So, today, the JUDGE DREDD: TITAN GN is released in comic shops. It’s a lovely thing. Look:
Most Dredd ‘epics’ traditionally have multiple artists and, occasionally, more than one writer, so it’s a cohesive, wonderful thing to have all of Titan drawn by Henry Flint. Henry is, for my money, the quintessential 2000AD artist of the modern era. Someone with a singular vision who can put incredible design, energy and faultless storytelling on the page. His Dredd stands with the greats like McMahon, Bolland and Ezquerra. Esoteric but always enhancing the narrative. He also coloured the majority of Titan too.
Titan, as a word, holds such weight in Dredd stories. It’s the offworld hell prison where bent Judges are sent. Just the threat was a bogeyman word. And I wanted to tell a story that got below the surface of Dredd, the older Dredd. All those emotions churning under the surface of the grim, stoic legend. Dredd’s the titan of the title here as much as the prison is. Chipping away at the statue and revealing the very angry man beneath the badge.
Titan contains Four stories, really. Five, sort of.
Titan – a communications breakdown on the Saturn moon prison – filled with 1000 ex-Judges – means that Dredd and a small crew of space marines have to break in, find out what’s happened and, if necessary, blow explosives destroying the facility and the inmates.
Fit – a one-off story that deals with the repercussions of ‘Titan’ on Dredd, both physical and mental.
Enceladus: New Life – one of the Titan shuttles approaches Mega City One with no one seemingly onboard. Dredd and the Judges shoot it down. We also see what became of the surviving Titan inmates on the Saturn moon of Enceladus.
Enceladus: Old Life – the true contents of the Titan shuttle are revealed, and Mega City One faces an assault it may not survive. A new ice age has come from the Enceladus moon.
Melt – a Christmas one-off that deals with the last remains of the Enceladus assault.
The whole thinking behind TITAN originally was to make it a Low Life story. We’d seen Aimee Nixon arrested by Dirty Frank at the end of Low Life: The Deal. Aimee sold out the Yakuza to not go to the Titan prison colony, but then Chaos Day hit, and I thought ‘what if the Judges, due to cramped space concerns, shipped Aimee to Titan. Broke their word through desperate necessity. How angry would she be? What would she do up there?
And that would’ve been a fun story to tell, but flipping it to make Aimee what she’d truly become – the bad guy – seemed to offer more opportunities. What if there was a breakout on Titan and Dredd had to go up there and stop it? Suddenly the story seemed much bigger.
Here’s my initial pitch for Titan, for those who enjoy reading such things. Like pretty much any pitch, what ends up on the page veers slightly. Matt Smith said we couldn’t leave the inmates in charge of Titan, so we came to a compromise, which had the survivors heading to Enceladus, and that prompted the second part of our story.
So much of being a professional writer is dealing with editorial notes and then using them to explore different story directions. The writer who goes all Klaus Kinski and screams “NO!!! THIS IS MY VISION! YOU ARE DWARVES! I AM A GIANT” <ranty froth at mouth> doesn’t tend to last long.
And here’s the first script of Titan.
There’s never the space in 2000AD for splash pages. They’re extremely rare, so opening with a splash (my script had a splash and an inset, but Henry wisely got what I was going for and ignored me) felt like a statement of intent – this was big. And a confident statement too. I think by this point I’d written a good few Dredds and finally felt secure enough to take on a longer story with stakes that changed the Dreddworld.
And, for those interested in process, I just flipped through my notebooks and here’s some of my working scribbles, trying to organise structure and theme. A 5-point plot breakdown for Titan, the episode structure for Enceladus. Things scribbled here as messages to me ‘NOT TO FORGET TO INCLUDE THIS DUMMY!’
“Black horse!” heh. Ordered chaos. Hopefully.
Actually, people seem to like looking at Dredd scripts. Here’s Melt, the Christmas story we did that had a loose Titan/Enceladus connection, but was mainly about doing a Dredd story with snowmen.
Incidentally, a lot of this plays out of LOW LIFE: THE DEAL which I still think is one of the best things I’ve written. Beautiful art by D’israeli too. Dirty Frank travelling to Hondo City to try and bring Aimee Nixon back from the Yakuza. It’s finally being collected in a third volume of Mega City Undercover, which you can pre-order here:
The big guy gets the last word: