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!

And this week, we’ve a real treat for you, with the return of Stewart Kenneth Moore to the front (and back) cover of the Judge Dredd Megazine issue 440 – out 19 January. Stewart’s write-ups for Covers Uncovered are almost as wonderful as the covers themselves… and he certainly doesn’t disappoint here.

Now, over to the artist for the story of the cover… SK Moore

SK MOORE: As a contrast to the high-octane highway shoot-out I previously did for 2000 AD Prog 2239, I pitched this concept of Dredd just idling in a watching bay. This one is several nods in one.

Here’s Stewart’s pitch to Tharg for this one…

‘A Meg or 2000AD cover pitch homaging several classics. A dramatic uplit image of Dredd in a watching bay, prominent badge ‘ engine parts…but subtle lighting. City lit by lights…carpet of diamonds.’

And the accompanying visual to the pitch...

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SK MOORE: One nod I didn’t mention is from The Graveyard Shift. The first time I recall seeing a watching bay in close up. Note the impossible angles by Ron Smith – I did a little bit of that here on the back cover.

In this image I’m still trying to find my Dredd, to draw him in the best way and most suitable way for my hand. This version is more stylistic than the Highway shoot-out, which is more of a classic image.

I’d like to come up with a Dredd that is fairly quick to draw, that can work in any story. I could lean more realistic but I think we lose some of the unique and elastic language of comics when it becomes too cinematic or noirish. I feel that today anyway, next week I may feel different.

I’ve moved the zipper toward the eagle, this is how Carlos Ezquerra drew him, zipper off-centre. You can’t just flip a Carlos character, they are asymetric and, for that, far more interesting to look at and more difficult to draw.

With Batman and Spider-Man and many others, if you have a composition issue you can flip the figure to open up various spaces, but you can’t do that with Alpha or Dredd.

I’ve done the moody palette thing to death. That started 30 years ago. In recent years I’ve looked at classic comics, so my current method used colour to full comic advantage. But here I have subdued things a bit.

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Oh yes, told you this one was a great one, didn’t I? Stewart just doesn’t ever under-deliver, not in his art, not in his covers, and certainly not in talking about his art either.

Here’s a few close-up shots from the cover, just to get you salivating a bit more…

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Thanks so much, as always to Stewart for that one. And you can catch that cover to the Megazine 440 on 19 January – run (do not walk) to the comic shop, the newsagent, or jump online and order it from the 2000 AD web shop right now.

If you want to see more and read more from Stewart, you can go salivate at the Covers Uncovered for 2000 AD Prog 2179 and the sort-of Covers Uncovered for the special poster in the 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 2020. And you’re also going to be able to see his art on the 2000 AD Encyclopedia, coming at you in February 2022.

You can (and should) follow him on Twitter, go look at his website, and his incredible Graphic Novel, PROJECT MK UlTRA: Sex, Drugs, and the CIA Volume 1 is available right now.

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As for the works and looks he’s referencing… well, the Carlos Ezquerra Lawgiver and the whole Ezquerra look you can find across Dredd from the ages – but maybe take a look at The Art of Carlos Ezquerra.

Classic Carlos ref for SK Moore’s cover.

Likewise, if you’re after something to showcase the incredible work of Mick McMahon, look no further than the Mick McMahon Apex Edition.

And Classic McMahon that also finds its way into Stewart’s cover

And as for Judge Dredd: America… well, that’s a stone-cold classic of Dredd by John Wagner and Colin MacNeil.

And the classic pose from MacNeil that SK Moore brought to his cover this time.

Finally, there’s Judge Dredd: The Graveyard Shift, by John Wagner, Alan Grant, and the incredible Ron Smith, the first time Stewart remembers seeing the classic ‘Watching Bay’ look that this cover’s all about. There’s not (yet – but keep your fingers crossed!) a collection of either this or a bigger Ron Smith collection. However, it’s from 2000 AD Progs 335 – 341 and you can see it in the Judge Dredd Case Files Volume 7.

If you don’t already know it, boy, you’re in for a treat. Wagner, Grant, and Smith at the height of their game, just telling the tale of a Judges team on an eight-hour night shift, an absolute storytelling masterpiece of Dredd.

So, as a special treat – the first episode of Judge Dredd: The Graveyard Shift by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Colin Smith.