2000 AD Prog Slog

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Judge Dredd Annual 1981

It feels as if the editors at 2000 AD had been siphoning off some of the budget for annuals from previous years so that, this year, they can publish some kind of Uber-book in the form of this, the Judge Dredd Annual for 1981. The contrast between this and the first 2000 AD annual, hell, this and this year's 2000 AD annual, is massive. It’s just fantastic!

Firstly, the paper quality and reproduction is top notch. In fact, even after all these years, the copy I just finished reading still smells new (and we all know how important the sense of smell is in the comic reading experience, don't we). Secondly, although there are some features, all the strips are original and by established acts. We got Max Normal in the shuggy hall by Alan Grant and John Casanovas. A surprisingly enjoyable The Spirit tribute Walter the Wobot strip by Gary Rice and Brendan McCarthy. Kevin O'Neill's Shok, the first 2000 AD strip to be made into a film, Hardware, although, admittedly, it was without permission. We got three, count 'em, three judge Dredd strips written by John Wagner and fully painted by Mike McMahon. And all inside a dynamic cover by Brian Bolland. I don't know about you but I am spent just thinking about it.

Pages from Compulsory Purchase, the story of a still living citizen having to donate his heart to someone more important, were reproduced on newsprint in the weekly to promote the book. I remember thinking how good it looked but £1.80 was well out of my price range. I never got given it for Christmas either, unlike the still inferior 2000 AD annual. Now, twenty-seven years later, the first Judge Dredd annual is as good as I hoped it would be. Well worth the wait.

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  • On my Christmas list I was allowed to choose one annual and I went for the Judge Dredd one as I expected it to be cooler. And it was. Then I must have bought the 2000AD one after Christmas in the sales as I still have them both. You're so right about the smell!

    By Blogger Ben, at 10:39 am  

  • I wonder if my Dad sought out the 2000 AD Annual for me. He might not have thought to look for a Judge Dredd Annual...

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 12:15 pm  

  • I remember being slightly disappointed with the McMahon artwork in this because of the lack of dense blacks I knew and loved from the weekly. It looks better with hindsight, and one certainly couldn't complain about the sheer amount comic goodness. Yeah, it felt significantly different than the fairly ordinary 2000AD annual, it felt like love went into it. Next years was even better, McMahon artwork wise anyway.

    By Blogger mat_tait, at 11:48 pm  

  • Mat, that's it - Love! Whereas annuals like Star Lord 1981 were made with contempt.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 12:20 pm  

  • The early Dredd annuals are works of beauty.

    By Blogger garageman, at 2:56 pm  

  • Totally - a different league from the rather slap-dash approach to the Dredd's stable-mates.

    Remember the risible Blake's 7 Starlord annual?

    By Blogger Stavros, at 2:58 pm  

  • Stavros, I have no idea what that is.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 3:39 pm  

  • I have a distinct memory of the last Starlord annual (1980 maybe?)which had, instead of original artwork, a stock BBC photo of The Liberator from Blake's 7 on the cover.

    Shit - if I'm wrong about this I'm in serious trouble: everyone's allowed a bit of licence when it comes to childhood memories, but to fantasise about something as banal as THAT.......

    By Blogger Stavros, at 4:34 am  

  • Yes, the smell of a new annual was amazing. I still love the smell of a new book. It's definitely part of the experience.

    By Blogger dmstarz, at 8:21 pm  

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