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 – the Simp-ly stunning cover to 2000 AD Prog 2211 by Steven Austin and colourist Chris Blythe, marking the final episode of the Judge Dredd 5-parter, Simply Normal, as written by Kenneth Niemand and drawn by Austin and Blythe.

And if you recognise the image, you’re probably right – but we’ll let Steven Austin give you the story of that as he gives us the lowdown on the cover…

Steven Austin: I was asked by TMO to come up with some ideas for for prog 2211, the issue featuring the finale to the Dredd strip I had worked on with Kenneth Niemand, ‘Simply Normal’.

I already had an idea based upon images from the 1967 Vietnam protests where demonstrators are placing flowers into the muzzles of the police rifles, I felt that the symbolism illustrated from this image was both apt and striking.

This is the Pulitzer Prize-nominated image, taken by photographer Bernie Boston during the ‘March on The Pentagon’, 21 October 1967. You can read more on it at the Wikipedia page and Boston’s obituary from the Boston Globe here.

‘Flower Power’ – photograph by Bernie Boston, taken during ‘March on The Pentagon’, 21 October 1967.

Steven Austin: However, as I was asked to come up with ‘some ideas’, I felt that I should present a variation – coz that seemed the professional thing to do – but was quietly confident that Tharg would choose this one.

I beamed across some thumbnails and thankfully Tharg did exactly that, stating it was, ‘Something a bit different’.

Initially, I was going to draw the Lawgiver coming in from the left of the image with the hand and flower on the right but from a design perspective, it didn’t work for me as the gun is supposed to be static and the hand moving in to place the flower into the muzzle – a flower which, by the way, you’ll notice is a Daisy relating to the main character – and so as the reader naturally reads the image from left to right I used some artistic license and swapped it around.

Once I was happy with the initial idea I went about drawing the final piece. Most of my work is drawn without reference but I do use it for images whereby one small error will blow the whole effect and so I photographed my own hand in the position I required and photoshopped a daisy into it.

I then blew up my thumbnail to A3 size, lightboxed it roughly, using the photo of my hand and flower for ref, pencilled it and inked it using the old brush.

Simp-ly the pencils…
And finally, the inks – Simp-les!

Once the image was complete and the inks sent off to the nerve centre the colouring of the piece is out of my hands. However, my hope was that Chris Blythe who coloured the strip would be colouring it. In fact, I realised that I’d drawn it with him in mind hence all of the background space I left – I love how Chris fills the spaces with those lovely textures he achieves.

 Well, he did, and I wasn’t disappointed – and that light on the mode selector…genius!

And there you go, cover complete from initially thoughts through to the inks – it all seems so Simp-le when the artist talks it through, but it’s a classic iconic cover in the grand traditions of the Prog.

Thank you once more to Steven Austin for sending that across – and of course, a tip of the hat to colourist Chris Blythe for the incredible job he did on this one!

You can find 2000 AD Prog 2211 in shops and from the 2000 AD web shop from 9 December.