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Available to buy now from the 2000 AD web shop and whichever stores are open, Simon Coleby brings us the third part of The Vigilant saga on the cover and inside the pages of Judge Dredd Megazine 421

Yes, the stunning saga of Rebellion’s super-team of classic British comic book characters, The Vigilant, comes to a reality-shattering conclusion in the pages of the Judge Dredd Megazine #421 with a special 22-page finale. And of course, it’s all under a suitably stunning cover to really mark the end of a stunning series.

Simon was good enough to send over his process images that went to make up that cover. We’re incredibly grateful to Simon for getting this over to us as he’s had what could best be described as a rather busy couple of months, both before and in lockdown. It’s a tale of computer breakdowns, beating a new computer until it did what he wanted, and then a surprise lockdown house move – it’s definitely been a busy, busy time for him! Thankfully, all has settled down a little now and we look forward to seeing whatever is next from one of 2000 AD’s finest artists!

Now, here’s the making of that great Vigilant cover… over to Simon…

And so; the cover for the final chapter in The Vigilant’s tale.

The previous two covers showed the team in heroic, dominant poses. This one had to suggest a moment of peril. Perhaps of defeat. It needed to suggest the questions appropriate to a cliffhanger ending. Will they survive? Will they return? Will the Leopard from Lime Street go back to wearing that leopard-print onesie?

The design of the piece was fairly straightforward – a three-tier composition with the mauled team in the foreground, the looming figure of the demon Mazoul in the midground, dominating the image, and the haunted manor house in the background to provide depth and a sense of scale. And also because who doesn’t love drawing gothic, dark, spooky architecture?

To add to the sense of disorder, I decided to go for a tilted angle – in cinema, known as ‘Dutching’. It’s a technique I find very useful to add interest to my panel compositions. The practise originated in German expressionist film-making, largely being used to convey alienation, madness, disorder and all that kind of fun stuff. For some reason, it seems to work well in my art. Make of that what you will.

Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton both use it to great effect in their movies. You can also see it overused to hilariously awful effect in the Scientology disasterpiece ‘Battlefield Earth.

The idea for the drawing was fairly strong and straightforward from the outset, so I didn’t need to do a huge amount of preliminary work. I did a few rough sketchbook thumbnails, just to sort out the balance of the elements, then I put together a marker rough on A4 paper, which I submitted to Keith in the Nerve Centre for approval.

As usual, I drew the pencils for the finished page on A3 typing paper, starting with a rough blue-pencil drawing, and then refining it with fine-liner marker pens.

I scanned the finished pencil work, then printed it in cyan on A3 Bristol board for inking.

The piece was inked using Rotring Art-Pens, Japanese calligraphy markers, Chinagraph pencils and splatters of ink applied from an old bit of kitchen sponge and flicked from a toothbrush.

After all the mucky stuff with ink, I scanned the image back into Photoshop for a final bit of digital polish.

Len’s colours are superb, as always – a restrained yet strong palette. Warm colours emphasise the foreground, with cooler colours around the haunted manor. The flame colours add drama and impact and also help to ‘pop’ the figure of the demon.

So, that’s that one. We bid farewell to this heroic team. I can only hope that the trivial matter of a global pandemic won’t stop this story finding its way into readers’ hands.

Thank you so much to Simon Coleby for sending the art along.

Now, as a bonus to all you lovely readers – another great bit of Coleby Vigilant artwork – something he put up first on his Facebook… – it’s also a little insight into just what a damn trooper Simon was in getting The Vigilant finished and for taking the time to get the images over to us – he’s had a busy, busy time in lockdown!

A couple of days ago I finished the third ‘Vigilant’ story. That was an ‘interesting’ one — a challenging script, then a dead computer. A new computer which turned out not to be up to scratch, so then another machine and all the fun of sorting out compatible software. Then just for extra chuckles, here comes a global pandemic — having to pack up my studio and unexpectedly move house, mid-job. Never a dull moment, eh? Anyway, with my brilliant collaborators, the job was put to bed with a week to spare — all good and everyone’s happy.

So, for a change and just to chill out I thought I’d do some drawing today. A spec thing I’ve been playing with. Not sure if it’ll get used or how, but I’ve been enjoying bunging it together.

I do love calligraphy when I get a chance to incorporate it in my stuff, so this one has some of John Dee’s occult Latin text, rendered in a lovely Arabic style font. Because why not? Anyway, just a thing that I’ve been playing with, not for any particular reason.

He’s also sent along the skull reference piece…

And then, a few days later

I’ve been doing proper work today, but also pretty-much finished mucking about with this spec thing. Just going to bung some colours at it, then call it done.

And finally

So — that piece I was working on for fun a couple of weeks ago. I bunged some colour on it and Tharg’s in-house graphic droids logoed it up.

Yep, like it says – Vigilant – Rapture ends the saga (for now) in Judge Dredd Megazine Issue 421 – out now – get it from the 2000 AD web shop!