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, a fabulous new Judge Dredd cover from the mega-talented art droid Steven Austin adorning the front of the Galaxy’s Greatest for 2000 AD Prog 2286, out on 15 June!

Steven got his break in 2000 AD back in 2016 with Prog 1982 for a Time Twister tale, The Timeless Assassin, written by Rory McConville, after being spotted by Tharg in the 2000 AD fan-comic Zarjaz and then going through the much-dreaded cycle of submission and rejections from TMO. But despite the knock-backs, Austin kept submitting and eventually impressed Tharg with his style and great artwork, proof once more that you should never give up, Tharg may say no, but he’s always looking for new art and script droids! Because since then, Steven’s established himself both on the covers and inside everyone’s fave sci-fi weekly and the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine.

So, over to Steven with, as he puts it, his ‘waffle!!’

STEVEN AUSTIN: So this idea for the cover was a pitch, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a Dredd cover with MC-1 kind of morphed into his portrait for a while, this came from a cover I saw years ago, I think it was a Daredevil cover but can’t for the life of me remember who drew it and haven’t been able to find it again, but the image stuck in my mind. 

I sent Tharg an A4 rough but, on completing it, I came up with a slightly different angle on the original rough and doodled it down in the bottom left…

Dredd IS Mega-City One – staring down Perps for the last 45 years!
Layouts stage – Tharg and Steven went for the small one here.

Both Tharg and I preferred this version so I worked up another A4 rough using this design…

Mega-City Dredd – the approved layouts

This was then blown up to A3 and lightboxed…

Final pencils for Mega-City Dredd – or are they?

I then inked this piece but somehow cocked up Dredd’s face, or at least his mouth and chin, it ended up looking weak and too soft…

Dredd’s chin… too soft?
Inks for Steven Austin’s cover

However I liked other elements of the image so threw a load of white ink at it, made some changes and then lightboxed the A3 inked version again… I don’t usually do this but in this case I thought it necessary.

Back to the drawing board and the lightbox to fix that chin – far moodier!

I then inked this piece leaving all of the buildings, both in his helmet and background clear… 

Inks added to the chinny/final version of another classic cover

I then thought it would be more effective with the background buildings in black with just those in the helmet clear so decided to send Tharg versions of both to see which he thought worked best, again he agreed and went for the darker background. 

Happy with this I sent it off to Tharg who had Jim Boswell colour the piece, I think Jim’s colour work on it is outstanding, it was nothing like I had imagined it to be on drawing the piece, but I do love it.

There you go, a tale of two chins! Thanks so much to Steven for sending that one along.

You can find 2000 AD 2286 wherever you pick up your weekly dose of Ghafflebette comics, including the 2000 AD web shop from 15 June. You can find Steven on Twitter here, and be sure to check out what he’s had to say about previous covers for Prog 2184 here and Prog 2211 here.