Review by Luke Williams
Clearly Squaxx Dek Thargo and Mick McMahon fans have too much money; Rebellion release the second “Judge Dredd” Artist Apex edition following Bolland’s edition last year with a collection of finely scanned pages printed as near as practicable to original size. Apart from stylistic differences, the other main difference between McMahon and Bolland is that McMahon produced more for the Prog’. That’s not to say that his original work doesn’t fetch the same sort of prices that Bolland’s does, but more that there is far more of it about. A cursory check on certain auctions sites or comic art sites will give an indication as to how much a McMahon page will set you back. So, in a very real way this quite expensive collection is saving you money – at least that what you can tell your significant other.
For reasons that are detailed elsewhere ad infinitum, Mick McMahon drew the first published Dredd, and after creator Carlos Ezquerra is probably the most influential and prolific of the early Dredd artists. His work laid much of the groundwork for the artists that followed and regularly contributed to the strip in the first 4 years, dipping out to work on “Ro Busters”, “The VCs” and “ABC Warriors” returning to Dredd until the second episode of Block Mania in 1981. Following hsi departure from Dredd, he moved onto a celebrated and influential run on “Slaine” adopting a radically different style to what had come before. There was then an extended layoff from Tharg related work, before he returned to Dredd in Judge Dredd Megazine with a cubist style in “Howler” in 1994 – since then his contributions have been restricted to the odd strip or cover.
The pages that have been selected here are represented warts and all, faded word balloons, production, sticky tape marks and white out all present. There is a wide range of Dredd pages from the earliest episodes of the strip to covers from the Meg’ for “Howler”. Perhaps the most remarkable are the amazing double page spreads, now close to their original size emphasise McMahon’s eye for detail and composition and sheer energy. But perhaps the most intimidating page is the unvarnished reproduction of the Dredd / Satanus “Cursed Earth” cover in its full– this isn’t something you’d see in a newsagent ever again and certainly not gracing a “Regened” 2000AD.
Like the Bolland edition, this isn’t mean to be a collection of stories, though it does include the complete “Vampire Effect”, but a lovingly presented celebration of a British comic art great. Kudos to the production team for providing such an accurate a representation as possible of the original art and to David Roach in his tireless work in collating the pages that have been reproduced, it’s a credit to his enthusiasm and love for the medium.
For many, McMahon remains the definitive Dredd artists. There is a huge in range of stylewithin McMahon oeuvre between the first year of 2000AD and the “Judge Child”. This is a great (if expensive – your reviewer bought the slipcase edition) demonstration of McMahon’s development as an artist for the first 20 years of his career. McMahon is still active, his most recent work includes game design “The Last Worker” from Wired Productions and his work on “Joe & His Killer Robot Dad”, a comic for ages 12 and up.
It appears that there will be a follow up volume from Rebellion focussing on his Slaine work, but there is also his work on Ro Busters, ABC Warriors and personal favourite “The Last American”.
Due to their size these books are a bugger to shelve, but they are beautiful and fascinating. Over 2000ADs 45 year history there has been a wide range of artists that could be subjects. Hopefully they won’t stop with this McMahon edition.