Every week, 2000 AD brings you the galaxy’s greatest artwork and 2000 AD Covers Uncovered takes you behind-the-scenes with the headline artists responsible for our top cover art – join bloggers Richard Bruton and Pete Wells as they uncover the greatest covers from 2000 AD!

In one of those ‘typical, no covers from him for ages and then two come along in a couple of months’ moments, it’s the return of the brilliant Andy Clarke to the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2287.

We last saw Andy with his cover to the Judge Dredd Megazine issue 444 back in May – and you can read his Covers Uncovered on that one here. For Prog 2287, it’s another stunning Dredd with the Lawman of the Future attempting to take out the trash – and you can see just how that turns out inside with the one-off Judge Dredd: Grinder, written by Ken Niemand and drawn by Nick Dyer.

So now we’ll hand you over to Andy Clarke, a veteran droid complaining of having a few circuits on the fritz right now – although, these days, don’t we all? Mind you, we don’t all make the mistake Andy’s making of asking The Mighty One for an upgrade… foolish, foolish droid!

ANDY CLARKE: This one seemed like it was going to be really fun – a funky-looking automated rubbish bin/garbage grinder turned possessed rampaging robot, trying to get it’s bendy mitts on Dredd. Understandable. Who wouldn’t go a bit doolally if their days were spent eating ****. 

I sent off a couple more sketches to Ma*zzzxxtt*Tharg after not really fulfilling the spirit of the brief with the first one I sent through. My malfunction. I misread the brief. Words were there that later weren’t.

Obviously, some maintenance is required – can we book me in? I thought I’d be good for another fifteen or so, not crapping out in my mid-forties. *zzzxxtt*

Andy Clarke’s fist four sketches sent over for The Mighty One’s approval
(Every single morning the poor Justice Department Dress-O-Matic droid has to go through this fuss)
The final choice, pencilled and ready to go!
(And yes, we’re avoiding the tentacles gag… but feel free to add your own!)

ANDY CLARKE: Where was I? Sketches?! Oh, right – yeah, so *zzzxxtt* Tharg chose a sketch and I went about firming it up – defining Dredd’s uniform, making sure the grinder looked solid enough and I felt confident enough with all its bits and pieces.

It’s a great design and I had a good time with all the cables and made-up techy junk. But I wish I’d fixed the positioning a tad – some of the tentacles holding Dredd seem to pull him into the grinder (not literally) a little too much, it’s a bit tangent-y and I should’ve tried to separate Dredd and the grinder a bit more.

I inked it up, keeping it simple – only really concentrating on the outlines. I didn’t want to cover any detailing at this point as I was going to get to all that stuff with the greytones in the next step. 

And then the inks get added
(After all, what a grown Judge gets up to in his own home is completely up to him)
Greytones next
(But seriously, your minds are just in the gutter)
Flat colours added next

ANDY CLARKE: This time, once I’d filled in the flats, I decided to change some of the greys – colourising them to try to bring out a bit more variety in Dredd’s uniform and to knock back some of the darker grinder areas. I think I could have played more with the contrast too – it’s a little washed out – everything’s almost got the same level of light and dark. But, still learning and always will be, so hopefully I can improve on all this stuff as I go. 

All that was left was to add some grime and dirt to the grinder and try to accentuate the glow around the eyes. Not overly happy with the effects stuff, but I think I’ve found a better way to do it since, that might work a little better in future. 

And the final image – full fx and backgrounds all added

ANDY CLARKE: The background is just a mix of different brushes and colours that seemed to fit with the rest of the picture. I did a few different ones to give me some choices – and one or two flat colour options and a plain white background too. This one seemed to win out.

And that’s it. *zzzxxtt* Now, about that maintenance booking – does the warranty cover any upgrades?

And there you have it – our thanks to Andy for sending along the background to another great cover image for 2000 AD – you can find Prog 2287 in newsagents, comic shops, and everywhere you get your weekly Thrill Power, including the 2000 AD web shop from 22 June.

With all that done, the Clarke droid trundled off to Tharg’s repair shop to enquire about the maintenance and possible upgrade. Thankfully, we ducked out the side door before the explosion of Thargian proportions – think that scene from Oliver with the gruel but with more volume and flying droid bits everywhere. Hopefully we’ll see Andy’s work back on the cover in the future, once he’s put himself back together and served his punishment time that is!