Ian Gibson: Letter From An ‘Anarchist’?

From Ian Gibson, the man who drew Dredd, a plea to pay attention to the messages lying within science fiction. Could the truth be in there?

Judge Dredd. He's getting closer...

Personal liberty is being eroded more and more it seems. Just like the Judge Dredd’s boot through the door as he comes searching for illegal substances like coffee and sugar, or perish forbid, ‘tobacco’…

We are losing out to the machinations of the Bush clan and their pervasive influence on western politics. And here the ‘nanny state’ now forbids the use of tobacco in public places (except the street? Which I would have thought was about as public as you can get ). And we have to take our shoes off to get on an aeroplane?That’s what science fiction is for. To point out where we’re headed and most often scream a frantic: “No!! Please don’t! This is how it’s going to end up if you do that!!!”

That’s why I loved working on Judge Dredd, especially when John Wagner was writing it. I still recall his story “Letter From A Democrat”, that sadly I didn’t get the chance to draw (maybe for the better though!). I had a lump in my throat as I read it.

When Sam Slade (RoboHunter) arrived on Verdus in the first RoboHunter adventure, he was considered a ‘Sim’ by the ruling robots. Man had been so mythologised that no human could live up to the ideal. Thus he must be a fake! A lesson about putting too much control in the hands of machines?

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Yet every day we are giving out our details to more machines.

The concept of ID cards containing all sorts of data, retinal recognition, voice recognition etc. etc. We are giving control to the machines and the lesson of RoboHunter has fallen on deaf ears!


Don’t we trust out fellow man? Do we really think machines are more reliable? Try Windoze as an operating system and you’ll soon change your mind! Do we really have so few people on the planet that we need to give work to machines?

I don’t think so! Quite the reverse, in fact!

So, why is it happening? Is there some sinister plot afoot to make RoboCop a reality?

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I guess I’m ‘pissed’ right now as I’ve spent a few days fighting with my own machines.

Otherwise I might suggest that machines make our life easier..? And if I hadn’t just wasted several days chasing faults in the system I might agree. And if I hadn’t just had to rush to the fire alarm to reset it because a neighbour burned his pancakes I might agree. If we didn’t have to take extreme precautions against identity theft and virus infection and Trojan invasion I might agree.

Machines don’t understand man. And most often man doesn’t understand machines. Yet we are letting them rule our lives. Watch out….there’s more than just the occasional hacker about!

Ian Gibson, long-time artist on Judge Dredd, is the co-creator of Halo Jones, and has also drawn for DC Comics. We think he’s ace. Find his website at www.ian-gibson.com

More by Ian Gibson on Den of Geek: Advice and observationsThe Economics of ComicsTurning comics into films – and vice versaManga, anime, and MiyazakiThank you for the comics