Monday, June 25, 2007

Getting laughs where you can find them

2000 AD is famous for its humour, and its dark humour in particular. I like to think it should also be famous for delivering on that promise most of the time. Inevitably, of course, sometimes the laughs go awry, and one is left wincing at a joke gone wrong, or laughing out loud when really one should be terrified, or amazed...

These scenes from consecutive pages of Mind Wars.

"Must withdraw and contemplate!" It's work like this that make me propose that Alan Hebden was the old Dan Abnett.

Also from Star Lord, but Pat Mills this time:
Believe it or not, this is meant to be showing a rather fearsome demon manifesting from a tornado. And not, as it appears here, a rather dusty man using a tornado to wash out his armpits. I think we can blame the artist for that one...

Moving back to 2000 AD, here's MACH Zero, who's always good for a laugh. His stories managed to be poignant most of the time, but just the fact that he looks and talks exactly like the Incredible Hulk makes me smirk all too often.

And don't think that John Wagner and Judge Dredd are immune from this problem. Here's what you might call an action sequence, with perhaps the best sound effect noises of all time. Is that Neil Googe on art duties? I think so. Won't pull one over on Dredd, no sir.

It's been a while, so for collective poor efforts all around, here's a 2000 AD 'the Pain' award, sponsored by Elfric:

I leave you with some contorted histrionics from Hebden (again), and Belardinelli - along with Kev O'Neill the kings of intentional background humour (not here, though...)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Judge Dredd: bully?

To my mind, people don't talk about Judge Dredd enough. I mean, really talk about him. Everyone accepts and enjoys the fact that the Judge system is somewhat fascist, and that Dredd himself is often as outrageously nasty as he is genuinely heroic. Everyone knows that Mega City 1 is not really a nice place to imagine living - or at least, the Judge system is not one to encourage.

But discussion often goes no further than that. I suspect this is partly because the actual system is never entirely explained. Sure, we get the whole 'Judge, Jury and Executioner' (with a hefty measure of 'police officer' thrown in) ethos behind Dredd. Namely, if they see you committing a crime, they don't need to provide any other evidence before convicting you. Except, sometimes they do? I never really got the 'mob wars' stories, and the place that lawyers have in this set-up.

And then there's the whole welfare system. Only about 10-20% or so of the humans in the city actually have a paying job, the others just all have weird hobbies, apparently paid for by the state. Obviously there are richer and poorer cits, so somewhere the system must be a bit wrong. Maybe the Judges deliberately pay cits in some sectors more than others, just to keep people on their toes?

Back to the Judges, there are a whole host of mixed feelings about what they do. The PSU dept watches everyone all the time (or at least, attempts to). That's pretty horrible, and something right-thinking people are currently fighting against the UK government about. There are also the infamous Crime Blitzes, wherein Judges get to enter your domicile and ransack everything, in theory uncovering all manner of petty crimes. NOT NICE. More extreme stuff, such as pumping whole city blocks full of aggression-quelling gasses (see 'the Man who knew too much' in Prog 439). And of course the shocking and genuinely fascist 'no mutants' policy currently being contested in this week's Prog. Especially nasty given that MC1 has a functioning extra-terrestrial population and, of course, Apetown.

On the other hand, the Judges generally live up to their monastic ideal. Mad Cal aside, every Chief Judge has been uncorrupt. Occasionally wrong in their judgements, sure, but not living the high life in the manner of real-world dictators, fascist, communist or otherwise. Similarly, the average crime that Dredd thwarts is always valid. There are plenty of examples of Dredd handing out what we would consider to be harsh sentences (e.g. corporal punishment for littering or jaywalking or talking back), but I'm not sure we've seen an episode of Dredd wading into a crime scene and shooting the wrong perp - he's just too sharp. OK, so the violence is excessive, but rest assured, this perp deserved it...

...on the other hand, this is how the cits themselves view the likes of Dredd - a bully who needs no excuse to hand out violence: (taken from 'Slick Dickens' if you remember an example of MC1 escapist fiction)

We HAVE seen plenty of stories (including this week's) wherein Dredd questions some of the laws themselves, but in terms of applying theme, the man is superhumanly rigid and successful. And let's not forget, for all that the cits are afraid, they know that the Judges will bail them out of the many disasters that affect the city.

There's always been an underlying question for me, in that if people could agree on a set of laws to live by, and if the law enforcers we employ were free from corruption and handed out justice equally and successfully, would this be an ideal system? Dredd's world is a curious one, in which the first half is emphatically not in place, but the second half equally emphatically is (perennial 'Judge gone rogue' stories aside). Or maybe, allowing people to run around with daysticks is never going to foster an ideal situation, however monastic the wielders are...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jigsaw Comics 8

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Who needs subtlety?