Judge Dredd, the comic anti-hero who made his debut in the pages of 2000 AD back in 1977, has joined the surprisingly small number of British comic characters to make the jump to animation. Judge Dredd: Superfiend is a six-part mini-series for YouTube, written and directed by Spanish indie animators Enol and Luis Pelayo Juniquera.

One of the most interesting things about this shoestring affair is how it straddles the line between fan work and official product. The series is technically a fan production as it is not endorsed by Rebellion, Judge Dredd’s copyright holders. However, it was co-created by Adi Shankar, executive producer of the 2012 Dredd film; the miniseries was in part a response to a fan petition calling for a sequel to this movie.

Shankar is no stranger to fan films, having previously worked on unofficial live-action shorts starring Marvel Comics characters. Here is what Luis Pelayo Juniquera told IGN on the phenomenon of fan-animation:

If I watched a movie I did not like, I would be able to remake it in my computer. I could upload it to YouTube and know what the whole world thinks about it in just few minutes. Some guy will watch Judge Dredd: Superfiend and think, “I can make it better.” If he does, we will watch it. Some other guy might love it and continue it with that seventh chapter featuring [the characters] Fire, Fear and Mortis, and we will watch it—and we will learn from him. We’ll evolve together. In the last century, spectators have been tied, hand and foot, in the chair of a cinema hall, but now we have our own voice.

Neil Emmett

NEIL EMMETT is a cartoonist and aspiring screenwriter based in the United Kingdom. A graduate of the Norwich University of the Arts animation course and former member of the BAFTA Youth Board, he began keeping a regular blog about British animation entitled The Lost Continent during his studies.