Judge Dredd

This summer has delivered some proper comic book adaptations. Starting off with a frankly fabulous Avengers Assemble that rewrote the book on superhero ensemble movies.

Then came the reboot of Spider man who although wasn’t a patch on Avengers, it was still a very well put together construct and certainly as good as any of Sam Raimi’s takes on Spidey.

Next up was Nolan’s concluding Dark Knight movie which set the bar for heavyweight, serious superhero film making. A beautifully staged superhero opera, no holds barred, even the 3 hours didn’t phase.

And then at the end of the summer came Dredd. Perhaps the movie with the least expectation, probably due to the appalling Stallone version and the perceived international lack of appetite for the niche British comic book icon. Certainly in the shadow of the big boys in 2012.

For Brit comic book readers of a certain age, 2000 AD and Judge Dredd was essential reading and supplemented the Marvel and DC universe ably. Dredd was the iconic star of the show and his savage brand of justice suited the times –  a kind of Dirty Harry in the future – judge, jury and executioner, all rolled into one. And I loved him. The character was relentlessly unmerciful and the stories were incredibly violent. The future world where Dredd lived was not a nice place to be and he simply reflected his world. I’m a connoisseur of the artists who drew him (don’t get me started) and the style influenced a lot of my early art.

The Stallone movie version of Judge Dredd was OK, but it arrived in a time of other average interpretations of comic book characters. So when the remake was announced it was kind of low-key. When I hear about a remake it’s always…OK, what’s the story, and why?

But do you know what? They’ve gone and secretly made a no compromise version of Dredd that I thought was impossible. The comics were genuinely so violent that any movie that tried to stay faithful would be delivering some pretty awful scenes. And yes, they’ve done that. The dark heart of Dredd and the city he judges is faithfully recreated in the 2012 movie, with Karl Urban (Bones in the recent Star Trek reboot) playing a stony faced Dredd – and full marks for this, not taking his helmet off once. Outstanding.

I suspect that only Dredd and 2000 AD aficionados will appreciate this movie, but boy, how they will. If they made any money from this, there’s plenty of Dredd content to use – The Cursed Earth or my favourite, the Judge Death story arc.

Anyway, here’s a few fanboy images to get your juices going – I thought it would be useful to compare the comic book Dredd with the movie version. They’ve done a cracking job.

Information is Beautiful

This image is from the rather fabulous Information is Beautiful website by David McCandless. It’s chock full of all sorts of graphic loveliness. If you love graphics and you love information, then you’ll have hours of endless fun on this site.

I liked this one particularly given my book club membership. Interesting to note, then, that the most recommended book to read in this consensus cloud is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird – which we’ve never actually read. Oh, it’s been nominated many, many times. We’ve just not pulled it off. Maybe this year we might…

Eat it don’t tweet it

One of the many hazards of being an avid foodie and obsessive social media type is the inevitable picture taking at the dinner table in restaurants. I’m keen to tweet and blog about my food (and those of you that follow me will no doubt know that) but I do prefer to keep the picture taking bit low key.

I understand that some foodie/social types like to keep the image quality at the top end but I do draw the line at DSLR kit in a dining room. Even the smaller point and shoot can be a pain. So the iPhone is the camera of choice for me, especially the later models like the 4S which has a very good camera on it, so much so that I now find no reason to carry my Canon Ixus around with me.

Even restaurants have got used to customers discreetly snapping away. The other evening I was trying to take a photograph of our stunning meal of Pyrenean milk-fed mountain lamb in Kendell’s Bistro, but the romantic lighting was not helping. The manager was alive to my photographic predicament and even offered to turn the ‘big’ light on for me. The lamb was seriously good, by the way.

Even with discreet iPhone cameras it can get out of hand if multiple diners are all snapping away and it’s interesting how more and more people are taking pics of their food, especially in nice restaurants. Somebody said to me recently ‘eat it, don’t tweet it’ which I took as a polite rebuke for my obsessional habit but do you know what? I’ll do both thank you very much.

Herb Lubalin – Typographic Hero

Herb Lubalin is famous in design and typographic circles for his iconic work in the seventies, particularly on the seminal journal U&LC (upper and lower case for you non type geeks). As student in the early eighties we would pore over his Lubalin’s work, completely unaware I think how important it was in terms of influencing design.

He’s somewhat overlooked these days although his hand can still be seen in contemporary design through the typefaces he designed. Although fonts go in and out of fashion like the cut of your jeans, there is a timeless quality that stands the test of time with his work.

I was delighted to see a fantastic looking book dedicated to Herb Lubalin online this week and featured in Creative Review. One for the Deano Christmas list I reckon!


All 786 known planets


I came across this amazing infographic that really does get you thinking about our pecking order in the universe…scary and exciting at the same time, I’d say.

The Chardonnay

Now I realise that even the title of the post will have some wine buffs up in arms.

Chardonnay is not a wine grape that has covered itself in glory in recent years. It has come to stand for all that is crass and commercial in modern wine with artificially oaked and chemically enhanced Australian and Californnia wines making Chardonnay a veritable swear word.

In fact now it’s so difficult to find a decent one the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction with little or nothing on the shelves – the fashion right now is for highly acidic Sauvignon Blanc whites which I like, but…

Heres where I come clean. J and I developed a taste for buttery, oaky Chardonnays on trips to California and over the years we have been relentlessly searching for similar wines in the UK – imported from California or South Africa or even France – to no avail. We’ve come close with Majestic Wine having a small but perfectly formed selection, but their buyers must find the whole notion of oaky Chardonnays abhorrent as they are few and far between. The likes of Harvey Nichols has  a few nice options but they are fearsomely expensive. It seems the American like many wine-producing nations like to keep the best for themselves.

Imaging my joy then when passing independent wine and liquor store Latitude in Leeds when I popped in on the off-chance they might have a few options. Well, I struck pay dirt with the manager proudly displaying his wares of ‘unfashionably oaky Chardonnays’ (my words not his, by the way). There was plenty to choose from and after signing up for their loyalty card ( I think I’ll be back there very soon), I scuttled off to see how the promising Napa Cellars 2010 Chardonnay would fare when paired with a delicious hand-picked crab salad.

Well it was off the scale – well-balanced oak, creamy and buttery and notes of caramel at the finish. Too much for some people I’m sure but we marvelled as the deep creamy yellow slid around the glass. Probably the nearest we’ve had to the up scale Napa Chardonnay we tasted last year in California. Nirvana in a glass.

I think I’m going to be on first name terms with the guys at Latitude very soon…