With a stable of creators that hasincluded such superstars as Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, and such popularseries as Judge Dredd, the British comics magazine 2000AD is known to American readers, but mainly at a distance. Thatis about to change: Rebellion Publishing, 2000AD'spublisher, will begin publishing U.S. editions of new and classicseries in June. The books, all in graphic novel format, will be available tocomics shops through Diamond and to bookstores through Simon and Schuster.
The U.S. line will launch with twoclassic properties. The first volume of TheJudge Dredd Complete Case Files will be in black and white and will cost$19.99 for 300 pages. "That is our number one best-seller" in the UK, Smith said.The other premiere book is The CompleteD.R. and Quinch, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Alan Davis. "D.R.and Quinch are a couple of juvenile delinquents who also happen to be aliens,"said graphic novels editor Keith Richardson. "They have kind of a 50s retrochic look to them. It's one of Alan Moore's funniest works."
New volumes will follow at a rate ofone or two a month. Death Lives, dueout in July, is a collection of stories about Judge Dredd's nemesis, JudgeDeath. "At San Diego, people asked for JudgeDeath a lot," Richardsonsaid. Next up is ABC Warriors, by PatMills, with a rare backup story by Alan Moore. "Pat Mills doesn't let a lot ofpeople play with his toys," said Richardson. "The Alan Moore story was printedonce in an annual and never turned up in another collection."
Until now, the magazine and thegraphic novels spun off from it have been available only as imports, withspotty distribution in the direct market and none at all in bookstores. "Everyweek we get a contact from a retailer who hasn't been able to buy the graphicnovels they want," said 2000ADaccount manager Ben Smith.
Richardson said he knows the demand isthere from the fans' reactions at San Diego Comic Con. "The last three years wehave gone to San Diego, we have sold every bit of stock we brought with us,which has been a considerable amount," he said. "We know we have a strong fanbase, but distribution has been sporadic at times."
Rebellion has an enormous catalog todraw from: 2000AD has been runningweekly in the UK since 1977, and its spinoff, Judge Dredd Megazine, has been publishedmonthly since 1990. The U.S. line will consistexclusively of graphic novels, which will be very close to the Britishoriginals.
"We're not going to be adapting them[for U.S. readers]," Richardsonsaid. "The work speaks for itself. There is a lot of British cynicism and humorin the stories, and things like Monty Python have worked in the U.S. in the past. They are going to be very British, butI think Americans are going to appreciate that."
The books will be printed in the U.S. and distributed by Simon and Schuster. Based onpre-orders, the initial print runs will be around 10,000 copies, according toSmith. All the graphic novels will be paperback, with a 10 x 7.3" trim size."They won't look unusual on American bookshelves," Smith said. Some will beblack and white, some will be in color, and some will be a mix.
Rebellion, which is a game company,purchased 2000AD from FleetwayPublications in the year 2000. "They recognized the potential of the charactersto make computer games," said Richardson. "Todate, we have had a Judge Dredd game and a Rogue Trooper game which were verysuccessful." There is an iPhone app, and Smith says more e-distribution may bein the cards. "With a games development and technology company behind us, weare not scared of electronic distribution," he said.
Butthat's in the future. "What we are focusing on now is making the physical booksavailable throughout North America," saidSmith. "We are here for the long haul, responding to the market, and newreaders are going to be jumping on board