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 we talk to the insanely talented art droid Simon Fraser, whose gorgeously muted palette of colours and striking linework is making the second series of HersheyThe Brutal – look simply stunning!

On the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2218, Fraser takes brutal to a whole new level, giving us a beaten and bloodied Dirty Frank (and canine companion)…

You can find 2000 AD Prog 2218 out on 10 February in all good newsagents and comic shops and from the 2000 AD web shop. Inside, you’ll be able to thrill to the penultimate episode of Hershey: The Brutal, written by Rob Williams, art by Simon, showing us just how bad an idea it is to get on the wrong side of the former Chief Judge.

Now, over to Simon to see just how he went about doing the dirty on poor old Frank…

SIMON FRASER: So this cover was almost comically straightforward. There’s barely a story here but I’ll stretch it out as far as I can.

Matt asked me for a cover of Frank, ” a battered looking Frank with his bare fists up, about to fight El Demonio. Can just focus on Frank, though, looking like he’s been through the mill.”

So I drew this...

It’s a reasonably polished pencil ( for me ) not a rough layout because I really don’t think there’s a lot to quibble with here and I’m under a bit of deadline pressure to finish the last two parts. If I can cut out a stage then that’s a win!

So I chuck some colour on it from the limited palette I’ve been using for the story itself. Like so…

As for my Palette for Hershey:The Brutal – it’s comically small!

All the colours of Hershey!

I basically just downloaded a couple of picture postcards of Brazil and Colombia and sampled some of the colours into a photoshop palette. I stuck to this palette for 94.7% of the time.

Occasionally I used a different tonal value of one of the palette colours. The thing about keeping things so disciplined is that when you eventually do break the rules, it’s quite shocking. For example, there’s no vivid red in the whole story (all that blood you see is purple) so when I push that right at the end, it adds an extra kick to the storytelling.

Matt gives me the ‘GO’ to do the final art based on my rough. I inked in ClipStudio, Blue-lining the pencil rough and working on it using a Pen called ‘Frenden Feathering’ which I’ve grown to love. It’s very squishy and a bit square so I can get a slightly erratic line out of it if I want, but at the same time, it does beautiful delicate feathering if required to.

The other pen I use a lot is a fineliner with a very small amount of flexibility and Stabilization turned up to 100%. I call it ‘Architecture’ and I draw buildings and machines with it. The line has some feel to it (like a fineliner pen), but stabilization keeps my hand steady enough that I don’t need to use rulers very much at all. I try and use rulers as little as possible as they can make things too rigid and tense. Anyway, I digress.

I coloured it up in my trusty old copy of Photoshop CS5. I added a bit of lens flare (don’t hate me!) and that was that, Hershey’s favourite punching bag in all his gory (not a misspelling).

And that’s it – another thrill-powered 2000 AD cover in the bag! Once more, thanks so much to Simon for sending these over to us.

That beautifully brutal Dirty Frank cover is on the front of 2000 AD Prog 2218 – and you can pick that up from the 2000 AD web shop from 10 February.

And if you’re looking for more from Simon and Hershey, check out the Covers Uncovered piece he wrote for us about the surprise return of Hershey in Disease with 2000 AD Prog 2176.

And of course, the collected Hershey: Disease comes out on 17 August 2021. You can find details of that, along with all of 2000 AD’s collections for the year here.