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!

2000 AD Prog 2167 is out of the stands right now with a spectacular Zaucer of Zilk cover by Brendan McCarthy and Len O’Grady…

Co-written, drawn and co-coloured by Brendan with writer Peter Hogan and colourist Len O’Grady, the second series of the Zaucer of Zilk: A Zaucerful of Zecrets continues in the pages of the Prog – It’s every bit the phantasmagorical psychedelic extravaganza we’ve come to expect from the strip and Brendan and Len took a little time to fill us in on the making of a cover full of trouser trouble for the Zaucer!

As Brendan tells us, everything started with him planning a cover featuring Zaucer and a Fancy Pants riding T’Tooth facing off…

I wanted a cover that showed a bit of magical energy, and with the Fancy Pants and Zaucer in conflict.

Which led to this, Brendan’s first cover rough…

Cover rough – Liar Liar…

After that, he went through the usual pencils and inks stages before sending the final b&w version off to Len O’Grady, his colourist collaborator…

Brendan’s final b&w cover – pants on fire

Now, over to Len O’Grady for a more in-depth look at the nuts and bolts required to get things together…

I got Brendan’s b&w cover and what struck me most was the sparseness of the composition; early on in the first run of Zaucer of Silk, Brendan had mentioned how the movie Yellow Submarine was big touchstone for the comic, and so for this one, my head went straight to the Jeremy Hillary Boob: The Nowhere Man and the Sea of Holes. I’d also rewatched THX 1138, and loved the screaming whiteness of the detention area in that movie, so seeing those floating figures brought it all together in my mind’s eye.

I’d used a dotted texture on Zaucer before to give a sense of depth in a floating space, and a touch of texture, so layered those behind the figures- I find it can give a bit of definition, especially when everything gets soft and supersaturated. My palette was a bit softer, but more stark against a white field.

Len O’Grady’s first colour cover version – the pills begin to kick in

Zaucer tends to turn into a bit of a sprawl (fifty layers is not unusual) as I try various fx, layering, masking, filters and the like, regularly going over the 1.5GB mark once opened, so I’ll condense everything down a bit and save that “final” copy.

This art went to Brendan in floating but condensed layers, to make things a bit easier for him to modify it- in the end it’s his baby, I just get to play with it- at this point we’re up to about 80% simpatico, and that’s a good level I think- it leaves room for surprise.

Anyway, I handed it back to Brendan and I’d like to think he opened up the cover and had a double-takehe’s incredibly generous and always encouraging me to let rip and see where I go with the colour.

Then a few days later he replies with where he sees it going, and that’s my favourite bit. By the end, this cover was probably the most divergent we’ve gotten, which makes it unusual.

Now back to Brendan again…

Len’s colours had the basic lighting dynamic down but I thought I could ‘remix’ it and push the colours further. It went through a radical background change but keeps most of Len’s lighting etc, but I sprinkled some glam rock fx over it.

All of which results in the next colour version, courtesy of both Brendan & Len…

Zaucer of Zilk – who else looks at this and hears some psych version of Boogie Wonderland?

Which eventually, with some more of that McCarthy glam rock fx, transforms into the final cover version…

The final version – Boogie Wonderland on acid, remixed with hard house, electro, and utter madness!

Thanks to both Brendan McCarthy and Len O’Grady for drawing back the veil on the creation of the latest perfectly psychedelic in every way adventures of the Zaucer of Zilk.

2000 AD Prog 2167 is out now!