Although Dredd did moderately at the box office, blame the people who wanted to see heroes whiter than white, It’s a vastly under rated film but you can’t keep a good lawgiver down. 2000 AD alongside IDW, who gained the rights to characters like Dredd and Rogue Trooper, have both established that its never been a better time to head off into Mega City One.
The film has achieved a massive cult following. With demands for a sequel growing day by day and after 2000 AD teased “If you’re a fan of the Dredd movie, stay tuned...” So the wait is finally over, Underbelly is released next week. 2000 AD editor, Matt Smith hand picked a team who aren’t strangers to Joe Dredd themselves.
This includes Henry Flint who has drawn many Dredd strips but is well known for his work on Shakara and Zombo. Joining Flint is writer Arthur Wyatt, the founder of Future Quake and a contributor to Future Shocks.
Wyatt and Flint’s Underbelly is set a year after the events of the first Dredd film and has Dredd and Anderson investigating a child’s disappearance. The course of their investigation has them discovering a new drug called Psyche that has replaced Slow Mo, and Ma Ma is gone but not forgotten.
Looking back at the film, Underbelly writer Arthur Wyatt spoke to IndieComiX and explained how Underbelly expands on the film whilst also sharing his thoughts on IDW.
Underbelly is going to be released in the States soon, what are your hopes for it?
Like with the UK release I’m hoping it gives the people who loved the movie a bit more of that universe, I’m also very interested to see what happens with 2000 AD's first US format release – I'd like to see it sell enough for them to try that again.
You’ve written many stories for 2000 AD; did you have to rein yourself in for Underbelly as it expands the world of Judge Dredd?
The movie doesn’t really deviate much from what’s in the Judge Dredd comic, but it does pick an interesting subset of what makes Dredd into Dredd to work with: less Sci-Fi, less comedy, more emphasis on crime and action. We get the blocks themselves and telepaths and mentions of mutants, but we don’t get any elements we don’t need like mutants or aliens. It works really well on screen and I think it works really well on the page...
What kind of challenges did you face when you and Henry Flint decided to do a “Garlandverse” Dredd?
The “Garlandverse” was an interesting challenge as it stresses a set ofelements that aren’t always my go-to ones in the “mainstream” Dredd universe, where I tend to bring in more Science Fiction, and it was nice seeing what I could achieve with that.
For Henry, I think you’d have to ask him yourself. I know that when he did a prequel to the movie he had to work from a set of references that didn’t have things like how the judges look from the back, and this time round he was able to work from the movie itself, so that was good.
What do you think Henry captures best about the characters?
I think he’s captured the grit and energy of the movie superbly. In this one Dredd is, facially, a little more like the guy from the comics, though I think you can imagine Karl Urban in the role easily, and I really like his Judge Anderson.
The lovely Anderson and the stoic Dredd being a bit mesmerized by something or other!
How would you explain, the Dredd and Anderson dynamic?
Dredd is Dredd. Dedicated, grim, unforgiving. What matters to him is taking down crime, enforcing the Law, serving the city. In the end it’s for the benefit of the citizens, but The Law comes first over individuals. Even without her empathic skills Anderson would be almost the complete opposite of that – she’s a people person, the brutality of Judging doesn’t come naturally to her. The spine of the film is her making that work within the system to the point that Dredd grudgingly acknowledges it has value.
We see a little more of that dynamic in the comic.In some ways she’s moved passed him – he’s very much the stern old-guard while she’s the wave of the future, though how that will work out for her is unknown.
Dredd has finally found a home at IDW, alongside Rogue Trooper, do you think its given them a stability most publishers haven’t?
It’s hard to say, but I do like that there is new material now that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and I like some of the directions its taken - Douglas Wolk and Ulises Farinas’ Mega-City Two looks like nothing we’ve seen before, and Mars Attacks Judge Dredd was a flawless addition to both franchises.
My heart is still set on an all-Stokoe Rogue Trooper though.
The Trooper giving his all for IDW!
A newly beginning story from IDW!
The battle is on!
Looking back, how do you think Dredd affected the fanbase?
It’s been a rollercoaster. Before it was out there was a lot of prejudging and discontented murmuring, and then on its release fans saw it and it just worked – it was Dredd, right there on the big screen. Then the box office was disappointing to everyone and that was a bit of a low, then things got more hopeful when it came out on DVD and Netflix and found a new audience who loved it... for the comics I think it has been great, bringing a lot of attention to the character, but I have no idea if the seuqel everyone would love to see will actually happen.
Do you think the character is a hard sell for a general cinema audience?
Hard to say. I love the kind of hard, uncompromising action movie it is, but I suspect people just aren’t used to seeing that at the cinema so much anymore.
Would you like to do more tales set in the “Garlandverse”and how would it work?
Very much so! I almost think of Underbelly less as a sequel and more as the season opener for a HBO style Dredd TV series, more stories would be the ongoing episodes of that...
There’s been calls for a sequel, do you think it’s better the film has a cult following as opposed to a large following?
I think the bigger the audience the better, on the other hand I really appreciate that the movie didn’t try to change the nature of what it was adapting to court more people. I’d like to see them stick to their guns on that, trust that people know what to expect now.
Editor's Note: Dredd: Underbelly is a read you will not want to miss out on! So once the 29th hits, do be sure to get yourself a copy! And if you haven't yet, why not give Ross' review on this very title a look at!?