INTERVIEW The Dead World by Alex De Campi, Arthur Wyatt & Henry Flint

Creative team talk about bringing Judge Death into the DREDD movie universe comics series

1 year ago

Judge Dredd Megazine #372 is out now and begins the deadly farewell to the world of the 2012 DREDD movie in The Dead World.

Arthur Wyatt, Alex De Campi, and Henry Flint bring us this final tale (for now) with the first movieverse appearance of those deadly Dark Judges, spreading their own brand of terror across the streets of this version of MC-1.

It all starts with your normal day on the streets of MC-1. But the streets seem darker, the citizens more violent. Could it be that there’s something in the air? When Dredd gets called in for a series of mysterious deaths at a JD tech facility, he discovers something dark and deadly is about to be unleashed on the streets of the Big Meg...

Richard Bruton sat down with Arthur, Alex, and Henry to talk DREDD: The Dead World, and The Dark Judgessssssss.

It all kicks off in January, with DREDD: The Dead World. This is the latest (and possibly the last) visit to the world of the movie Dredd-verse. What have you in store for us this time?

Alex De Campi: Oh, it's a gentle little tale of the apocalypse, spiced pleasantly with a little of that old ultra-violence.

Arthur Wyatt: Since it’s the last one we’ll be pulling out all the stops for it.

Henry Flint: Hopefully a bit of humor but mostly keeping it dark.

A certain group of very famous villainssssss make their first appearance in The Dead World. How closely have you stayed to the portrayal of this group of nasties as we know them in the regular Dredd comic? Or have you introduced your own particular take on them?

ADC: Thematically, they're still the same nasties we know and love, but we've taken some visual liberties based on aspects of canon that haven't been explored much. It's the movieverse. We can have fun with things. We've gone a bit more John Carpenter / David Cronenburgh on things. 

AW: How to do the dark judges in the style of the movie is a really thorny question. Obviously we couldn’t just go with the obvious of rerunning the stories from the progs with the uniforms changed, it needed to be something that took the concept brought it forwards, and did it in a way in keeping with the cinematic universe which is a little less friendly to spooky ghosts and gothic castles made of bone.

HF: The script cleverly discards the Dark Judges iconic uniforms, we're regressing the design which should help the horror.

This current storyline, The Dead World, is being billed as the final part of the stories we’ve enjoyed over the past few years featuring the movie-verse Dredd and MC-1. Are we definitely looking at an end to the stories, or is it merely goodbye for now?

AW: I wouldn’t say never but I certainly feel like I’m done with them for now - it’s been the bulk of my comics output for the last few years so it’s oddly liberating to be freed up to do other things… of course, it turns out the “other things” are a load more Judge Dredd in other forms.

ADC: That's up to Tharg! I will say that The Dead World has a pretty conclusive ending.

And if it is the final story from the Dredd movie-verse, was there a big temptation to make this a real final series, with death and destruction on all sides?

AW: Alex plotted this one, so oh yes there will be death and destruction.

ADC: *whistles nonchalantly*

How has the creative collaboration between two writers and artist gone?

ADC: It's been wonderfully easy. Everybody has each other's back, we're all doing some great work, and Henry didn't even swear at me for some of the complicated page layouts I suggested. I'm super excited to see it come together in January!

AW: When I first proposed collaborating with Alex I had a couple of rudimentary story ideas, a heist with the Clan Techie and Dark Judges story were the strongest. We thrashed the Dark Judge one out in person at Emerald City Comicon and then over email, though it was a tough one to pin down. As it happens Tharg was very receptive to that [heist story] pitch and the prospect of a Dark Judges follow up, so that bought us time to adjust the Dark Judge pitch. We ended up having some false starts with that too, and went back to the drawing board at least once, but when Alex sent me what became the final form of the story I knew it was absolutely right. For the actual writing itself we basically took turns - one of us would write a first draft of an episode then the other would rework it, then for the next episode we'd swap around. It actually seemed to work pretty well and we gave each other a lot to bounce off of.

Henry, how’s the experience of working on this version of Dredd differed from working on the original? Has it been more difficult to differentiate between the two, or is it somewhat liberating? Have you had to approach the artistic duties differently to your usual style?

HF: Movie Dredd seems to me to be more vulnerable. With horror it helps if the lead character appears mortal, sometimes depicting him as defenseless helps. He's more of a hero that way. Love the buildings and the more contemporary aspects too.

Finally, since we’re talking Dredd movie-verse here with The Dead World, I have to ask... what did you think of both movie versions of Dredd?

HF: There is no comparison. One isn't even a Dredd movie! 

ADC: I loved the Karl Urban DREDD movie. But alas, even with my deep, abiding love for trashy Stallone movies, his Dredd was... no.

AW: I’m still fond of the first one! It’s terrible, but the design is really nice, and I’ve a soft spot for goofy mid-90s SF actioners even if arguably Judge Dredd isn’t even the one with Stallone in that captures the spirit of the comic best (that would be Demolition Man). I even tried to sneak in an “I knew you’d say that” somewhere, which i think might have disappeared as part of the editorial process.