The latest issue of Judge Dredd Megazine comes crammed with its usual mix of Dredd universe-inspired thrills, including “Concrete Sky” – a ‘floppy’ reprint of “Judge Karyn” strips by myself and artist Adrian Salmon, continuing the early 1990s reprints that began last issue comprising my only foray into 2000AD-related storytelling to date.
The reprint also features what was intended to be a larger tale, a taster for a series called ‘Cabal’ that was intended to do away with ‘Exorcist Judges’ (most of whom I seem to have killed off in “Concrete Sky”) and replace them with a much meaner, secretive means to deal with demons and devils that threatened Mega City One.
The Megazine itself wraps its latest “Judge Dredd” and “Judge Anderson” stories in preparation for the landmark 350th issue next month, and continues the creator-owned “The Man from the Ministry” by Gordon Rennie and Kev Hopgood, which offers a glorious tongue-in-cheek homage to Quatermass and Dan Dare that is fast developing into a must-read tale.
“Concrete Sky” was the first story I worked on with Adrian Salmon where I knew he would be the artist drawing it (having been a sudden swap out for Kevin Cullen for “Karyn: Skinner”, the first Karyn story I wrote). Knowing his strengths I hoped the script played to him although looking back on it now it was unfair to ask him to draw an entire reborn New York cityscape on one page, because I didn’t get it! Of the stories reprinted, looking back at it now, “Concrete Sky” hangs together the best and the follow up Karyn stories I wrote are pretty dire, to be frank.
Art-wise, Adrian provides some wonderful homage and of course there’s his almost trademark use of a famous face as a character, just for fans of the actor, in “Concrete Sky”.
While most of the ‘floppy’ is black and white, one story is in colour – “Cabal”, a bewildering scene-setting story that was intended to be the launch of a new character for the Meg that never happened. Published in 1995, “Cabal” was a two-part follow-up to the “Karyn: Psi Division” stories, showing the disbanding of Psi Division’s exorcist judges. It was intended to be ongoing, but I was diverted into coming up with characters and stories for the new junior Judge Dredd comic, Judge Dredd Adventures, at that point (none of which were published, I seem to recall), so “Cabal” went, permanently as it turned out, on the back burner.
Although I’ve worked in the comics industry almost continuously for 25 years, it’s mainly as an editor. So it’s a rare thing for me to see my name on a comic cover of any kind (provided by Jason Brashill, who was a long-time 2000AD artist and now, it appears, works solely in the computer game industry). Thank you, then, 2000AD, for the last two issues of Judge Dredd Megazine; thank you, former editor David Bishop for the opportunity to play, albeit briefly, in the Dredd universe all those years ago; and thanks, especially to Adrian Salmon for his fine work, especially on ‘Concrete Sky’. It was fun while it lasted!
• There are full details of Judge Dredd Megazine Issue 348 here on the official 2000AD web site and you can read out story on last issue here