The opening spread of the "banned" Judge Dredd episode from 2000AD Prog 72.

‘Banned’ Judge Dredd episodes mocking McDonalds, Burger King and more to be reprinted for first time

The opening spread of the "banned" Judge Dredd episode from 2000AD Prog 72.
The opening spread of the “banned” Judge Dredd episode from 2000AD Prog 72.

For the very first time since their first publication in 2000AD, the ‘banned’ episodes of Judge Dredd from the late 1970s are to be reprinted as Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth Uncensored.

Published in the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic in 1978, “The Cursed Earth” was the first great Judge Dredd epic, but the story ran into trouble when two episodes – “Burger Wars” (Prog 72, written by “TB Grover” – John Wagner – and drawn by Mike McMahon)  and “Soul Food” (Prog 77, written by Jack Adrian, drawn by Brian Bolland) – featured parodies of Burger King, Ronald McDonald, the Jolly Green Giant, the Michelin Man, and a number of other prominent corporate characters in a raucous and shameless satire of American consumer culture.

A page from "Burger Wars", published in 2000AD Prog 72
A page from “Burger Wars”, published in 2000AD Prog 72

After concerns of legal action at the time the then publisher IPC decided all subsequent collections of this classic strip would omit the satirical stories.

Now, following recent changes in UK law governing parody, Rebellion have announced that next July, Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth Uncensored will reprint the story in its entirety for the first time.

Brian Bolland's original cover art for 2000AD Issue 77
Brian Bolland’s original cover art for 2000AD Issue 77
The opening page of the 'banned' Judge Dredd episode published in 2000AD Prog 77.
The opening page of the ‘banned’ Judge Dredd episode published in 2000AD Prog 77.

Ben Smith, head of books and comic books at Rebellion Publishing, said: “The most common question we have been asked at conventions over the years is ‘Will you be reprinting ‘Burger Wars’?’ It’s a delight, and frankly a relief, to be able to finally say ‘Yes!’ Our mission to make the entire run of Judge Dredd available has seen each volume become a bestseller throughout the last decade. In this special edition of The Cursed Earth you’ll see pages from the legendary artists Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon, unseen for 37 years, in unparalleled quality.”

To be published on both sides of the Atlantic next July and priced at £25 in the UK and $35 in North America, this sparkling action-packed parody from Pat Mills (Charley’s War) and John Wagner (Judge Dredd), complete with sumptuous colour spreads from Brian Bolland (The Killing Joke) and Mick McMahon (The Last American), is being produced in a deluxe edition featuring all the previously banned content, with the colour content also restored for the first time.

The most-requested reprint in 2000AD history (the ‘banned’ issues much sought on eBay), The Cursed Earth saw Judge Dredd travel into the irradiated wastelands of middle America to deliver a vaccine to Mega-City Two on the West Coast, encountering a bizarre world of dinosaurs, murderous mutants, aliens, and deadly terrain in an insanely imaginative rollercoaster ride through the twisted landscape of American culture.

In ‘Burger Wars’, after World War Three self-styled ‘burger barons’ had taken control of whole areas of middle America and were worshipped with religious zeal. In a story that opened in Prog 71, Dredd and his comrades are captured and forced to consume burgers and shakes, only escaping thanks to the guards being fat and lazy due to too much fast food. They are then captured by the rival side and placed on trial for eating “the wrong kind” of burger.

In ‘Soul Food’, on their way through the Great Utah Dustbowl Dredd encounters the copyright infringing creations of Dr. Moreau-like scientist Dr Gribbons – including a Jolly Green Giant, a Michelin Man, and others – who drugs Dredd’s team in order to remove fluid from their nervous systems to keep his creations alive.

“Soul Food” so infuriated the makers of Green Giant that they insisted a re-write be made, distancing themselves from the evil Green Giant in the episode. The Drokk and Stomm tumblr notes artist Mick McMahon refused, so Brett Ewins was drafted in to create an  apology, explaining that this must have been another Jolly Green Giant!

This grudging (or should that be grudding?) apology to the Green Giant featured in a later issue of 2000AD
This grudging (or should that be grudding?) apology to the Green Giant featured in a later issue of 2000AD

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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