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Friday, April 09, 2021

Comic Cuts — 9 April 2021

It's turned cold again and I'm layered up once more. Thankfully, there's only Mel around to see me squatting here with my hat and scarf on, a thick blue jumper over a sweatshirt, over a shirt, squinting at my computer screen like some novelty gnome. Shivering in a converted garage with no insulation really isn't the best way to work and I'm looking forward more than most to some warmer weather.

That it's cold in April shouldn't be a surprise. My birthday is mid-April and we've had snow on that day before. Mind you, I seem to remember that last year we were in the middle of (a) the first lockdown; and (b) a heatwave, which made going out for walks a pleasure. I mentioned last week that we had resumed walking along the tow path in the morning... well, that was quickly cancelled as a bitter north wind whistled down the river and froze the blood in our veins. On Monday we even had snow.

I'm used to the cold, but the squinting is something that has been getting worse. I started to suffer from eye strain a few months ago and I've left it far longer than I should to arrange an eye test. I know it will mean new glasses and I didn't want to risk the trips into town that this will involve until I'd had my vaccination. I was tempted to wait until I'd had my second jab and more people had had their first/second jabs, but my recent two weeks of cleaning up artwork has persuaded me otherwise. This is partly the reason why I've put that project on hold and have been sorting out some books for sale, scanning and photographing covers, etc., as it gets me away from the computer and gives my old eyes a rest.

The appointment is still a couple of weeks away, but I did have a trip out of Wivenhoe on Tuesday — my first since November — to deliver a package of CDs and DVDs to a shop at the Hythe, just around the corner from where I used to work. The area is usually bustling with activity as there are plenty of businesses in the area, lots of houses and living quarters for the University of Essex, and two large superstores (Tesco, B&Q). On Tuesday it felt like a ghost town. I was one of only three people on the bus, and I had a quarter mile walk to the shop, during which I passed only three or four people, all of us dodging around each other at today's socially acceptable distances.

The pleasure of having something to do outside was slightly tempered by the cold, but that was a small price to pay for escaping more than half a mile from our house for the first time in five months. Roll on my eye appointment — that's even further away!

Hopefully you've spotted that I've posted more books on eBay. There are more to be uploaded on Sunday.

I've finally managed to hear one of Penguin's new audio dramas adapting some classic 2000 AD stories. I recently re-read Judge Dredd: America (reviewed here) and this was the obvious one to pick as a first outing. It is an absolute classic, with powerful political plotting that goes right to the heart of the justice system that Judge Dredd exemplifies and endorses. That it's not a story filled with the roar of lawmasters and lawgivers makes it perfect for the audio drama treatment. In the original comic outings, the stories that make up the Democracy Now saga had over a decade of context, but the strong central storyline means that even listeners without a deep knowledge of Judge Dredd and his universe will find themselves gripped as voting day approaches.

Judge Dredd is usually played with a growl like he has been gargling gravel, so it was surprising to find Joseph Fiennes giving Dredd a softly-spoken voice. While unexpected, it doesn't take long to get used to and very quickly the low key of his delivery takes on the menace of a Clint Eastwood movie. Becca Stewart and Matthew Jacobs-Morgan are fine as America Jara and Bennett Beeny, central players for much of—and arguably the best part of—the story, while Paterson Joseph papers over the occasional gap with narration, although newscasts, Greek choruses and supporting characters do a lot of the heavy lifting in describing what's going on.

I thought it worked superbly and soon found myself wrapped up in the events playing out in a well-conceived audio rendition of Mega-City One. America is a fine place to start if you're not a follower of Dredd or 2000 AD as it lays out some of the principals of the justice system and how Dredd and others see democracy as a threat. Dredd is not the hero here. I'm hoping that The Pit, the second Dredd story — and something a bit more epic — can maintain the quality.

Judge Dredd: America
Penguin Audio, 4 March 2021. Available via Amazon/Audible.

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