Judge Dredd: Skulls with Trev Hairsine

My first comic work was with Trev Hairsine. I’d written this script for Cla$$war #1 and had no idea what to do with it, where to pitch it to. Guy Haley, then of SFX Magazine, told me about Com.X, a new comics publisher looking for fresh talent and willing to look at pitches for new projects. I gave them the script, they liked it and had Trev working for them. I wasn’t aware of Trev’s work, having ducked out of reading 2000AD during the 90s for a few years. I recall Eddie Deighton from Com.X sending me some of Trev’s Mercy Heights pages. Ed gave me Trev’s email addy and I dropped him a line introducing myself and saying how pleased I was to be working with him.

“If you give me lots of talking heads I’ll quit,” he replied. There were other words in the email too, I’m sure, but I can’t remember them. I do recall the blunt reply.

He invited me down to his place for the night for pizza. I was a wee bit nervous. Never met the guy or his girlfriend, Maria, before. He’s always had dog’s bollocks projectors and surround sound hi-fi, and we sat down for the night with a few bottles of wine and he suggested a few movies to watch. I’d never seen The Iron Giant before so he put that on. And I cried like I’d been bereaved (the end of The Iron Giant still gets me bawling over a decade later. It’s like it hits a cinematic emotional nerve point every single time and doesn’t seem to diminish).

So, I’m staying with this couple I’ve never met before this evening, and I’m weeping buckets. That’s how to break down initial barriers, I suppose. We watched Soderbergh’s Out Of Sight afterwards, when I’d calmed down. That was great too. He plainly had good taste in movies. The next morning I went for a long walk by some fields to stop myself throwing up. Too much red wine.

Trev and I then did Cla$$war together and somehow conspired to not work together again in about ten years. We finally did a Madame X oneshot for DC last year. That was fun. I’ve nagged him to draw a Judge Dredd of mine for a long time now and he always grumbled and declined. Finally I think I wore him down and he agreed to draw ‘Skulls’ – a six pager of mine that appears in this week’s 2000AD #1836. It’s his first interior work for 2000AD in 13 years, apparently.

And the weird thing is, when I got the first page through from him, it felt like he really should’ve been drawing Dredd a lot more throughout his career. You just feel the character is in his DNA. Trev loves Mick McMahon – he has three beautiful The Last American pages framed on his wall – and the vague influence of Mick is there in Trev’s Dredd, melded with his American comics work drawing big alpha male characters like Batman and Captain America. And it just feels right, despite the distance in years. I asked him if it felt weird drawing Dredd again after all this time and he said it felt completely natural.

I’m going to try and drag him back for more.

Here’s a page from ‘Skulls’. Incidentally, this features the SJS’ own Lawmasters. I asked Matt Smith, the editor, if the SJS had ever had their own bikes. He didn’t think so. So that was a cool little addition. Dredd’s bike always looks awesome. You stick a bloody great skull on the front of it and it’s even more intimidating.

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