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 2000 AD Prog 2223, with a gorgeous but gnarly Thistlebone: Poisoned Roots cover by Simon Davis.

The first series of Thistlebone chilled us to the bone back in 2020, with writer TC Eglington and artist Simon Davis collaborating so well to give us a dark and chilling tale of folk horror madness. That first series will be released as a collection on 29 April, but before that we get to enjoy the 12-part second series, Thistlebone: Poisoned Roots that began in 2000 AD Prog 2221.

After the events of the first series, Poisoned Roots takes us back into the woods, back to the horror, as a terrible archaeological discovery in the woods uncovers ancient skeletons and evidence of ceremonial killings. With new horrors coming to light, Seema, the journalist responsible for persuading Thistlebone cult survivor Avril to return to Harrowvale in the first series, finds herself digging far deeper than she should into the mysteries surrounding the Thistlebone cult.

All of which means more chills, more terrors, and more chance to revel in the dark beauty of Simon Davis’ artwork.

In our Thistlebone interview, Simon talked a lot about his process of putting the art together, the labour-intensive old-school methods eschewing computers and embracing the joy of the paints. Everything starts with lots of reference and models for characters to produce the complete story in watercolour roughs.

After that full Thistlebone watercolour rough comic is done, he begins anew with traditional drawing, all finished off with gouache, ink and crayon on hot-pressed watercolour board.

For the latest Thistlebone cover, Simon only has one process image… the cover rough done pretty quickly…

SIMON DAVIS: I wanted this cover, like the covers on the first series’ not to be directly linked to the narrative. I prefer to do images that can be used out of context that hopefully still convey the nature of the story.

Because the early part of this story is linked to the forest and more specifically a downed tree, I felt that roots would be a good starting point. Skeletons are revealed in the first episode and a deer mask in the third so I thought a combination of the two and a unifying spinal root would make for a pleasing image.

I was also clear in my mind that a visually simple layout and composition would be ideal, so I settled on the white background. Not only does it prioritise the image, it also will hopefully be intriguing when seen on a newsagent or comic shop stand.

The rough was done quite quickly and the final image, painted in oils, stayed pretty faithful to it.

And from there, with Tharg’s approval (of course), it was time to begin the drawing and painting process again!

And for the result, check out 2000 AD Prog 2223 that you’ll see on the shelves or in the 2000 AD web shop from 17 March.

There you go, a short and sweet this week – but that doesn’t make that any less of a stunning cover!

For more on Thistlebone, be sure to check out the interview with writer TC Eglington and Simon Davis here. Thistlebone: Poisoned Roots began in 2000 AD Prog 2221 and the first volume of Thistlebone is being released as a collection on 29 April.