A page from the Judge Dredd “The Cursed Earth” story, drawn by Brian Bolland, subject of controversy when first published, and previously offered at auction in 2021, is again on sale through on ComicLink.
On offer is the title page of 2000AD Prog 77 featuring Judge Dredd in the hands of the “Jolly Green Giant”, the trademarked character of the eponymous food company, who took exception to their character being used in the storyline.
The artwork is one of several pieces of art by Brian that was stolen from the archives of 2000AD’s original publisher, IPC. Back in 2021, when this art was previously auctioned, we understand Comic Link and Brian Bolland came to an agreement about the sale.
In “The Cursed Earth”, Judge Dredd is captured by the famous advertising mascot, who accuses him of trespassing on his farm part of the “Cursed Earth” saga where the lawman meets Dr. Gribbons, a mad scientist parody of KFC mascot Colonel Sanders. Gribbons creates an army of sentient corporate mascots through his experiments on human brain matter, including the Jolly Green Giant.
This element of “The Cursed Earth”, episodes written by John Wagner and Chris Lowder, sparked a lawsuit against IPC, then publishers of 2000AD from McDonald’s, Burger King, and Green Giant, who were unimpressed by use of their trademarked mascots, especially as one scene featured Ronald McDonald executing an “employee” for spilling a milkshake.
As related in Judge Dredd: The Mega-History, IPC settled the complaint out of court, publishing a half-page retraction and agreed never to reprint the offending episodes, but after copyright law changed in 2014, allowing the use of copyright-protected characters for parody, Rebellion, owners of 2000AD, released Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth Uncensored, a collection of The Cursed Earth storyline in that included the “banned” episodes. (We reported on its impending publication here, in 2015).
As we noted back in 2021, the story of stolen Judge Dredd art – and, indeed, other art once held by then copyright owner IPC – dates back to the 1980s and is a little complicated, but in essence, if you own a page of 2000AD art and it’s not signed by Brian Bolland, in red ink, at the bottom of the page, then you own stolen property.
The name ‘Green Giant’ was first used in 1925 for the brand “Green Giant Great Big Tender Peas” and the figure of the Giant came along a few years later. At first the giant was portrayed as a grumpy caveman, but in 1935 legendary ad man Leo Burnett revised the face of the brand, adding the leafy suit and putting in the word “Jolly” in front of his name. The Giant first appeared in TV commercials in 1954 and his signature tagline “Ho, Ho, Ho” was added in 1961.
With thanks to Jon Hodges
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.