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 it’s the turn of Boo Cook to adorn the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2188 with a The Order cover featuring ye olde Armoured Gideon in a classic naval battle pretty much right out of a Turner painting (and thanks to Boo, you’ll be getting plenty of Turner puns all through this one).

It looks like this…

You’ll have been thrilling to Boo’s most recent artistic delights with the psychedelic Dreddverse tale Blunt III in the Judge Dredd Megazine recently. But his credits for TMO stretch back some 20 years plus now, beginning with Prog 1208 in August 2000, on a Steve Moore penned Future Shock; Home from the War.

So, to get the skinny on the cover, it’s time to Turner this Covers Uncovered over to Boo Cook…

Portrait of the artist with his At-At on his Ed-Ed.
Photo courtesy of 2012 interview with Brighton Source.

.As this summer marks my twentieth year in the service of Tharg’s mighty organ, I was very pleased to be back on cover duties.

I think Tharg’s initial request for the cover was for the 18th-century version of Armoured Gideon to be firing on an old ship in a Turner-esque naval battle. It took me a few seconds to process that as it’s pretty far removed from what I usually get up to, but I do like getting thrown a curveball now and then.

The painter J.M.W. Turner had previously made quite an impression on me during an A-level art trip to London, so I knew roughly where the cover was heading. Other highlights of that trip included an aubergine fight (not pictured on the cover).

I had a good search for Turner naval battle paintings online and there were plenty to get my juices flowing. Apart from getting a decent angle on the robot, the main problem – I quickly realised – would be finding a balance between ‘full Turner’ and the artistic sensibilities of a modern comic cover. This basically meant making the seascape and ship a little more obvious and slightly less impressionistic so the cover still had a bit of visual clout while hopefully being recognisable as a Turner homage.

The initial colour rough Turnered in to Tharg for approval

So I knocked up that colour rough and sent it off to Tharg and aside from us both agreeing that Gideon needed to obscure a bit less logo it was good to go.

I usually have two approaches to my comic art these days – the traditional ink and photoshop colouring route or the more gritty and expressive heavily tonal pencil and photoshop route, so given the nature of this beast I went for the latter.

Boo Cook Turner-ing in those pencils

In this approach I mostly tend to fill the entire page with heavy graphite but as I knew the sky would be fully photoshop painted I figured it would be a waste of time to go tonal on the sky at the pencil stage and just made sure that rough compositional info was there.

After scanning the pencils in I got stuck straight into the sky – I do love painting a wild sky in photoshop. A good example of the changes I made compared to my usual style is the sun in the background – it’s heavily textured, way more than I would usually paint a sun. In fact, I wouldn’t put any texture on a sun usually but being a Turner tribute I splozzed the paint around a bit (although not to the level of full Turner).

(Yeah – splozzed – Boo tells us it’s a technical term!)

Yep – look at those Cook Turner-esque Sun textures!

Painting the sea was great fun, again not something I do often but I really enjoyed borrowing some deep tealy greens and translucent wave-tops from the Turner reference.

Once I’d nailed a look for Gideon having scanned various quite different versions of him into my brain I painted him up adding plenty of water splashes and explodey stuff in an attempt to arrive at some semblance of 18th century Pacific Rim style fayre.

Pacific Rimeon?

As a side note the lazerz were originally going to be orangey fire blasts but they conflicted with the sun too much. FACT.

Turnering from red laser to blue laser – same result –
Armoured Gideon wins at Battleships again.

As is often the case with my artwork, my favourite bit of the painting is completely insignificant and almost unnoticeable – in this case, the unlucky buccaneer draped over a plank of driftwood in the foreground…

The alternate ending to Titanic, where Leo kicked Rose off the door!

Anyway, that’s about the size of it apart from thinking up lots of cover tag lines while I worked such as “TIDE TURNER!” and “TURNER THE CENTURY!” all of which I am very happy to say Tharg did not use…

Thanks to Boo for chatting and showing us his workings out of the cover he eventually Turner-ed in (plus giving this one its title). 2000 AD Prog 2188 is available from comic shops, newsagents, and the 2000 AD web shop.

Now, Turner-ing to a quick bonus cover feature from the Cook Droid…

2000 AD Prog 1500 (2006) with Tharg resplendent…

2000 AD Prog 1532 (2007) with Dredd under the flag of Booth…

Another Joseph Turner inspired cover, this time The Red Seas for 2000 AD Prog 1699:

2000 AD Prog 1817 (2013) – a glorious Ezqueera homage…

2000 AD Prog 1830 (2013)- gloriously old-school going-ons for Gunheadz

2000 AD Prog 1999 (2006) – Move along cits…