The celebrations for 2000 AD‘s 45th year continue with the publication of the 45 Years of 2000 AD Anniversary Art Book this week!

Expect 45 pieces of artistic brilliance – brand new takes coming from artists old and new, both familiar names to readers of the Prog and new and exciting artists from further afield!

Inside you’ll find 45 stunning pieces from 45 great artists with one simple brief – interpret the characters that have made the Galaxy’s Greatest what it is over the past 45 years! And what a lineup it is… not just fabulous familiar names from the past and the present of 2000 AD history including Kevin O’Neill, Sean Phillips, Chris Weston, Henry Flint, and so many more, but some great artists who’ve not really been associated with 2000 AD before, including Jamie Smart, Hannah Templer, Priscilla Bampoh, Annie Wu, and a host of others.

Available in a standard hardcover or a special slipcase hardcover exclusive to the 2000 AD webshop, this is a unique collection honouring four and a half decades of groundbreaking comics!

Pre-order/order now from 2000AD.com:

HARDCOVER >>

EXCLUSIVE SLIPCASE EDITION >>

Pre-order/order from these stockists:

HIVE.CO.UK >>

BOOKSHOP.ORG (UK) >>

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Over the next few days, we’ll have artists aplenty talking to us telling you about the characters they’ve covered in the Art Book, plus plenty of behind-the-scenes process art. But to start, we figured there was no better place to start than with two genuine 2000 AD legends… Kevin O’Neill and Mick MacMahon, but first, Oliver Pickles, one of the commissioning editors behind the book to explain where the idea came from, and SK Moore with his frontispiece…

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OLIVER PICKLES – 2000 AD COMMISSIONING EDITOR

The idea spun out of an office chat about art that dovetailed with the ongoing discussion about which books were being released in conjunction with the 45th Anniversary (books like the 2000 AD Encyclopedia, and the Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition).

We worked up a list of characters/strips that had featured in 2000 AD over the years, ensuring that we had some contemporary strips represented in the mix with the obvious golden age classics.  I insisted on Hewligan’s Haircut and no one could stop me.

We then drew up a list of artists – it was a mix of 1) people who we had always wanted to commission but who would otherwise have been unable to commit to a comic strip, and 2) the kind of artists who we just thought were the exact fit for the character/story (Jamie Smart for D.R. & Quinch for example) but had never had the chance to draw that particular story.

Just one of the artists not normally associated with 2000 AD, but a perfect fit for the characters…
DR & Quinch by Jamie Smart

There was an occasional bit of negotiation, I approached Dave Lander with an idea that he might draw the A.B.C. Warriors but he said he would much rather draw Rogue Trooper, I would have been happy to let him except that Rogue had just been signed up to Staz Johnson, I sent him the full list of characters that were left and he remembered reading the McMahon Fink and Ezquerra Destiny’s Angels storylines as a kid, and I think he did great work on his Fink Angel piece.

Another great unexpected bit of artwork in the 45 Years of 2000 AD art book picked out by Oliver
Lando/Dave Lander’s Fink Angel

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SK MOORE – FRONTISPIECE

I was given the frontispiece to illustrate. This is an illustration that comes before, or adjacent to, the titles of a book and is often a vignette of some kind that aims to capture the tone of the book.

In my case the only fictional character I had to draw was Judge Dredd. But my task was to set Dredd amidst four portraits. My subjects were – Artist Carlos Ezquerra who generated the incredible design and look of the world of Judge Dredd. Writer John Wagner who wrote him into hilarious/terrifying/action-packed life. Writer and editor Pat Mills, who dreamed up the character name and shaped the world-building Cursed Earth and who was the first editor of 2000AD. And writer and editor Matt Smith, the current and longest-standing editor in 2000AD’s award-winning history.

Pat Mills – detail from SK Moore’s frontispiece

My first task was sourcing images of each of these chaps that could all be placed in such a way that they would work together around a central image of Dredd. That was probably the hardest thing I had to do. Part of the job of this frontispiece is to celebrate those behind this incredible sci-fi-insanity, the people who’ve kept the Prog coming at us, week after week, without fail forever. So I found it ironic that I struggled to find images of them.

Anyway, I then made line drawings based on the images. I didn’t do those in comic style, maybe I should have. But it didn’t feel right so I didn’t and just let real-world illustration blend into comic illustration.

I decided on a generic Dredd ‘on duty’ as the centrepiece and beneath that an image of a more extreme scene in the character’s history, in this case a Stub-Gun shoot-out at the height of the classic Apocalypse War story, an epic that’s horrors echo down the years in Dredd’s world even now. Here I made a very slight attempt to suggest more of a Carlos style Dredd. 

I’ve said it before but I wouldn’t be an artist today if it wasn’t for reading a particular Dredd story, drawn by Carlos Ezquerra, at a critical time in my life, it lit the art touchpaper. So 2000 AD holds a special place for me and always will for that reason. I think it hooked me because It was science fiction, which I loved, but it was also funny and that seemed unusual. And it was funny because it was irreverent and it was irreverent because its mirror reflected this stupid world we live in and the morons who live here.

The frontispiece in all its celebratory glory – art by SK Moore

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KEVIN O’NEILL – RO-BUSTERS

When first approached to contribute a page for the Art Book the conceit was to draw a character I was not associated with. I turned that down as it held no interest for me but was then asked to contribute a Ro-Busters page in colour. That I could not turn down as I love those characters and enjoyed designing them for their debut in StarLord and doing the odd cover and pin up. Indeed when transferred to 2000 AD Ro-Busters later became my first freelance work after leaving my post as Art Editor.

Writer Pat Mills and I had partly devised the strip back in the early days of 2000 AD as a cynical International Rescue. Mr 10% was a remnant of that early version. When my friend Editor Kelvin Gosnell began putting together StarLord I was given Ro-Busters to design and things moved smoothly with Mek Quake, Mr 10% and Hammerstein. Ro-Jaws however was described in the first script as a humanoid robot dustman with a cloth cap and a dustbin on his back. For the life of me I could not make that work but had some ideas on a wheeled mode of transport. It was Kelvin who, seeing me trying to solve Ro-Jaws final look, said simply – “make him a dustbin with teeth.” Brilliant! The minute I revised the design and fiddled with proportions to give Ro-Jaws his cheeky look I knew I had it.

When drawing the Art Book piece I wanted to get the best out of the prime characters who Pat and I saw as robot Muppet show like figures and full of energy. This may be my last art on good old Ro-Busters and I hope it does them justice. For my money Mick McMahon and Dave Gibbons were the best artists on the strip but I’d like to think I came a decent third.        

Your old matey Kev O’Neill. May 2022

Detail from Kev O’Neill’s Ro-Busters piece

MICK MACMAHON – BAD COMPANY

Keith Richardson mailed me about this pin-up book and suggested that I might like to do my take on Bad Company. To be honest I’d never heard of Bad Company, but once I’d had a look at it I knew it was something I could get my teeth into.

First priority was to decide which characters to use, there’s a lot of ’em! At the roughs stage, I had several goes at trying to compose a shot where the characters are standing around in classic pin-up fashion but there were so many legs my head was spinning, so I decided to do an action shot instead.

Once I’d had the idea that they would all be firing their weapons only to the left or the right, it all seemed to come together quite naturally, and through the judicious use of smoke (the artist’s friend), I managed to not have to draw any legs at all. Hurrah!

Detail from Mick MacMahon’s finished Bad Company piece

Mick was also gracious enough to send along the full process of his work on the Bad Company piece as well – which is something we just had to share with you, because why should we have all the fun of opening up an email to see this sort of thing!? Seeing the way that one of 2000 AD’s greatest puts a page together, layouts, pencils, inks… it’s still just a joy and something that constantly amazes…