Dredd: The Illustrated Script and Visuals review

“Our challenge was to make an edgy/trippy sci-fi movie for around 30 million dollars”, says scriptwriter Alex Garland in the introduction to his illustrated screenplay for the 2012 blockbuster movie Dredd, based on the 2000 AD comic character. “Eventually we reached a point where we felt that we needed the addition of a new creative voice, one who could define some of the key Judge/Mega-City One visuals.”

Enter stage right, comic artist and devoted Judge Dredd fan, Jock, whose concept art had, according to Garland, “exactly the required vibe and atmosphere that the filmmakers were looking for”. The ensuing collaboration between Garland and Jock led to exactly the kind of movie that Dredd fans and lovers of action-packed sci-fi drama were seeking.

Part of Jock’s contribution to the film included creating a full-length comic book version of the script that was distributed to the entire cast and crew. The artist’s paintings and sketches quickly became the most effective way of conveying the look and tone of the project during all stages of the shoot, and now form the basis for a publication called Dredd: The Illustrated Script and Visuals, which recently made its debut in paperback following a limited edition run in hardback.

By his own admission, Jock grew up an avid reader of 2000 AD and having heard that there was a new Dredd movie in the works, uploaded to the web three pieces of art based on his own ‘imagined’ version of what the film might look like. At first horrified when some other websites jumped on the images as being ‘official’ art from the new movie, he was delighted when the filmmakers contacted him with an offer of work. Jock also worked on costumes and settings and it’s a combination of these that here accompanies Garland’s pre-production script.

246 pages in length, Dredd: The Illustrated Script and Visuals is filled with the most amazing material; relating the story of the film through behind-the-scenes photographs, snatches of storyboard and complimentary artwork of buildings, weapons, costumes and special effects. A selection of promotional material can be found on page 134, while throughout the book there are stunning images of the Mega-City One skyline with its monolithic towers set against purple skies (check out pages 160/161 and 232/233). It’s also evident from the profuse illustrations that Jock’s work cleverly recaptures the impact of original 2000 AD artists like Carlos Ezquerra and Mike McMahon.

Ever since the well-intentioned, but bitterly disappointing 1995 Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone, the UK’s Number One comic icon has been awaiting a rebirth and, as this book and the film that inspired it so brilliantly demonstrates, Garland and Jock have captured the spirit and feel of the character for a new generation of fans.

Dredd: The Illustrated Script and Visuals by Alex Garland and Jock, Rebellion 2000 AD, £25 (paperback)