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COMIC LEGEND: The Ventriloquist was originally intended to be a Judge Dredd villain.
STATUS: False, but Close to True
Reader Jim S. was curious after reading the second Judge Dredd/Batman crossover comic book from 1992, written by Alan Grant and John Wagner…
why Ventriloquist was featured so seemingly oddly prominently. He did a little research and he came across the idea that it was a nod to the fact that Grant and Wagner had intended the character to appear as a villain in their Judge Dredd series in 2000 A.D. before instead using him in their debut series in Detective Comics…
The answer, Jim, is pretty close to that, but not PRECISELY that.
It is true that the Ventriloquist was intended for 2000 A.D., but not for Dredd, but rather as part of another Grant/Wagner collaboration, the Mean Team, one of a string of 2000 A.D. series that involved futuristic sports teams fighting in deadly matches…
Grant told 2000 A.D. View:
Both John and I love ventriloquist acts, and always wanted to see a bad dummy. We created one for use in a 2000AD story we were writing (it may have been some sort of Mean Arena thing, but I’m not sure). Then came Denny’s phonecall, and we immediately pulled Scarface from the script.
In an interview with Gotham in Rain, Grant elaborated further:
Gotham In Rain: Together with John Wagner you created an unforgettable Ventriloquist/Scarface duo. How was this character invented? Was it inspired by William Goldman’s novel Magic?
Grant: We created the character as a newsreaders with a dummy for the 2000AD comic strip “The Mean Arena.” But we decided the character was too good to use in that story, and filed him away…until we needed a new villain for Batman.
To the best of my knowledge, neither John nor I ever read Goldman’s novel. I stopped reading novels 30 years ago, after a leading British sci-fi writer accused me – in front of around 30 people – of stealing his ideas to use in Judge Dredd.
Grant keeps saying Mean Arena, but I am pretty near positive he means Mean Team.
Well, Batman fans sure are lucky that Grant and Wagner pulled the character from 2000 A.D. as he has been a great Batman villain ever since.
By the way, another reader named Michael actually had asked me about whether Goldman’s Magic was an influence on the creation of the Ventriloquist. There’s your answer, I guess, Michael!
Thanks to Jim for the suggestion and thanks to Alan Grant, 2000 A.D. View and Gotham in Rain for the information!