Villordsutch recently managed to secure a few minutes with Rob Williams (Judge Dredd, Unfollow) to discuss the upcoming release of Judge Dredd: Titan which is set to arrive on the shelves come June 16th…
Villordsutch: When did the initial spark ignite for Titan? Was it devised to fit neatly after the Day of Chaos, as Dredd is clearly showing signs of PTSD relating to the torture on Titan and possibly the Chaos plague, or was this tale – from you both – created for another time?
Rob Williams: I originally planned for Titan to be a Low Life story, where we followed Aimee Nixon as she was sent to the Titan prison, and it would be her story as she rose to take over the place and lead a revolt. But I started to think how much more mystery it would have if that all happened off camera, and then we’d follow Dredd being sent there to suppress the revolt. Titan has such weight in Dredd’s world. It’s a bogeyman term for Judges. I’m not sure he’s ever personally visited there. There was an immediate danger and gravitas to sending him there.
V: When it came to putting pen to paper what was the process? Did Rob phone Henry or Henry phone Rob, or was it a case of Matt Smith locked twelve of you in a room together and didn’t open the door until two of you were left standing?
RW: No, I pitched the series to Matt. Matt Ok’ed it with a few notes. Then I’d script and, again, after Matt’s edits, the scripts are sent to Henry. It’s a tribute to Henry’s storytelling clarity that everything always comes out so clear. But it’s a pretty straightforward process.
V: Dredd is repeatedly punished throughout this book and he’s also shown his own reflection a couple of times by Dirty Frank; to which Dredd has no time for. There was a very strong moment when we see Dirty Frank’s words written above and image of Dredd barrelling down, astride a horse, “Vengeance, and the end of all that is good”. Was it intended to strip Dredd of so much humanity – in the eyes of others – often he showed signs of his mind being on other things and then at the end he was filled with so much rage, even though half his body is covered in napalm burns he continued to seek the death of his torturer?
RW: Yeah, the Titan of the title is Dredd as much as it is about the prison moon. I wanted to tell a story that stripped away the Judge to show what Dredd is below the surface. He’s not a robot, despite his stoicism and form adherence to the law. The overriding theme for my Mega City One stories seems to be about tethers. Dirty Frank clings to the law to stop him falling into madness. For Dredd, there’s a key line from Gerhart here where he tells Hershey that Dredd’s angry, but as long as he stays on the side of the law, they have nothing to worry about. I wanted to push him to a moment where he finally throws down the law, and you see that in the finale. And it’s a horrible, terrifying thing.
V: Speaking of the horse scene, this drawn by Henry is one of my favourite pieces ever (and is on my Christmas list as a future commission I may add); what was the idea behind this wild horse appearing? Was this a metaphor for Dredd’s drive and power or was this something else altogether?
RW: I’m not saying what the horse is. The horse, though, is the same horse that Dredd first saw in the story I did with RM Guera – The Man Comes Around. But the horse stays between me and Dredd.
V: Continuing on from Titan where would you be taking Dredd now his internal armour is slightly chinked? Do you have further plans to psychologically imbalance our giver of the Law or has Dredd suffered enough in this quarter and you’ve placed this to bed?
RW: I suspect I’ve put him through enough. Titan and Enceladus really kicked the shit out of him. I’m aware you can’t do that every Dredd tale. The first Dredd I wrote afterwards was, very deliberately, a rather silly comedy, and I have another Dredd story coming up that, again, rather deliberately empowers Dredd. In one sense, I think Titan is kind of my big statement on Dredd. Although I do have a nagging feeling that his and the Judge’s fascism gets ignored by too many, and I’ll probably get around to writing something about that at some stage. Although, that subject matter’s very tough to do without it being horribly on-the-nose. That’s a challenge.
V: Away from Titan and I asked Oliver Davis (Co-Editor at Flickering Myth), another huge fan of 2000AD, if he’d like to pose a question to you both and he asked this. “Just what was it like being involved in Trifecta and how did you keep it a secret? It’s still one of the coolest surprises that’s ever unfolded before me.”
RW: Thanks. Yeah, Trifecta was a rather unique, special thing to be part of. It’s not a trick you can play twice. It came about because Si Spurrier, Al Ewing and I are mates and we talked about it in pubs. It was largely plotted in an afternoon session in a New York pub while we were all over there during the New York Comic Con. Then we followed it up with pub sessions in Bristol. We were all agreed that it would be a fun thing to do to keep it secret and not publicise it at all. 2000AD were very cool about that, and about letting us have the whole issue for the finale. Si and Al are clever boys, and we had wonderful artists like Henry, D’israeli, Si Coleby and Carl Critchlow to collaborate with. It’s one of those things I suspect we’ll all look back on very fondly in years to come.
V: Final question for both of you – what story are you both working on now, that you can tell us about, one that we should really keep our eyes open for?
RW: I’m currently writing the new Suicide Squad series for DC, with Jim Lee on art, so that’s pretty exciting. I’m also writing Unfollow for Vertigo, which I co-created with Mike Dowling of the 2000AD parish. And I’m co-writing Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor with Si Spurrier. As for Dredd, I have a three-part story that Trev Hairsine’s drawing. Trev’s such a classic Dredd artist and the pages look amazing. I’m looking forward to that seeing the light of day.
Judge Dredd: Titan can be bought from the 2000AD Online store here priced £17.99.
Villordsutch would like to thank Rob for taking the time out to answer the above questions and also Mike over at 2000AD for arranging the interview.