2000 AD Prog Slog

Friday, July 31, 2009

Judge Dredd The Megazine 2.46 05/02/94

In Return of the Taxidermist, Jacob Sardini is persuaded out of retirement, back into the world of competitive taxidermy and is representing Mega City One in the 2116 Mega-Olympics hosted by Nepal. However, the physical and emotional pressures he is under are amplified when the military force him to robotically animate the recently killed Mahama, Nepal’s spiritual leader.

This is probably one of the best strips The Megazine has run is a long time. The first thing to note is that any tiny doubts I have expressed about John Wagner recently have been instantly dismissed by this tale. Joining him as artist is the excellent Ian Gibson who none of us has seen for ages and who has probably been away gallivanting in American comics. They work brilliantly together, pitching this tale perfectly, getting the balance between humour and dignity absolutely right. Sardini’s skills, subtlety and inspiration in his field that lead, eventually, to him winning the gold over his much younger competitors is a totally appropriate analogy to how this strip and its creators might appear compared to their current peers in The Magazine. Every line said and drawn by the pair is perfectly considered and timed.

A couple of other observations about this strip for you; It’s confusing as to why, on the cover I’ve uploaded here for today’s entry, Gibson’s image is reproduced so small. It looks as if it was originally drawn as a full cover image and yet for some ill informed reason, somebody (I’ve decided to blame editor David Bishop) has decided to shrink it down and fill the space left with dreary text. Some of the covers for The Magazine recently have been very unappealing so to see such misguided editorial design executed here is just so baffling that I’m feeling almost cross at my perceived arrogance behind the decision.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that the animated staring competition sketch that appeared regularly in TV’s Big Train can be traced to this strip. My memory is that Graham Linehan, one of the shows writers, picked up a copy of The World Stare-out Championship Final from GOSH comics in London and contacted cartoonist Paul Hatcher about it appearing on the show. In Return of the Taxidermist, one of the Mega-Olympic sports is staring. The world of comics is a small place and I can’t help wonder if Hatcher had read the strip a few years earlier and then nearly forgot about it.

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  • When it comes to the Taxidermist I can do nothing but nob in dumb agreement. Its a wonderful strip with all the best of Wagner (and indeed Gibson) combining sublime characteriation with ridiculiously wonderful satire. Brillant.

    As for the cover I really want to admire it as a brave attempt (along with a number of similar covers during this period) to do something striking and different but its so clearly wrong you can't.

    Since we're speculating on why this has been done (well you are!) I have a horrible feeling its actually been done as a money. I'm sure all the art used in these covers isn't original to the cover and has been used elsewhere be it in the strip itself or as in this case a poster I'm sure I've seen elsewhere. Those on a cash strapped magazine you save a load of money having to commission new cover art. That's my guess

    By Blogger Colin, at 8:58 am  

  • Back to The Slog after a refreshing holiday and I'm tempted to go back and comment on all the entries I've missed but I think I'll leave it for now.

    I've recently acquired a sizable stash of old Megs so it's interesting to read about what I'm going to be letting myself in for.

    By Blogger Peter, at 5:19 pm  

  • Actually, Colin, I think the art for this cover was done especially for it as it got reproduced at full size on the back. Great strip though.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:43 pm  

  • Welcome back, Peter.

    By Blogger Paul Rainey, at 5:43 pm  

  • Ha - well at least I was right about having seen the art as a poster somewhere!

    By Blogger Colin, at 1:32 pm  

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