Now this is a hardback that an editorial team can be proud of. The first volume of Dredd strips originally published in the Daily Star newspaper from 1981 to 1986. Written by John Wagner and Alan Grant with most of the artwork by the legendary Ron Smith, although there is also work by Ian Gibson, Mike McMahon, Steve Dillon, Brett Ewins and John Higgins. Beautiful black and white strips, many of which have never been reprinted before, presented in a landscape format book with an excellent standard of reproduction throughout.
Several things stand out when reading this terrific collection. Firstly the lengths that graphic novels editor Keith Richardson went to in order to get good copies of all the published strips, which he details in his introduction. The story of how this book was produced is almost as interesting as the contents. It represents a triumph for Richardson and for the many fans (including our very own Orlok) who responded when the call went out to find the missing strips. I know Keith and Michael Molcher touched on this in their youtube review of recent releases but I would quite happily watch a further film all about the search, the fans' involvement, and the details of the reproduction and design of this lovely volume.
Then there is the sheer inventiveness of Wagner and Grant in being able to churn out these witty little strips on a daily basis. There are some great gags and a variety of fantastic stories that must have introduced that distinctive Mega-City madness to many an unsuspecting newspaper reader. Quite how they managed this as well as writing the weekly Prog is beyond me. The boundless energies of being young and paid per completed script must be the answer.
If the story of the creation of this book belongs to Keith Richardson and the fans then the book itself belongs to Ron Smith. Sitting there at his drawing board with his alarm clock set to remind him when it was time to put one page aside and move onto the next, all the while producing his trademark madcap depictions of Dredd's world. His artwork is just sublime and this book is a fitting tribute to one of 2000AD's "immortals".
Rebellion seem to be all about high quality hardbacks at the moment and this one will be a fantastic addition to any bookshelf. I imagine it turned up in many a 2000AD reader's Christmas stocking but if it wasn't in yours then it's time to cash in that postal order you got from Aunt Gladys and add this to your collection. It is available as a cheaper digital download from the 2000AD online store but you really want the hardback, it's gorgeous and well worth it. Congratulations to Mr Richardson and the rest of the Rebellion staff for producing this Star Stunner. Let's hope we hear more about its production at some point. A five star volume