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Choices, Choices
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"Al Ewing and John Higgins choose their own adventure in Judge Dredd!"
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... 6 Squaxx Dek Thargo singing, 5 Galactic Groats, 4 Strontium Dogs, 3 Dictators of Zrag, 2 Art Droids and a Mek-Quake chewing on me!

Christmas has come early for you, earthlets, as Prog 2012 hits newsstands in the UK. 100 pulsing pages of seizure-inducing Thrill-power crowned with a glorious Judge Dredd tale by writer Al Ewing and 2000 AD legend John Higgins. Inspired by the choose-your-own-adventure books of the 1980s, this tale leads the reader through a moral maze, a sticky situation that requires all of their skill to negotiate.

For our next instalment in the 12 Days of Thargmas, 2000adonline.com’s Ed Kaye talked to Ewing and Higgins about this labyrinthine tale...

2000 AD: What does Christmas hold in store for Judge Dredd and the Citizens of Mega-City One?

Al: Well, I'm doing two Christmas stories this year, and they're both set on Christmas Eve, so it's going to be quite a busy one for Dredd. I don't want to spoil either story too much, but in the Prog, we've got a Choose Your Own Christmas Adventure in which YOU play the role of an unfortunate citizen. In the Judge Dredd Megazine, which is later that same evening, Dredd gets involved with Judge Pal, who's being hunted down by Santa Claus. You'll have to read the issues in question to see how all that comes about.

2000 AD: Will this year’s Christmas story be a humorous one, or will it be more serious in tone?

Al: Usually I find myself doing one of each, but this year they're both quite funny and goofy. I've noticed that I tend to get a bit experimental at Christmas - last year, it was bringing back the rhyming story in the Meg, the year before that it was that whole 'what was the Dredd story for Christmas 1976' thing - this year, with the Choose Your Own Adventure, there's a twist in there that readers will discover as they read through it, which will hopefully prompt them to read through it again...

2000 AD: This story is in a 'choose your own adventure' style, and therefore the artwork is presented in a non-sequential manner. John, did this present any challenges in terms of storyboarding and page layout?

John: The nice thing about this story by Al was it was actually easier than the regular story breakdowns, as I felt the best way to approach it, because of the "choose your own" concept, [was] that each panel had to be exactly the same shape and position with no visual direction for the reader by the artist. So working within this self imposed restriction made my comic job a little easier.

2000 AD: What was your favourite thing to write or illustrate on this story?

John: I don't know why, but on this story, I felt it should be a more humorous approach, more cartoony than my usual depiction of Mega-City One. Dredd in particular, I always try and keep him within a form of "realistic" exaggeration, but this time went for the chin and lip big time, it was quite liberating and always fun working on a Ewing script.

Al: Here's a line: "Do you want to go futsie and kill Judge Dredd? (Go to panel 54.) Or keep trying to talk your way out? (Go to panel 56.)" I think that neatly encapsulates the whole strip.

Michael Molcher

Wednesday 14th December 2011