishers when you can get 28pp per issue in 2000 AD? Plus 2000 AD being weekly, the stories move with a lot more momentum, there’s no hanging around, no decompression.
With the Megazine you get 128pp per month of comics and interviews. Both titles have an incredible range of styles, and creators are given a lot of freedom to experiment and tell their stories their way, rather than by committee.
RHM: Editing the weekly 2000 AD and the monthly Megazine seems tough. How do you manage the stress?
MS: We’re under constant threat of dismemberment by Mek-Quake if we foul up. Stress isn’t an option.
RHM: Recently, the collection of Dredd/Batman comics was released. What Marvel or DC character would you want Dredd to meet next?
MS: Dredd going up against The Punisher seems like a good fit. Or maybe we could finally get around to Dredd vs Superman.
RHM: Will we see Walter the Wobot again?
MS: No current plans, but who knows what John Wagner may have up his sleeve…?
Thanks, Matt! Keep up with the latest Thrills at 2000adonline.com.