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!

This week, Dave Taylor talks Megatropolis for the cover of Judge Dredd Megazine issue 431, which is out now!

That’s a predictably gorgeous cover marking the finale of the eight-episode first series of Megatropolis – predictable because that’s just what Dave’s been doing for the eight episodes of the series since it first blasted into the Megazine with the very special 30th-anniversary issue 424.

With Megatropolis, Kenneth Niemand and Dave Taylor have given us an alt-timeline Mega-City One, one of gorgeous 1930s deco-noir retro-futurist stylings, widespread police corruption, and plenty of familiar names in unfamiliar guises, including Detective Joe Rico and Officer Amy Jara, possibly the last two good cops in the whole city.  

Megatropolis ends here in Megazine issue 431, so it’s all right and proper that Dave Taylor is there on the cover. Now, time for him to tell us about the making of a Megatropolis cover… strap yourselves in, this one’s a doozy complete in 12 steps…

DAVE TAYLOR: As  everyone knows, Tharg the Mighty contacts us via our dreams.

All I remember was waking up with the words “You will produce a cover for Megatropolis.” Next thing I remember is drawing this wee sketch, the image already forming in my slowly waking mind.

Tharg speaks – Dave gets drawing!

I then threw some colour at it. When Tharg the Magnificent speaks, each word contains far more information than a human ear can perceive. Within His words “You will produce a cover for Megatropolis” lay the entire digitised structure of the intended image, all I had to do was to decipher this ancient cosmic language.

Once this colour sketch was finished, within a few seconds I received the words “Yes, like that.”

I knew what these words, sent and received on the “Ether”, meant. He meant “Obviously not as crappy as that, do it with a shit load of background detail and eye catching lighting, you muppet!”

So I started drawing, and within what seemed like moments but was in fact more like days, I produced this “blue line” pencil drawing. I used my blue pencil attachment because I’m programmed like that, as an older model art droid.

There are laws in this universe that can not be broken. There are laws in this universe, if Tharg the Majestic says it’s OK, that can be. No, this isn’t “THE FACE OF DREDD”. It’s the face of Joe Rico, someone very different with hardly any connection to the iconic and much loved British comic book legend Judge Dredd. Don’t go thinking “Well, I now know what Judge Dredd looks like under his difficult to draw helmet.” You might be wrong to think that. Or not.

With the now famous world shortage of ink, I was forced to “ink” this drawing with “traditional pencil”. It’s more dangerous using this method but that’s just the way I roll. In the old days work like this had to be inked because people had much worse eyesight.

Returning again to the fleeting visions received from Tharg the Absolutely Stupendous, I began the arduous task of making a pretty rough “traditional pencil” drawing into a finished, fully lit with colour cover, fit for the likes of you. I established the overall background light using 20thC technology.

Using the same ancient tech (and from here on in) I established the solid blocks of the city and the air cars. I also found the basic colour of the rather disturbingly large patch of blood. It feels rude to ignore the characters in the image while working on the background but that’s what is needed at this stage. As I hope you can see, I’m starting to get a feel of perspective and depth.

Leonardo Da Vinci once taught me that you don’t “colour” comics, you “light” them. I’d hear him say “Colour is a product of light, not the other way around, you Muppet!” The man and the lady are facing the dark unknown and so are “backlit”.

I had to go into each building, each apartment, with an electrician to make sure the city looked lived in. And the cars too, all those tiny little cars, they had to have lights or it’d be too dangerous to drive them in that traffic. The city is beginning to “come alive”.

You remember me mentioning darkness? Stage 10 of this 12 stage process is not working with light, as I’ve been banging on about, but it’s religiously older sibling DARKNESS. This raises serious and intriguing questions…how dark is darkness? How much darkness can a person take? Is darkness as bad as folk make out? Well, I don’t know about that. All I know is you need contrast.

You remember me mentioning my friend the electrician? I brought him back to add a bit of dynamic lighting for this stage. He’s a no nonsense kind of guy, works hard and his rates are pretty reasonable. I’ll give you his card if you like.

His name’s Tony. Not sure about his last name, never had the occasion to use it. It might be on his card.

Once Tony had packed his shit up and left, after finishing off all the Hobknobs like a bastard, I adopted the foetus position and contacted Tharg the Freakin Awesome Dude. “My Lord…” I said, trembling with fear. “My Lord…here is my offering. Will you accept it, my Lord and Master, Master of the Cosmos?” Silence rained, then…”I will.” I half expected him to add “you muppet!” but he didn’t this time.

And with that, Dave went back into that foetal position, waiting for the next proclamation from Tharg to come… waiting and waiting and waiting… but, as we all know, it’s well worth the wait, because that means we get to see even more of Dave’s stunning artwork in the pages of the Megazine or 2000 AD.

You can find this beautiful looking Megatropolis cover on the front of the Megazine issue 431, out on 14 April from everywhere great comics are sold, including the 2000 AD web shop.

You can read more from Dave about Megatropolis in this interview we did back in September 2020, and catch him on Twitter here.