Dirty Frank is a fictional character created by Rob Williams for the 2000 AD comic strip Low Life. He is a character in the Judge Dredd universe, set in a city of the future where uniformed judges are empowered to arrest, sentence, and execute criminals at the scene of crime. In order to crack down on crime in the city's worst areas, undercover agents are the only option and must blend in perfectly. He speaks of himself in the third person, and often disregards grammatical errors. Due to his "caveman" like appearance, Dirty Frank is often described as "crude", and his sadistic tendencies and racist jokes only serve to bolster that opinion. “Henry Flint is a superb cartoonist, with such a wonderful idiosyncratic style that he is an immensely hard act to follow. Apart from looking at his character designs, I deliberately tried not to study his take on the Lowlife too deeply, as I felt that I would become intimidated by the prospect of following what he had established.”
Creator Rob Williams talks about the inspiration behind the character:
Dirty Frank was visually drawn to be a dead ringer of Alan Moore, which was down to Henry – a genius' choice, that. Frank’s tendency of speaking in the third person in a self-aggrandizing manner came from watching Premiership footballers, particularly Tony Adams, being interviewed. It always seemed slightly mad to me.
The character first appeared in 2000 AD #1389 (May 12, 2004), and then in issue #1392, drawn by Henry Flint. Dirty Frank was first featured in the story "Rock and a Hard Place", drawn by Simon Coleby. Coleby fleshed out the character and discussed his creative choices:
We share a love of ludicrously overwrought, heavy metal too, which certainly surfaced in one of the stories we created. If I recall correctly it was a chat about Rammstein which lead to the decision that Dirty Frank, at his most frenzied moment of metal mayhem, would probably start screaming in German…
Frank is outwardly insane, but I always feel that there is a sternly controlled side of him, the analytical core of the character. .. During my work on Lowlife, I particularly enjoyed working with Frank as it's impossible to push the character too far, and I found that I became comfortable drawing him very quickly. I think that his mannerisms and expressions developed and grew as I continued to draw him. I have no idea why it seemed right to add those "I am 2" children's birthday badges to his coat, for example, but that kind of thing just fell into place as his personality developed on the page.”
There's the question of Dirty Frank of course in some ways he's a more complex character to interpret (he has more than one facial expression for a start), but after some playing around I decided to stick pretty closely to Simon Coleby's version. There were two good reasons for this; first, Simon really made the character his own, and I wanted the readership to be drawn straight into his Low Life creation without spending the first couple of episodes adjusting to a new version of the character. Second, all my attempts to change the look of Frank ended up looking like degenerate versions of Ian Culbard.