downthetubes is undergoing some main site refurbishment...

This blog is no longer being updated

The downthetubes news blog was assimilated into our main site back in 2013.

Hop over to for other British comics news, comic creating guides, interviews and much more!

Friday, 14 September 2012

DREDD 3D Behind the Scenes: Bringing Judge Dredd to Life

With DREDD 3D now in UK cinemas, downthetubes goes behind the scenes to discover the secrets behind the creation of the screen character of Judge Dredd for the well-received film...

New Zealand born, Karl Urban is a huge Judge Dredd fan and like Alex Garland has followed him since his youth.

Karl is most widely known for playing Eomer in the second and third instalments of Peter Jackson’s epic The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the 2009 J.J. Abrams’ smash-hit blockbuster, Star Trek. He played Russian assassin, Kirill in Paul Greengrass’ action thriller, The Bourne Supremacy alongside Matt Damon, and won acclaim for his performances in New Zealand films, The Price of Milk and Out of the Blue.

In 2010, Urban starred as William Cooper in Robert Scwhwentke’s DC Comics graphic novel adaptation, RED opposite Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Dame Helen Mirren; followed by Preist 3D starring Paul Bettany and Christopher Plumber in 2011.

“We put together a pretty compelling package of mainly rights, producers, script, and a director with a solid track record and all our lead people were excited and on board,” says producer Andrew Macdonald of DREDD 3D as he recalls the casting of Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. “But we wanted to make a film that would be tough and grown up, the violence we required meant it would be R-rated in America and 18 in Europe, so we knew we could only spend about 40 million.

"It was not going to be big-budget, plus we knew we had a character that couldn’t take off his helmet, which we wanted and was in our contract with [Judge Dredd] the Kingsleys. So you can’t then have a huge movie star whose face you don’t see. We needed a great or good actor - as opposed to a marquee name like Will Smith.”

Allon Reich, who co-runs DNA Films with DREDD screen writer Alex Garland, weighs in with his take on casting the iconic character.

"Dredd is an extreme character," he continues, "the ultimate Judge and for him the law is everything. The rules are the rules and he administers justice with an extreme lack of prejudice. He is the best at what he does and the most feared. He brooks no argument and is tough as can be.

"He was inspired by Dirty Harry, is Britain’s longest lasting graphic novel character and remains one of the most loved; what’s more the term ‘Dredd-like’ is common currency even for people who have never even read the comic strip.”

The team needed an actor who would embrace that legacy and not feel hindered by the idea of playing a monolithic icon. Meanwhile, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings star Karl Urban heard that they were rebooting the comic strip for the big-screen and was curious.

“I was very interested because of my history of reading the comics, so I took a meeting with Alex, Andrew, Allon and Pete and listened to their take and it was clear that they wanted to make a radical departure to what had come before and wanted to make a film that was a lot more gritty, realistic and hardcore. A high-octane, action adventure which would be a lot more faithful to the source of the material and that immediately intrigued me.”

Reich says of Urban: “He comes from a kind of interesting place in terms of Star Trek and Lord of the Rings and he brought forward a trip he was making to LA to meet us and it was nice to see the passion. He grew up with the comic and had an attitude towards it and was very excited by the screenplay."

Greg Staples promotional art for
the DREDD 3D motion comic

The actor says his first introduction to Judge Dredd was through the comics.

“I started reading them when I was 16 when I was working in a pizza parlour in Wellington, New Zealand. I was pretty enamoured with the character as I was already a fan of sci-fi and enjoyed the world of Mega City One and I really loved the character of Dredd. He is this hardcore, futuristic lawman, the ultimate lawman in a society where the normal process of justice has changed. There are no more juries and lawyers and protracted legal system, it has all be condensed into one man.

"Since that age I’ve always loved a vigilante-type character and Judge Dredd is one of the best.”

A devout fan, the actor was doubly enthused by the fact that the filmmakers never, ever, wanted to see Dredd’s face, “One of the great aspects of Dredd is that you never fully see his identity. Since he was created in 1977 he was the faceless representation of the law and an enigma and to do anything else just wouldn’t have been Dredd.

“You can’t make the mistake of playing the icon, you have to play the man and he is a man who has an insanely tough job working in this society that is fragmenting and falling apart,” he continues. “His heroism is defined by an ordinary man.

"To me he is closer to those heroic firefighters who went into one of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and you couldn’t be further away from stereotypical superhero because he is not a Superman or Batman. He doesn’t have an alter ego, what you see is what you get and he calls the way he sees it. But the huge challenge for me as an actor was to try and inject as much dynamism as possible.

"It’s tough," he admits. "How do you convey a subtle emotion like doubt or concern when you don’t have the use of your eyes? So it has been a very challenging process.”

Urban says that he has always been attracted to darker roles, “When I approach a character I am interested in faults and flaws and what makes them human and three-dimensional. Dredd is an interesting kettle of fish in that his emotion is completely repressed, any normal social life that he may have enjoyed has been completely burned from his psyche, and in some ways I think he is tragic because he is charged with the job of protecting these people in society but at the same time he is incapable of functioning normally in that society.”

Apart from the psychological and emotional challenges of the role, playing Dredd was, of course, an intensely strenuous assignment. “This has been a very physical role. When I came into the movie and during pre-production I spent time in the gym getting into the right mindset and physical condition and then when I arrived for the shoot I was thrown into a boot camp for about two and a half weeks. That involved weapons training, technical movement, learning how to move under fire, learning to bust ‘perps’, breach doors and arrest people. One of the insane aspects of what I do is constantly learning skills you can never learn in real life!”

Urban was grateful that in making a more realistic version, the tone of DREDD meant they used real weapons and guns, “The lawgiver is a fully functioning weapon based on a 9mm system, so it actually fires and you can change to automatic to semi-auto. It is an added bonus as an actor when you don’t have to imagine it and it is actually there.

"Lawmaster is Dredd’s motorbike and it is based on a 500cc bike with a massive frame built over the top with machine guns, an extended wheel base, the chunkiest tires that they could find and it is a beast of a machine and that was real fun to ride.”

The actor says it was one of the things that he had a strong opinion about, “I thought it was important that the audience got to see me on that bike, riding the bike, weaving in and out of traffic.

"There is no blue-screen/ green-screen trick. When you see Dredd on the bike, you are there for the ride.”

Then there was the question of dialogue and how the Judge would actually speak, Urban had to decide what voice would have leapt out of that comic-strip. “To me in all the research I had done, Dredd’s voice was described like a saw cutting through bone,” he says, “So I felt I was trying to attain a resonance that wasn’t centred in my normal register. It was a lot more harsh and raspy in many ways which can be difficult to sustain and you can’t shout with a rasp, so it has its own set of issues.”

The actor did, however, insist on cutting down the dialogue and found a perfect collaborator in scripter Garland, “If it can be said in one sentence it would be better than three. I wanted it to be very minimalistic with Dredd just saying the bare minimum. And I can’t speak highly enough of Alex and how he helped; we were blessed to have him there. He has made an incredible contribution to this entire movie and for me it was a wonderful asset to have the writer on set. If I have questions about a scene or intentions of a beat I can just ask him and Alex is not precious about it. He is quite happy to improve on the material and is a wonderful collaborator and quite often you will go to him and he will say that is great, what about this and he will take it to you the next step and really elevate the material and improve upon it.”

Keeping consistent with Garland’s vision and staying true to the origins of the Dredd phenomenon was equally important to Urban and he felt truly privileged to meet its co-creator.

“I had the great fortune of meeting John Wagner and he was really lovely and complimentary. I felt somewhat nervous about it: Dredd is his creation and when you meet the creator you hope that you live up to the expectations and I imagine the expectations are pretty high,” the actor says. “I have to say he was really wonderful and was happy with what he saw. He recognised that we are being faithful to his creation and while we are not 100 percent transferring a complete world from comics into the medium of cinema, I think he could see and recognise that the heart of what we are doing is in the right place.”

• 2000AD Online:

Karl will next be seen in the upcoming Star Trek sequel, scheduled for release in 2013

Panel Borders radio show on The Phoenix / new British Horror Films

Panel Borders: The Phoenix

In the first of a new series of Panel Borders, we start a month of shows looking at comic book anthologies with a recording of a panel discussion of the children's comic The Phoenix. Creators Daniel Hartwell (writer: ‘Pirates of the Pangaea’), Neill Cameron (artist: ‘Pirates of the Pangaea’, Adam Murphy (‘Corpse Talk’), Robin Etherington (writer: ‘Long Gone Don’) and Patrice Aggs ('Blimpville') discuss creating serialised comics for children and how the title rose from the ashes of The DFC - hosted by David O'Connell and recorded live at Caption Festival, Oxford.

8pm, Sunday 16th September 2012, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / podcast after broadcast at

I'm ready for my close-up: Home Invasions

With unfortunately apposite timing, following the case of burglars being shot in a Leicestershire break-in at the start of this month, Alex Fitch interviews the directors of two new British horror films that deal with supernatural home invasions and their consequences. Oliver S. Milburn discusses his debut film The Harsh Light of Day which looks at a home owner's Faustian deal with a vampire to get revenge on the thieves who broke into his home and murdered his wife, and Pat Holden talks about his new movie When the lights went out, starring Kate Ashfield (Shaun of the Dead) and produced by Bil Bungar (Moon), and dramatises the story of the 1966 haunting and subsequent exorcism of a semi-detached house in Pontefract.

When the lights went out was released in cinemas on 14th September and The Harsh Light of Day is released on DVD on 1st October - /

11.30pm, Tuesday 18th September, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) / streamed at / podcast after broadcast at

Tough of the Track runs to The Mirror

Sporting comic strip legend Alf Tupper is back in today's Mirror newspaper in a new adventure written by Ferg Handley and drawn by comics veteran Barrie Mitchell, to celebrate this year's Bupa Great North Run.

Working-class, chips-addicted hero Alf appeared in DC Thomson's boys' comics The Victor and The Rover for over 50 years as he took on and beat snooty opponents  with his catchphrase "I've run 'em".

The Tough of the Track has been revived in a new and exclusive story featuring a surprise guest, coming out of retirement for the Run with help from his new training partner – Ethiopian superstar Haile Gebrselassie.

The strip will run online tomorrow, after its debut in the print edition. Grab a copy before it's wrapped around tonight's fish and chip suppers.

Prion Books are publishing A Best of Alf Tupper collection next month, celebrating The Tough of the Track - The Victor's most popular hero,  instilling the competitive spirit into millions of British lads for over 50 years.

A welder who worked under railway arches, Alf Tupper survived on a diet of fish and chips. He was always the underdog, running against posh toffs who devised underhand ways of keeping him off the winner's rostrum. Although Alf often looked beaten, he nearly always came through in the final few strides, exclaiming "I've run him!" as he breasted the winning tape in a photo-finish.

Prion says this nostalgic anthology will not only be the perfect gift for the millions of men whose love of sport was kindled in their youth by Alf Tupper, but will also enthrall and inspire a new generation of boys to go and win against all the odds.

Jokers in the new Pack of Commandos

Here's the intel on the new Commando war comics, on sale now in all good British newsagents...

I recently had a chance to sit down with Commando editor Calum Laird as part of my working day and discuss the future of comics – and digital comics. While he was as canny as ever about Things to Come, I got hints of possible new Commando-related projects in the offing, with a promise of official news as soon as anything was confirmed. Can't wait!

Commando No 4531 - Coming Unstuck
Story: Alan Hebden Art: Carlos Pino Cover: Carlos Pino

 By 1943 the Germans, desperate to counter, the RAF's superfast wooden fighter-bomber, the de Havilland Mosquito, began to build the Focke Wulf Ta154. It was even known as the Moskito!

They soon discovered that holding its wooden structure together wasn't as easy as they thought, and several broke up in in flight. The glue they needed to hold their airframes together was a secret formula only manufactured in Britain.

So the Germans came up with a plan to steal some from the source…only to come up against a bunch of plucky Brits determined to stop them - or come to a very sticky end!

Commando No 4532 - Mario's Express
Story: Stephen Walsh Art: Vila Cover: Ian Kennedy

Colonel Mario Girotti was not really much of a soldier. He was more than happy to be stuck in the North African desert, in charge of a rarely-used railway station. He spent his days listening to classical music on his trusty gramophone or reading poetry.
But the culture-loving Italian's peaceful war was rudely interrupted by the arrival of a group of his fellow countrymen, followed by some Nazis, all bent on escaping the oncoming British onslaught with some looted priceless treasure and, naturally enough, they wanted one of Mario's trains.

Mario decided that maybe the time was right to fight after all!

Commando No 4533 - Blood Valley
Originally Commando No 49 (Dec 1962)
Story: Dorward Art: Philpott Cover: Ken Barr

Every path that led upwards from Blood Valley to the Nazi-held fortress of Cassino was a path of death. On these bullet-swept slopes many a hero had been born - and had died. But still the German flag flew triumphantly from the battlements.
And then the Commandos were sent for - hand-picked Commandos who had their own cunning and courageous ways of bringing arrogant Nazis to their knees.
Here is their heroic story.

“There's a saying that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but in this case it's exactly what you should do! Ken Barr's Commando is loaded with contained menace and pent-up ferocity,” says editor Calum Laird of this story. “Make no mistake, author Dorward is going to put a hard-hitting story in front of you with very few punches pulled. Those of a nervous disposition should look away now.
“The inside art, with Philpott's characteristic dark and brooding lines, backs up this hard edge. At times it's difficult to remind yourself that this really is fiction."

Commando No 4534 - The Jokers
Originally Commando No 2144 (December 1987)
Story: Peter Mackenzie Art: Keith Shone Cover: Ian Kennedy

Alf Cunningham and Percy Potter were the jokers in the pack. Oh, they were good pilots, all right, it was just that they had a nasty habit of landing themselves, and everyone around them, in deep trouble. Not exactly the best pair of men to rely on when there's a German cruiser on the loose in the English Channel!

“The main conflict in this European World War 2 tale is, naturally, between British and German forces,” notes deputy Scott Montgomery of this re-presented tale. “However, there is another conflict going on. One between a couple of rebellious RAF pilots - the “jokers” of the title - and a stuffed shirt Royal Navy officer who they manage to continually annoy.

"Commando thrives on extra story flourishes like this and author Peter MacKenzie keeps the narrative flowing well, as does artist Keith Shone. And, of course, kudos to veteran illustrator Ian Kennedy for yet another stunning aircraft cover - this time of an Avro Anson right in the thick of the action."

downthetubes is pleased to offer an exclusive discount on a subscription to DC Thomson's Commando comic, entitling readers to save 50% by ordering using our special discount code! Follow this link to DC Thomson's subscription page. When prompted, enter this unique code COMDT - then make your payment and your subscription will be up and running! 

• Official Commando web site:

Commando Official Facebook page

• Click here for subscription information or write to: D.C. Thomson & Co Ltd, The Subscribers Department, Commando Library, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL or Freephone (UK only) 0800 318846

Commando is also available for iPad and iPhone. The apps are free to download through the Apple iTunes App Store and a digital subscription is priced at £4.99 per month, compared to a £99 annual print subscription. For those not sure there are four free issues to download prior to making a purchase.

Commando Comics iPhone App on iTunes

• Steadfast! the Commando artwork exhibition at The Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen runs until 30th November 2012. There are more details about the exhibition on the museum website.

CBeebies Mag Goes Digital, complementing print edition

BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment & Games, in collaboration with Immediate Media, has launched a digital version of their best-selling weekly pre-school title, CBeebies Magazine, on the Apple Newsstand on iPhone and iPad, priced at £2.99. 

A free five-page sample is available here on iTunes.

Aimed at children aged 3 to 6 years old, this is the first pre-school magazine app for the CBeebies brand. Packed with fun for "little learners,"CBeebies Magazine's first issue can be downloaded now in the UK.

"Creating a CBeebies Magazine app allows us to reach more families with fun, educational content," said Robert Nashak, EVP Digital Entertainment & Games, BBC Worldwide.

"We're thrilled to be able to bring the brand's magical pre-school world to the portable digital world in such a uniquely interactive way."

Developed by Immediate Media Co. and Mobile IQ and published by BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment & Games, the CBeebies Magazine app offers parents and young children a chance to learn and play with a whole host of favourite CBeebies characters on a new mobile platform. Using a simple and flexible design process, the app brings an authentic CBeebies experience to children in a fun, safe and trusted environment.

Each activity in the app is based on an area of learning which supports early years learning and allows children to interact with CBeebies characters and shows including Mister Maker, Bob the Builder, Waybuloo, Alphablocks and many more.

The new app will have four issues a year, available on subscription for £9.99, and offers a range of features including:

·      A focus on six zones: stickering, colouring, workbook, let's move, story and reward charts

·      Activities that support areas of learning: literacy, math, feeling good, let's move, creativity and

finding out

·      Phonics

·      More than 50 fully interactive puzzles and activities per issue

·      Highly interactive interface which is easy and fun for children to use independently

·      Responsive to multiple input touch points: tap, touch, drag, stretch, swipe

·      Genuine CBeebies character sound effects

·      Informative parent zone for questions and tips

 "We're thrilled that the hugely recognised and trusted CBeebies Magazine brand has translated so well into an app," commenetd Pauline Cooke, Publishing Director of Pre-school at Immediate Media, "and believe we have created a product that's intuitive to how children learn and play.

"The CBeebies Magazine team were central to the development process and their educational expertise remains at the heart of this new product, which we think children and parents will love. There is an abundance of possibilities and opportunities for this app and we can't wait to explore its potential."

The app developers at Mobile IQ have previously worked in partnership with BBC Good Food and Focus Magazines' apps. The app uses PressRun ( which performs the heavy lifting conversion from artwork to HTML5, making the content highly portable across multiple platforms. Using HTML5 enables a 'single source' approach used to target both tablet and smartphone devices, resulting in the digital edition being incredibly interactive whilst only 1/10th the download size of many similar digital magazines.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

DREDD 3D Behind the Scenes - Getting the Story right

Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. Image copyright Reliance Films
Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. Image copyright Reliance Entertainment
With DREDD 3D now in UK cinemas, downthetubes goes behind the scenes to discover the secrets behind the creation of the well-received film...

The future world of Judge Dredd created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra back in 1977 for 2000AD has grown to have a life of its own. With countless stories and characters, it has been voted best British comic and Best Comic in the World Ever at the National Comics Awards.

Now, the endlessly inventive mind of writer Alex Garland brings DREDD to life as a futuristic neo-noir action film that returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's revered comic strip.

"I grew up reading Judge Dredd," says Garland. "The incredible writers and artists of 2000AD were formative influences on me. Andrew, Allon and I have developed this adaptation of the strip with an emphasis on adrenaline and realism, but with all the scale and spectacle of Mega City One.”

And Judge Dredd co-creator John Wagner and 2000AD are on board, “Alex Garland’s script is faithful to the original concept that made Judge Dredd a favourite bad-ass hero," he enthuses. "It’s a high-octane sleigh-ride through the dark underbelly of the vast future city. A fan pleaser.”

Getting the story right

John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra's revered comic strip about a single-minded lawman in a distant future was born over three decades ago and has since spawned a legacy of its own. Novels, magazines, board and card games, computers and role-play games, action figures, duvet covers, pinball machines and even dressing gowns have been devoted to the iconic policeman, judge, jury and executioner who became a legend through a comic-book.

In its heyday in the late 1970s and then under Thatcherism, British comic 2000AD sold 100,000 copies a week, and the young Alex Garland was taken by its dark, visceral, ironic violence.

Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. Image copyright Reliance Films
Karl Urban as Judge Dredd on his Lawmaster. Image copyright Reliance Entertainment
“I was around 10 when I found a copy of 2000AD at the local newsagent and started reading it,” the celebrated screenwriter and novelist says, “I got quite fixated about all of the stuff in there, but particularly Judge Dredd. That story you know of finding 2000AD in a shop and getting hooked on Dredd is really common amongst guys my age…and we’ve all carried something about that into our adult lives, I remember it was partly because Dredd has an adult aspect to it, like I was maybe slightly too young to be reading it. Like watching an 18 certificate film when you were 12, that particular thrill.”

The novelist and screenwriter, famed for his mix of psychological exploration, moral conundrum, and suspenseful plotting in his novels The Beach, The Tesseract and The Coma as well as his intense screenplays for 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Never Let Me Go, says he always thought he’d end up telling stories through comic strips.

“My dad’s a cartoonist, and I always thought I was going to end up doing cartoons. I used to draw comic strips constantly, so I picked up a lot of how to construct a narrative by that.”

He believes that this graphic-novel sensibility comes through in his books which are cinematic, “and comic strips are quite cinematic, the length of the chapters, and the speed with which the plot moves. So it is in my background in one kind of way, a graphic way of dealing with narrative.”

Co-creator of the comic book John Wagner understands Garland’s visceral reaction to his work and believes that the main attraction of Dredd is that he is a combination of good guy and bad guy.

“He’s a real bad-ass cop and in some respects you are all for what he’s doing and in others you think – ‘thank god someone like him doesn’t exist today’.”

That contradictory mix of good and evil is something that he believes is the real drawing force of the legendary character. "Although Dredd would never see himself as villainous, he believes he’s upright and righteous but he is certainly not someone you would want on the streets looking after you, because you’d probably end up inside.”

DREDD 3D Concept Art created by Framestore. Image copyright Reliance Entertainment
More imagery here on i09
Producer Andrew Macdonald first collaborated with Garland when he produced Danny Boyle’s film of The Beach ten years ago. In 2002 Garland wrote 28 Days Later for Boyle and Macdonald, who was now running the UK independent company DNA Films together with Allon Reich. Garland went on to write Danny Boyle’s acclaimed sci-fi thriller Sunshine and adapt Kazuo Ishiguro's masterful novel Never Let Me Go into a moving and provocative film for DNA Films.

The writer was inspired when the company decided to expand its horizons and venture into bigger budget waters with franchise-based, genre pictures aimed at a larger audience base with wider releases. Producers Allon Reich and Andrew Macdonald became aware that they might be able to get the rights to Judge Dredd and Garland would obviously be the perfect talent to pen the script.

Tracking down the rights, however, was intricate says Macdonald, “It was complicated because the film rights had moved through different owners. At one stage Disney owned them, then Stallone’s version. We spent two years getting the rights sorted.” But all along the team had faith that they’d get them and so Alex started working on the first drafts of a script.

The irony is that because the 1995 Stallone vehicle never delivered on the goods it enabled the filmmakers to get this reboot into gear. “It bizarrely enabled us to get the rights,” says Garland, “If the first film had been a smash hit, we would have never got the rights. It opened the door for us. And also we knew that people’s expectations would be defined by that film, so from the beginning we wanted a whole different thing. Something that was much more hard-core and edgy.”

Macdonald echoes Garland’s sentiments, “The rights were held by Rebellion [owners of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine], run by two brothers, Jason and Chris Kingsley, who are also producers and they were very protective and knew the property had value and, like us, wanted to exploit it properly.

"It took a while to convince them that we were the right people but we had just done 28 Days Later and we said we wanted to do it like that. A movie that would not please everyone, which the first one tried to do and ended up diluting Dredd’s character. They changed the tone of the comic which was a big mistake.”

Even the star of that first Dredd film Sylvester Stallone agrees with their criticism, and has been quoted as saying it was a “real missed opportunity... for me it is more about wasting the great potential there was in that didn't live up to what it could have been.”

This time round the filmmakers wanted to remain true to Wagner and Ezquerra's vision and both Reich and Macdonald have always maintained the importance and integrity of the screenwriter and original content.

“We have always taken the view that any originator of material is important to keep on side and it’s vital to work with their wealth of knowledge and information about the material. On Never Let Me Go we worked very closely with Ishiguro and he was very involved at strategic moments,” says Macdonald. “When we wanted to do DREDD, it was essential to go and see if we could get the support of the person whose imagination it first came out of and that was John Wagner and we went to meet him. He has had other novels made into movies and was essentially a sceptic, even though he was perfectly polite!”

Wagner recalls getting an email from Garland requesting a meeting, “I thought ‘aha not another one!’ Then I met up with them and I thought to myself: ‘these guys are genuinely serious?!’

He says he was “desperate for a second Judge Dredd film to be made, because I wanted it to be made right and after our meeting I was impressed by their honesty and I really believed they were serious. I mean the fact that they cared enough to get me involved at such an early stage meant a lot to me.

"In 1995 they made the wrong film; they didn’t read Judge Dredd and just filmed another story. What they were embarking upon this time I knew was going to actually be the Judge Dredd I know.”

Garland was thrilled that they brought in Wagner at the first opportunity, “If at that first meeting John had said I just don’t want another film, the last one was too bruising and he doesn’t work on film and should stay as a comic book character and that’s where he should stay. I think we would have walked away and said fair enough. But I knew Dredd. I read him my whole life and I felt confident we would be able to do this.”

Producer Allon Reich reckons the meeting of minds in Garland and Wagner was fortuitous and led to a unique cinematic take on Dredd, “It is his creative vision. Alex is a big comic book fan, he grew up with Dredd and is immersed in the world of 2000AD and Mega City One and is also an experienced screenwriter.”

Garland used a lot of the original material, says Reich, but he also made it stand alone as a film in its own right. “It is absolutely his imagination and his creative vision and that is the stamp on this movie, without any question.”

Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. Image copyright Reliance Films
Judge Dredd. Image © Reliance Entertainment
But writing it proved no easy task, “I started writing a story with another character in the Dredd universe, Judge Death, who is a nemesis character for Dredd and worked on that for a year through several drafts,” Garland says, “And in fact that was the first draft that John saw, but I realised I couldn’t crack it so I shifted on to pro-democracy terrorists which is another of the storylines that John created that I found particularly interesting.”

But the writer felt that wasn’t working either as an efficient narrative for the rebooting of Dredd onto the screen.

Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. Image copyright Reliance Films
Judges Anderson and Dredd. Image © Reliance Entertainment
“Suddenly I thought, ‘I keep trying to go too big with this’ - that I needed to be thinking in a more reductive way and think of different kind of stories that John would tell. Which were not the big grand sweeping narratives of which there are many over the course of the Dredd mythology.”

Garland started to pare it all down and look at “some of the punchier stories which are like short stories.”

What he decided was to write a day in the life movie and Wagner couldn’t be more thrilled, “That was what was wrong with the first movie, it was too sweeping. They tried to show far too much. Alex has narrowed it down to a day in the life of Dredd and I think it is so much better for that.”

The long journey to the page proved fruitful and everyone responded to the script with delight, Pete Travis says, “I read Alex’s script and it blew me away. I think Alex created a story that goes beyond your needing to be a fan of the comic. If you live in a city, violence frightens you, and DREDD is set in a future that is not so far from ours. I think he has managed to fashion a character you can really grab hold of.”

Andrew Macdonald sums it up when he says, “What made DREDD possible was that we had a great character and we had a great script. Everyone who read it wanted to do it.”

- DREDD 3D Official website

- 2000AD Official website:

Soulful Creative Bigs up Judge Dredd!

A five metre high strutting Judge Dredd pointing his ‘Lawgiver’ (gun) towards the sky, has been greeting world travellers as they approach London Heathrow Airport for the past week.

The massive 60 square metre graffiti art mural has been created as a tribute piece to the iconic British comic character to tie in with the DREDD 3D re-imagining of the comic book great on an old warehouse unit in Windsor by urban art agency, Soulful Creative, who specialise in creating large-scale artworks.

Soulful Creative founder Koze says, “We grew up with Judge Dredd and 2000AD and we wanted to pay homage to one of Britain's greatest science fiction comic characters, the wonderful stories and artwork that inspired so many over the years.”

The huge mural took two artists only one day to complete, using a mix of emulsion and spray paint to cover the whole side of the warehouse unit directly under the flight path. The dynamic piece has been designed to look like a spread from a comic book and depicts Judge Dredd aiming he's lawgiver into the air with his famous catch phrase ‘I AM THE LAW’ painted in bright orange and red colours in perspective next to him.

Soulful Creative is an urban art creative agency who specialise in creating unique and inspirational visual communications, through live art, murals, public art, events and installations. They pride themselves on delivering innovative and inspirational work by assembling the best creative team for each project they work on, comprised of the UK’s leading graffiti artists, street artists, illustrators and contemporary artists.

Soulful Creative have also made a dynamic film of the creation of the mural.

Judge, Jury & Executioner! from Soulful Creative on Vimeo

• More info:

DREDD is Number One!

DREDD 3D has stormed its way to the top of the UK film charts, taking over a million pounds on its opening weekend and trouncing competition that includes the new Total Recall remake - the first 18 certificate film to be Number One since 2010.

Released on Friday and getting some hugely positive reviews from both comics, SF and general media, Karl Urban’s Judge Dredd and Olivia Thirlby’s Judge Anderson take on Lena Headey’s murderous gangleader in this Alex Garland-scripted gorefest that truly earns its 18 certificate.

The day-in-the-life styled film, written by Garland (28 Days Later) and produced by DNA’s Allon Reich and Andrew Macdonald was shot in 3D with stunning slow motion photography.

In the future, America is an irradiated wasteland. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC (as in the 2000AD strip that inspired it) lies Mega City One: a vast, violent metropolis of over 400 million citizens living in perpetual fear. The only ones attempting to impose order in the urban chaos are The Judges. Law enforcers, juries, judges and executioners rolled into one.

The epitome of these Judges is Dredd, given a mission to road test a rookie Judge, the powerful psychic Cassandra Anderson. The Judges head for a seemingly routine homicide in the notorious Peach Trees mega-block - a 200 story vertical slum run by the pitiless Ma-Ma clan. But when the Judges attempt to arrest one of Ma-Ma’s chief henchmen, Ma-Ma shuts down the entire building and orders her clan to hunt the judges down, and they are caught in a vicious and relentless fight for survival...

- 2000AD Official Web Site:


Monday, 10 September 2012

Dez Skinn and Chris J Thompson head to Malta Con

Writer, editor and publisher Dez Skinn - perhaps best known to comic fans for creating Warrior and Comics International and now working on a new international comic magazine - and Pop Culture King Journalist Chris J Thompson, who join the guest line up for Malta Comic Con 2012, which already includes ace artist Mike Carey.

With 42 years of experience in the comic industry and more awards and honours than one dares mention Dez Skinn influence on and contributions to the British comic landscape is immense, rivalled only by a few.

Referred to as the British "Stan Lee" by many, Dez's credits include work for IPC on titles such as Buster and Cor!, running Marvel UK and launching such titles as Doctor Who Weekly, Starburst and Hammer's House of Horror, 16 years editing trade magazine Comics International, creating Warrior comics magazine and founding Quality Communications a vehicle responsible of launching properties such as V for Vendetta he created in 1982 and still steers to date.

Dez is also the author of two books; Comix: The Underground Revolution and Comic Art Now, and is currently providing consultancy services to outside publishers, putting together the pilot issue for a new international comics magazine and co-writing a new feature film.

Chris J. Thompson is an internationally recognised comics retailer, journalist, podcaster and speaker who has attended and spoken at conventions across three continents including San Diego Comic Con where he has a yearly panel.

You can hear him on The Orbiting Pod and Pop Culture Hound podcasts; see his work at First Comic News, Bleeding Cool and various other sites and follow him via Twitter @popculturehound.

"Chris Thompson has been an avid supporter and permanent fixture in the MCC since 2010," says Chris Le Galle co-founder of Wicked Comics.

"During MCC 2011 Chris and fellow journalist Taylor Lilley virtually led all the talks, discussion panels and Q&A sessions, a role they will be reprising this year. Through the various mediums he works in Chris, is constantly assisting Wicked Comics and promoting the Malta Comic Con. With each visit to MCC Chris returns with a new stock of Maltese comic books to sell in England.

"On top of all this Chris always works closely with us, gives us sound advice and not only helps us secure some of the most esteemed guests but also helps us co-ordinate some of the most sought after activities during the convention.

"Throughout the years Chris has been an invaluable source of help, an inspiration in challenging times, an ambassador of both the MCC and Malta at large, and a great friend. This year we decided to invite him as a guest as a small token of appreciation for all his sterling work.

"Simply put, with out him the Malta Comic Con would not be the commendable and successful convention it is today."

• Malta Con 2012 is on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th December 2012 at St. James Cavalier (all floors), Valletta, Malta, between 10am and 6pm on both days. Web:

Sunday, 9 September 2012

SciFi Postcard Book to be released in January 2013

Sci-Fi Art Postcard Book

Just through my door this weekend: an advance copy of the Sci-Fi Art Now postcard book ILEX asked me to compile earlier this year, which features illustrations by a number of British comic artists, including Rian Hughes, Smuzz and Dave Taylor.

With a cover by Patrick J. Jones, it features some art used in the Sci-Fi Art Now book and other illustrations - 30 gorgeous SF-inspired postcards in total.

The artists featured are: Larry Blamire, Matt Gaser, Rian Hughes, Stuart Jennett, Paul McCaffrey, Aaron Jasinski, Patrick J. Jones, Michael Kaluta & Lee Moyer, Tom Kelly, Yigit Koroglu, John Malcolm, Sergey Musin, Nemons, 2012 Hugo and Chelsey Award-winning John Picacio, Neil Roberts, Steve Sampson, Smuzz (who I'm working with on the Crucible comic), John Sullivan, Dave Taylor and Oliver Wetter.

My thanks to them all for being part of this spin-off, which is set to be published in January and looks absolutely fantastic! Thanks also to editor Tim Pilcher and the ILEX team for creating another great book.

The collection is one of a series of Postcard books published by ILEX, which have been well received and sold very well in the UK. They include:  

Army Camp! 30 Postcards That Do Ask and Do Tell! - A riotous introduction to the unintentionally homoerotic side of military life. Classic images date from between 1914 to 1946, when armies everywhere were crying out for fit, toned men to join up, bond together and make the world a better place.  

Fantasy Art - Includes art by Robert Chang, Matt Dixon, Raymond Swanland and Matt Gaser featuring modern twists on traditional themes such as dragons, orcs, fairies and adventurers.  

Lovelorn - 30 of the very best in cult romance comics of the 1950s. From Brides in Love and Romantic Hearts to G.I. Sweethearts and Romantic Adventures there are dozens of romantically quirky postcards ready for you to send to your beloved!  

Tales of Terror - 30 of the scariest, most bizarre and downright strange horror comics covers. These pre-code horror comics make an ideal gift and are perfect to send chills in the post, or to simply keep and laugh at the uncanny covers. Each cult postcard includes the title, artist, publisher and publication date on the back.  

Tattoos: 30 Postcards to Colour and Send - A fun, interactive postcard set includes 30 of the coolest designs by top manga artist and tattooist, Jian Yi. All the designs are clear line drawings of everything from fairies and flowers to dragons and tigers, and are easy to complete and colour, before wowing friends and family with a piece of original art through the post.  

Vampires: 30 Postcards - Artists from different backgrounds and cultures share their versions of the vampire in their chosen medium. Each postcard includes the titles, artist, publisher and publication date on the back.  

More about Sci-Fi Art Now on its dedicated blog here

Latest News on

Contact downthetubes

• Got a British Comics News Story? E-mail downthetubes!

• Publishers: please contact for information on where to post review copies and other materials:

Click here to subscribe to our RSS NewsFeed

Powered by  FeedBurner