Previously unpublished episodes of the comic book series Judge Dredd from the late 1970s, part of the 2000 AD anthology, are going to be reprinted for the first time by Rebellion Publishing following a change in the law.
Originally published in 1978, two episodes from "the first great Judge Dredd epic" The Cursed Earth – entitled ‘Burger Wars’ and ‘Soul Food’ – raised concerns over legal action for their satire of American consumer culture, specifically for featuring parodies of Burger King, Ronald McDonald, the Jolly Green Giant and the Michelin Man, among other prominent corporate characters.
While there wasn't any legal action against its then-publishers IPC, the publisher had been contacted by brand owners for the Jolly Green Giant, forcing it to issue a half-page apology strip in a pre-emptive action and which subsequently led to it omitting the satirical stories from all subsequent collections of the strip.
Now, following recent changes in UK law governing parody and in consultation with its legal team, Rebellion Publishing is reprinting the story in its entirety next July in Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth Uncensored.
The parody laws changes, which took effect on 1st October 2014, are part of the new European Copyright Directive. It allows the parodying of copyrighted commercial characters, such as the Jolly Green Giant and Ronald McDonald where before a company could argue that parodying a trademarked character was damaging to its business.
Ben Smith, head of books and comic books at Rebellion Publishing, said: “The most common question we have been asked at conventions over the years is ‘Will you be reprinting Burger Wars?’ It’s a delight, and frankly a relief, to be able to finally say ‘Yes!’ Our mission to make the entire run of Judge Dredd available has seen each volume become a bestseller throughout the last decade. In this special edition of The Cursed Earth you’ll see pages from the legendary artists Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon, unseen for 37 years, in unparalleled quality.”
Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth Uncensored will be published in both the UK and US, priced at £25 and $35 respectively. It includes “sparkling action-packed parody” from Pat Mills (Charley’s War) and John Wagner (Judge Dredd), complete with colour spreads from Brian Bolland (The Killing Joke) and Mick McMahon (The Last American). It is being produced in a deluxe edition featuring all the previously banned content, with the colour content also restored for the first time.
Pitched as “the most-requested reprint in 2000 AD history”, The Cursed Earth sees Judge Dredd travel into middle America’s irradiated wastelands to deliver a vaccine, encountering dinosaurs, aliens and mutants along the way, and through “the twisted landscape of American culture”.