Review By Luke Williams
If you have been in hiding for the past year or so, then you may not be aware that a while ago 2000AD had sent a call out to collectors of Bolland’s Judge Dredd art in order to publish this, a compilation of high quality scans of that art to as close to original art size as possible . Of the classic Dredd artists, the mighty Carlos, Mick (Mike) McMahon and Ron Smith, Bolland created a comparatively small body of work, and it attracts crazy high prices; take a look at Ebay or Comicartfans. Only the luckiest and wealthiest own examples of the work of the Mega City lawman’s most finely detailed delineator, and it took comic historian, and great artist in his own right, David Roach months to contact and cajole collectors and collate the art for this hefty tome.
If a book can be imposing, this volume measuring 48cm tall by 37cm wide, definitely is. This isn’t a complete collection of Bolland’s Judge Dredd strips, or of surviving Judge Dredd and 2000AD art, but as much of a complete collection as could be compiled. Divided up into “2000AD Years” (assorted Dredd strips, the odd non Dredd cover), the “Titan / Eagle Years “(Dredd covers for reprints albums published by Titan and the Eagle imprint US reprints of 2000AD strips) and the “Early Years” which includes assorted other strips. Pages are presented, with lettering, Sellotape marks, white out, editorial notes and all, lending the book an authenticity that it wouldn’t have had the pages been digitally cleaned up.
This isn’t a compilation of stories (but yes, it does include that) page, but a collection of art. With that in mind it’s not something you read as such, but it is a feast for the eyes. Each page demands to be savoured at length, but on a big table. This is not a book you can read sitting up in bed unless you have weightlifters arms or at least a hoist. It should come with a risk assessment.
The strip work as close to original size as possible is impressive, but what are particularly striking are the covers and pin ups. All the art is beautiful, but the Eagle covers are masterpieces, not just for the meticulous line work, but for the composition and wit. Bolland’s covers are often very funny.
Rebellion had previously used this Apex format with Zenith book 1, there is a Mike McMahon Dredd collection being compiled as we speak, and a call has gone out for more McMahon art for a Slaine collection in the same format. Enterprising individuals may want to invest in the production of extra large bookcases now.
Your reviewer has number 293 of 570 of the slipcase and autographed extra page edition by the man himself. Whether the extra money for the slipcase / signed / extra pin up edition is good value for money is questionable. Let’s just say Rebellion puts a premium on an autograph an extra page and a book box.
Nevertheless, the regular edition is unquestionably a must for afficionados of great comic art – whether you’re a 2000AD / Dredd fan or not.