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Comics and Criminology: The books that made 'I am the Law'


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On Thursday March 2nd we're chuffed to be hosting an exploration of the space where comics meet allegory meets critique of the police state. Michael Molcher's book 'I Am the Law: How Judge Dredd Predicted our Future' is a radical examination of how this iconic antihero, co-created by one of Scotland’s greatest comics writers, provided a chilling warning about the endgame of today’s ‘law and order’ politics.

Here, Michael shares a few words on the books that went into creating 'I am The Law'. You'll find tickets for the event HERE!

Comic books and criminology might, on the face of it, appear to have little in common but within I Am The Law the two are closely intertwined, mixing radical scholarship on policing with cultural and political history. This tottering tower of tomes (though only a fraction of those currently causing my bookshelves to bow) covers everything from policing to comics, from racism to colonialism, expressing – I hope – the breadth of subjects that the book ties together in the figure of a future lawman who is judge, jury and executioner; from the classic ‘Policing the Crisis’ by Stuart Hall and his colleagues at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies to Martin Barker’s brilliant dissection of the reactionary forces behind the 1950s scare over imported American comics, from Adam Elliott-Cooper’s stories of hard-fought resistance to hard-line policing to Tom Shapira’s perfect little primer for Judge Dredd.

The story of the last fifty years has been one of how law and order ‘tough on crime’ politics has been used to marshal social and political forces into supporting increasingly authoritarian policing and the ‘securitisation’ of the world. In Scottish writer John Wagner and Spanish artist Carlos Ezquerra’s Judge Dredd, who debuted just as the ‘crisis’ of the 1970s reached its peak, we can see the power structures, the racism, the rhetoric, the justifications, and the practices of policing in the 21st Century – with a sobering reminder that, if the comic’s timeline is to be believed, we are barely a decade from his arrival on our streets…

The booklist is available below, save for these few that are out of print/have limited UK availability:

The Lawman, Tom Shapira, Dirty Harry’s America, Joe Street, Graphic Justice, edited by Thomas Giddens, Policing the Crisis, Stuart Hall et al,

Image credit Michael Molcher

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