INTERVIEW: the return of the exorcist with Ian Edginton and Dave Taylor
Creative team behind new Dredd thriller 'Live Evil' discuss the creation of Exorcist Judge Lamia
2 days ago
Starting this week in Prog 2069 of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic, Judge Dredd: Live Evil sees the return of the mysterious Exorcist Judge Lamia - she can see the dead, but what secrets is she hiding?
The 2000 AD blog's Richard Bruton sat down to talk to Lamia’s co-creators - Ian Edginton and Dave Taylor - about the exorcist and what they have in store for this unique character...
Richard Bruton: You've got a new Judge Dredd series starting in Prog 2069, Live Evil. All we know at this point is that Dredd's facing an extra-terrestrial threat. So, what's in store for everyone's favourite Lawman this time?
Ian Edginton: It’s a kind of locked room, extraterrestrial murder mystery and more. It opens with a spacecraft crash landing in the middle of Mega City 1. It’s returning a team of MC1 xeno- archaeologists but they’re all dead, murdered in their cryo-tanks except for the leaders of the expedition, a married couple who hacked each other to death. That’s just for starters!
You're bringing back Exorcist Judge Lamia for the Live Evil tale. This is her first appearance since you created her for the four-part High Spirits story back in Progs 1640-1643. It’s been a long time since that first appearance... what took you so long?
IE: Dave and I have wanted to bring Judge Lamia back for a while but it was a matter of getting our schedules to synch’ up. This is new adventure with new aliens but what this and the previous Judge Lamia story are doing is laying the groundwork for her future exploits.
As for Lamia, we know so little about her, yet the tantalising hints from that first story promise so much more. What can we expect from Lamia this time round, more mystery?
IE: She’s a wreck. She can interact with the dead but there are millions of dead MC1 citizens who are drawn to her, angry, confused and looking for help. She can’t deal with it and so has retreated behind the black gates of the Exorcist Judge Tabernacle where these lost souls can’t reach her.
Dredd needs her to work the case of the crashed ship but Lamia’s like a raw nerve, she doesn’t want expose herself to all that grief and pain from the dead citizens. Dredd being Dredd simply tells her if she can’t do the job then she doesn’t get to use the sanctuary of the Tabernacle so she’ll be back on the street anyway. He’s full of compassion that Joe.
Ironically, being thrown in at the deep end like this also leads to Lamia getting a handle on her abilities and where they come from. At the end of it, she also ends up with a new partner who will help her on her journey to find out who and what she is.
Dave Taylor: Mystery? Oh, for sure. And not just for the reader, but myself included! I purposefully didn't ask Ian, the writing droid, what she had in store and where she was going because I want my journey to be as close as can be to the reader's. Much of the magic can be lost when you know how a thing works, and it's true for comic book creation. There are things in this series that I didn't expect, details that I think the reader will dig, and things that open our character Lamia to a much broader universe.
It was a memorable introduction of a character, so visually striking; the cape and hood, the ashen face, the dazzling white hair. How did the idea for the character come about?
IE: I’d had the idea floating about for a while. I wondered about all the millions who had died in MC1, from the various wars, plagues, victims of crime, the judged, etc. If they hadn’t ‘passed over’ or found some kind of peace, they’d still be there, unseen for the most part. They’d also be witnesses to all the crimes that were going on, so for a Judge, being able to talk to the dead would come in handy but of course the downside is the dead are not always reliable. For them being trapped in MC1 is pretty much like Hell.
Judge Lamia was pursuing some perp’s and had run them to ground on an alien world when she was killed. She was resurrected by (as yet) unknown forces with the ability to interact with the dead. In Live Evil she learns that she’s in fact a Death Herder, it’s her job to shepherd lost souls to the other side. That also means she has to resolve why and how they were killed first.
Dave, what were your thoughts behind the striking design of Lamia?
DT: She needed to look recognizably attached to the Judges yet somehow distant. The cape was that key for me. At first I thought Ian, the writing droid, had blown a fuse. "A cape?!! This is madness!" But after drawing a few sketches I realized it was me who was mad for doubting it.
As she's very much involved with the after life, a place not commonly recognized as colourful, she needed to be as colourless as possible, thus her monotone uniform. She's dark inside, so that needed to be reflected on the outside.
Dave, you have a very striking visual style, one that stands out in 2000 AD, very European in look, lots of Moebius in there. But I know it hasn't always been that way. Can you give us a quick idea of those important influences in your artwork?
DT: My first major artistic influence was a guy by the name of Giles, a British newspaper cartoonist from the mid '40's til the late '80s. His work inspired my fascination with characterizing real life in a gritty, realistic yet twisted and humorous way. He drew with a freedom that I still long for. As for Mr Moebius (Jean Giraud)...well, let's just say, in his words, that "we are cosmic brothers". He drew a universe that really exists, yet seems too fantastical to the majority of humans. A few of us (an ever growing number seemingly) are linked as he was to this other dimension. It may have something to do with the acid all art students are forced to take in art school.
Dave, over the course of your career, you've worked for Marvel and DC, including the most recent work with Chip Kidd, 2012's Batman: Death By Design. But unusually for a British artist, your first work for 2000 AD didn't come until 2004 on Dredd, some 13 years after your professional debut. How did this somewhat unusual career path come about?
DT: 2000 AD was the first, and therefore most important, publication I wanted to do work for. It had never occurred to me to be a pro artist until I was a fan of the work of the Mighty Tharg and his minions. I was into a lot of stuff but 2000 AD held my attention week after week and made me wonder what life might be like as an art droid. My first ever submission was to Tharg, who promptly shot me down in flames saying "it's too American, and where are the backgrounds?" Naturally this hurt, but I took his words, twisted them, and thought to myself "if it's too American then maybe I should work for the Americans!" I submitted work to Marvel UK and that was that. It was only after I'd had a pretty successful career as an American comics artist that, after a number of years off ill, I decided to offer myself up to Tharg. I am now a happy art droid.
How do you both find working at 2000 AD compared with Marvel and DC? Is there more freedom to be different and more creative at 2000 AD?
DT: Working for 2000 AD is vastly different from working for the "big two". I can't go into why with much depth because I'm full of comic pro horror stories about working with this monster we call The American Comic Book Industry, and I don't want to wake up one morning with the head of a horse in my bed...suffice to say that Tharg, though mighty, distant, aloof, quietly threatening and GREEN is a joy to work for because he recognizes the huge importance of letting creative folk (droids) do what they do best...create.
IE: Absolutely. So long as it has a good strong story, the door’s always open whether it’s horror, science fiction, fantasy, you name it. Trying to place similar stories with US publishers can often be such an uphill struggle.