Living legend David Wynne has commissioned me to write 500 words on this topic. Last night in the pub he teased me with the idea that I was going to be tasked to write 500 words on Frank Miller: Feminist Icon.

Having worked out my pitch for that one in the shower this morning (it’s actually really easy to read his work as an extended deconstruction of chauvinist tropes… so long as you just DON’T LOOK AT THE WOMEN IN HIS COMICS and only pay attention to the men – not an approach that’s conducive to feminist values, hence why this reading of Frank Miller is unlikely to catch on anytime soon) I now find myself face with a far more daunting task.

Five hundred words on “Hard Men with Big Truncheons: The Sexual Politics of Mega-City One”. I mean seriously: what can you say about this subject? What can’t you say?


Casting about for a place to start that wasn’t the bathroom, I asked 2000AD expert and lovely man Douglas Wolk for a quote.  This is what he came back with:

Judges are supposedly celibate. It seems to be the thing that is completely forbidden that everybody does anyway. As far as we know he’s been kissed once in his life. That was it. There’s an extraordinary line in this coming issue of 2000AD – “Well, supposedly she had a phobia of sex and when you look at her sculptures they’re completely sexless.” Well… how would you know?

Thoughts from another passing expert, Kelly Kanayama:

Somebody from the internet said that Judge Dredd, he’s not gay, he’s not straight, he’s a lawmosexual.

For a comic that’s so specifically aimed at boys and young men, there are a lot of lovingly rendered ass shots in Dredd. Just these firm buttocks of justice, clad in shiny leather.  There’s a sexy Ezquerra shot of Dredd where he’s got his shirt off so you can see his scars, how tough he his, but he’s doing the pose that women do on comics covers, twisting his neck to stare over his shoulder at you.

The helmet is an extension of Dredd: a rigid, thrusting collosus… a sturdy entity.

This is the thing, isn’t it?  The sturdiness of the man and his tools. Reading Judge Dredd strips, this is what we imagine to be necessary to fill the gaping void at the heart of things… the motivation behind this most infamous of Dredd panels:

To quote my fellow Mindless hero The Beast Must Die (and don’t worry Mr Wynne, you get his words for free!):

Dredd and Anderson are confronted by Judge Fear. Anderson is taken out with a mantrap to the leg – ouch! Fear pins Dredd down, with his familiar chilling refrain ‘Gaze into the face of fear’

POW! That’s the ticket! That’s how you settle a pan-dimensional fucktard’s hash! One more time?

That’s the moment that crystalises Dredd’s persona and fundamental appeal for me. Because essentially it’s the moment you realise that no matter how much of a bastard Dredd is, he’s our bastard. Mega City 1 is his city, and it’s denizen’s are under his protection. It’s also a great refutation of the supernatural threat presented by the Dark Judges. There’s nothing so scary it can’t be stopped with a giant justice-shaped fist to the face, and strangely there’s something comforting about this. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not describing some masochistic need for Big Brother-style state supervision. Rather, that Dredd’s world is often so confounding, so perverse, and so downright unsettling that his unyielding, rigid presence is a reassuring, and above all necessary, thing.

The thing is, what The Beast didn’t realise is that he WAS describing some sort of masochistic need for Big Brother-style state supervision.  To blatantly re-purpose my pre-prepared Frank Miller spiel (because to quote Brother Bobsy, “what is Judge Dredd if not the ultimate Frank Miller comic?”), to truly understand the sexual politics of Judge Dredd, you have to realise that its future is populated only by men. The women of Mega-City one are an illusion you have written onto the comic to help yourself deny the truth: whether you’re projecting sympathetic female characters onto the strip or blatant teenage titillation, whether you think you’re reading a story about a sex phobic sculptresses or “super sexy blonde [Judge Anderson] – part ‘Atomic’-era Debbie Harry, part Jean Grey” (thanks again Beastie!), you’re fooling yourself.

There are no women in Mega-City One. Judge Dredd exists in a different sort of world, a purely lawmosexual space, a closed bathroom set where there are men and only men self-disciplining forever, visualising the gaping hole at the heart of their existence (Judge Fear), visualising the tools they need to fill the breach (Judge Dredd – his truncheon – his daystick).

The Daystick is a long one- or two-handed cudgel (blunt weapon- like a baseball bat). It is used by Judges for riot control

 

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and less-than-lethal attacks on aggressive perps. It has a Titanium core, as demonstrated when one perp attempted to slice through it with a chainsaw to no avail.

The riot is in your head.  There is only one way to contain it. It’s the thing that’s completely forbidden but which everyone does.

Despite my best intentions, I have ended up exactly where I’d tried to avoid: the bathroom.

That’s how it always starts.  That’s how it’s almost certainly got to end.  With me, the comics internet’s one confirmed lawmosexual, spending some quality time with a bundle of 2000AD back issues in the bathroom.

I am wanking as I type this.

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