Jason Kingsley OBE on Judge Dredd: How a publisher and games developer came to own the character that inspired him as a child
Back in 1977 I bought the very first issue of 2000AD, a comic book in which the only part Judge Dredd ap- pears is in a brief teaser for the second issue. Dredd’s world is this alternate future in which humanity lives in vast megacities. Essentially the entire east coast of the United States comprises Megacity One, which stands as a rather blunt parody of the state that western civilisation may end up in: 98 per cent unem- ployment, a brutal police state, democracy against the law, smoking prohibited outside of the smokatorium.
There’s a lot of subtle and not so subtle commentary on western society. Through the years it has drawn from Britain under Thatcher, Major and Blair, but it’s rooted in the knowledge that it’s a future-crime action- adventure story. It’s science-fiction for sure, but it’s kind of street level science fiction.
I read 2000AD while I was growing up, and then managed to be successful enough in business to be in the position to own it. And after quite a lot of hard work, we finally managed to acquire 2000AD in the
year 2000, which is nice and easy to remember, even for somebody who’s getting old like me. We’re very proud to be one of the last of the big British comic books that are still going and we publish new work every week.
At my company Rebellion we mostly make computer games but another part of our business is now publish- ing comic books, and Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Volume 1 marks the beginning of that time for us. Comic books and computer games are a way we can tell really great stories and entertain people; the two overlap and work well together.
I think 2000AD would have disappeared without us. Its previous owners were good people, but they didn’t treat the comics with much importance. It was just a business for them.
I had a passion to keep it going. It was really important for British heritage that it continued. We think of ourselves now as not just its owners but its guardians for the next generation.