Earlier this month at New York Comic-Con, producer Adi Shankar partnered with Screen Rant to give fans a special sneak peek into his new web series Judge Dredd: Superfiend. Now, the fan-friendly producer has released the full series online for Dredd fans to devour in one sitting.
The series, which is part of Shankar's "bootleg" universe of unauthorized fan films, focuses on the famed Dark Judges of 2000AD comics, most notably Judge Death. For those unfamiliar with the characters, the Dark Judges are undead former judges who believe the very act of living is a crime (and they take their jobs very seriously).
To bring these larger-than-life (or is it death?) characters to life, Shankar turned to animators Luis and Enol Junquera. Recently, Screen Rant was able to chat with the brothers about how they got involved in the project, their inspiration for the animation, and what other comic books they'd like to adapt.
How did you get involved with Adi Shankar's Dark Judges project?
LUIS: It was around February 2013. Months before, my last short film had been quite well received, but it did not help me to get a job or a team for collaborating in another film. I really was completely hopeless. Then Adi appeared with that comic book he loved, titled 'Boyhood of a Superfiend' and I thought it was an unbelievable opportunity for making something great, not another short film in my Vimeo account. 'Judge Dredd: SuperFiend' was the darkly funny, gruesome cartoon I’d ever wanted to watch since I was a kid, when I used to get disappointed with Scooby Doo monsters, being always ordinary people with masks and costumes. In 'Judge Dredd: SuperFiend,' the monsters are real, and the heroes are like monsters, too. And parents will enjoy it with or, especially, without their children.
The animation has a very unique style. What were some of your influences in putting it together?
LUIS: For 'Superfiend,' we tried to mix 'Akira style with 'The Simpsons' first seasons. Combining Katsuhiro Otomo's postapocalyptic badass style with the satirical irony of Matt Groening's dysfunctional family, we could get that punk, pulp, retro-science fiction atmosphere that I felt the first time I read Boyhood of a SuperFiend. Obviously, being a no-budget film, we had to take ideas from everywhere. I think it could be a very funny game for the animation experts to recognize the influences we had used.
ENOL: From the 3D and 2D composition point of view, 'Superfiend's artistic style is very influenced by Gorillaz’s videoclips and Tartakovsky’s 'Clone Wars.' The 2D and 3D animation mixture worked perfectly for us. We used it for some action sequences, and for even more. The mixing is very useful for a lot of narrative shots. For integrating both concepts, we thought of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' and how it perfectly integrates 2D animation with live-action.
This isn't the first time you've produced an unauthorized comic book animation. Your Punisher animation, Do Not Fall in New York City, was extremely popular a few years ago. Have you always been a comic book fan? What attracts you to comic books as a subject?
LUIS: Thank you very much for your kind words about 'DNFINYC.' That’s a very good question. I made that film because a friend of mine had told me Frank Castle's story years before, when I still did not know who The Punisher was. I loved the storyline but I specially loved how enthusiastically he explained it to me. Thinking about the reason why I start making films: it was for entertaining my friends, and they have been comic book lovers since we were children. So…
ENOL: I was only a child when Luis started buying comics. And I remember reading everything he bought. But for me, everything changed when I discovered 'Dragon Ball.' It was my turning point. Since that moment, when I was over 10, I started being a comic book fan. The thing that attracts me more about comic books is that they offer me different narrative structures. They can play with text and images… different fonts, different compositions, different colors… for creating a new and sometimes complex narrative, as 'Sandman' does for example. As filmmaker I learn a lot of reading comic books because they don’t only provide me stories, they provide me narrative interesting concepts.
2000AD comics have always been strongly satirical, parodying the more fascistic elements of law enforcement and justice in our society. How did this inform your approach to the animation?
LUIS: There is a beautiful game in this question because, as 'Dredd' is a parody of the fascism, Death is just a satire of 'Judge Dredd.' Death makes you think that everything could go worst, never knowing if the hero who is protecting you from this monster could be really just another psychopath with license to kill. I admit it is a quite pessimistic view of the society, and that’s why we had to work on the humor and take the satire to the extreme, for making the public understand they are not watching the true, just a caricature of a piece of the reality that we want to criticize.
ENOL: Everything is hyperbolized according to the satirical world. There is a concrete shot of the fatties in which they are really frightening… the traffic regulations are represented by robots and the night clubs are… well, you should watch the series! I think that everything has been designed and animated in a satirical way, not forgetting that this miniseries is focused on death (the character and the concept).
Do you think animation is a more fitting format for a subject like Dredd than live-action?
LUIS: I know I am going to get enemies for this, but…. Absolutely! Judge Death, Nausea and Phobia, the Angel Gang… they are funny and frightening at the same time. And you can't use them in a real film without losing any of both qualities… unless ... you were Jim Henson in the '80s.
ENOL: I agree that cartoon fits better with the comic books, however, a live-action movie is possible and Garland and Travis had already demonstrated that. They’d made a more realistic Mega-City One. If they made a sequel, they could include Judge Death or the Angel Gang, but adapting them to that realistic world. When Christopher Nolan made 'Batman Begins,' he included Ra’s al Ghul respecting his essence: the immortality concept, but in a realistic way… and it worked perfectly. In contrast, I think that a cartoon film using 'Dredd' realistic concepts could be boring and vice versa.
If you could partner with Adi Shankar on a different unauthorized comic book adaptation, what would you like to produce?
LUIS: Blacksad!!! No doubt. It would be a very noir, violent, crime tragedy, murky and cold film: a mixing of 'Se7en' with Cassius Marcellus Coolidge paintings. Liam Nesson would work perfectly as John Blacksad's voice.
ENOL: 'The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck' comic book. The movie should be a mix of 'Indiana Jones' and 'Citizen Kane.' With ducks. I would love to expand the story for giving a vision of the capitalism from the past century until now - Huey, Dewey and Louie as 'The Ducks of Wall Street'? I think Scrooge McDuck would have a lot to say about the actual crisis and it would be a good opportunity for giving his life a worthy end. I think Disney is not gonna agree!
LUIS: We both think the world needs more anthropomorphic animal films.
Let us know what you think of Judge Dredd: Superfiend in the comments.