Bit of an oddity this one. IDW comics as part of their project to introduce Dredd to American audiences have produced a treasury edition of some classic stories from the good old days of 2000AD. So here are eight stories all written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, in large format black and white, which means that they have actually removed the colour from some of the two page colour centre spreads that Dredd used to get.
And it is big, about A3 sized so bigger than even the current prog. The A3 proportions don't match the old progs so there are quite large white margins at the top and bottom of the page. Even so the pages are bigger than we are used to compared with the progs themselves or the case file reprints, and the black and white reproduction is pin sharp with none of the issues that marred the recent Halo Jones edition or Skizz. The result is the chance to admire some beautiful line work by the acknowledged masters of early Dredd art. Kevin O'Neill, Mike McMahon, Cliff Robinson, Ron Smith, Ian Gibson and Brian Bolland are all here with only King Carlos not making the final cut, and that must have been a tough decision to leave him out.
The only puzzle about this book is what it is setting out to achieve. IDW's own take on Dredd, or Heavily armoured special cop as we might have to call him from now on, is very different from the version shown in these classic strips. And I'm not sure if American readers go for these oversize reprints in a big way, plus they have a fairly well known resistance to black and white comics. It all comes back to that great mystery (to me anyway) which is how many copies do comics actually sell these days. I can look up on the Diamond website what the top 100 selling books are but neither Judge Dredd or Rogue Trooper are troubling the scorer there. Perhaps something like this will increase recognition of Dredd in American comic stores, or maybe the Free Comic Book Day prog would do a better job of that. And perhaps this is just putting out some more classic stories to be snapped up by us hardcore fans who probably have all these stories already.
Having said all that is costs less than £7 here in the UK so if you want to see some eye-wateringly beautiful Dredd art hunt down a copy. Pick of the Prog goes to the Judge Minty story which has grown in significance and impact with time and now has a terrific fan film to go with it, and I'm not just saying that because I got to wear Minty's jacket at the Lawgiver convention.