45 artists hand-picked by Tharg are celebrating the 45th anniversary of 2000 AD, bringing brand-new takes on classic characters in the 2000 AD 45th Anniversary Art Book!

Out on 25 May, the Art Book features famous names from the world of 2000 AD and beyond and fresh new talent, all bringing their interpretations of some of the Galaxy’s Greatest characters!

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Today we’re getting our leg warmers and shell suits out of storage and celebrating the ’80s with more great artists telling us about their pieces for the art book, including DaNi talking Chopper, Staz Johnson going Rogue Trooper, Mike Perkins on his love of Alan Davis and Harry 20 On The High Rock, Priscilla Bampoh on someone fierce in blue and Henry Flint on the lady in (blood) red… Durham Red.

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DaNi – detail from Chopper surfing the big Meg.

DANI – CHOPPER (2000 AD Prog 206)

The character I was assigned to draw for the anthology is Chopper and I couldn’t be happier because he is so cool!

Wanted to make a dreamy piece so I ended up with this pin-up of him in front of the city just floating around and once again had the chance to play with colors for this one (which I don’t usually do as most of my work is black and white).

Whatever project I’m working on, I always enjoy coming back year after year for a 2000 AD collaboration and working with new characters.

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STAZ JOHNSON – ROGUE TROOPER (2000 AD Prog 228)

When I’m asked which 2000 AD character I want to draw, I always defer to classic Rogue Trooper. Sure, everyone loves Dredd, but as much as the Lawman Of The Future is 2000 AD’s figurehead, something about that original version of Rogue & his world just resonates with me. Maybe it’s the ‘old school’ war comic vibe to the stories, maybe it’s Dave Gibbons’ artwork, I don’t know, but it encapsulates everything I love about the prog’s Golden age (yeah, I’m an old git, so sue me).

2000 AD moves with the times, & despite its now anachronistic title it’s never been more relevant, but in the same way that your first Dr Who is always your favourite (Jon Pertwee for me, since you asked) your favourite period of 2000 AD is when you discovered it… so being given the opportunity to revisit him again for this volume was an absolute treat.

It was suggested to me that an image that points to Rogue’s origin at the Quartz Zone Massacre would be appropriate. Given this instruction, I started off with a few thumbnail sketches to establish the basic composition...

Staz’s thumbnails for his Rogue Trooper piece – number 3 was the way to go

My instinct was to go for an action packed scene, but calmer heads prevailed & the classic ‘stoic Rogue’ pose was selected… but maybe with a dead Nort, cos y’know… war n’ stuff. So a final thumb was done & this composition was used as the basis for a ‘finished pencil’ & ultimately the inks & colours.

But at this point I could see something was ‘off’. The scene of chaos behind Rogue didn’t look sufficiently chaotic, it didn’t accurately depict the G.I.’s hopeless plight at the Quartz Zone Massacre… we needed more Norts. These extra bad-guy figures were drawn, comped in & coloured giving us the final image.

Bring on the Norts!

It’s always a joy to draw Rogue Trooper, & this was no exception.

Detail from Staz’s final piece – a perfect Rogue Trooper

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MIKE PERKINS – HARRY 20 ON THE HIGH ROCK (2000 AD Prog 287)

I was commissioned to illustrate the Harry Twenty On The High Rock piece. I was initially given an option of two possibilities and, although the alternative was, without a doubt, an utter classic 2000 AD series there was absolutely no question about the outcome. Harry Twenty was, and remains, one of my utmost favourite stories in 2000 AD. 

It hit me at just that right moment when I wanted to claim a new series as one of my own (and there was a great succession of such series’ ;  Harry Twenty…leading to Skizz… followed by Slaine and D.R. and Quinch… leading to Halo Jones). I’d been randomly picking up issues of 2000 AD whenever I came across them from the outset but started to pick it up regularly from prog 242 – thus (apart from Robo-Hunter in Brit Cit) Harry Twenty was the first “new thrill” I encountered from the beginning. The concept, the story, the characters and, of course, the Alan Davis artwork all spoke to me – cementing that 2000 AD love that resides in me to this day. I’ve not missed an issue.

Detail from Mike Perkins’ final Harry 20 piece

It’s a wonderful lesson to witness the development of Alan Davis’ art throughout the series – sometimes page by page. Starting off from an already remarkable point – albeit scratchier and less assured – to the confidence of line and layout by the end of the series. The artwork is simply beautiful and solidifies my love of Davis’ artwork so much that I’ve always followed him to whatever project he may be taking on. The wealth of characters introduced throughout Harry Twenty is remarkable and a testament to the creativity that has always flourished in 2000 AD. I tend to read my Progs in page order ( except for when The Apocalypse War was taking place!) but I was always incredibly eager to reach the Harry Twenty pages.

As for my piece itself – well, it’s difficult to follow on the heels of Alan Davis at any time and I can only hope that I’ve done the series proud. I’m honoured to have been involved in any aspect – but to have illustrated a montage piece of one of my all-time favourite 2000 AD series is surely the icing on this particular anniversary cake.

Finished art from Mike before adding colours – a great Harry 20

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PRISCILLA BAMPOH – VENUS BLUEGENES (2000 AD Prog 338)

The character I got to draw was Venus Blugenes. In the art, I had the character all bloodied looking tired and in pain. I was basically just thinking what’s the best way to make her look as intimidating as possible.

I had her coming out of what looks like a huge wreckage in a jungle, kind of a way to show her strength and resilience. I look at images of Venus, and I’m like-WOW she’s fierce and deadly, she’s sort of the type of woman I try to replicate with my original characters nowadays.

The fierce looking Venus Bluegenes – detail from Priscilla Bampoh’s art for the book

The last 2000 AD character I made an illustration of was Durham Red, who was a joy to draw, but I feel like I play to my strengths as an artist more with Venus, especially with the colours. I’m not going to lie, I was unfamiliar with the character since I’m still very new to the 2000AD series, so I don’t have a huge attachment, but I wouldn’t hesitate to draw Venus again given the chance.

Priscilla Bampoh’s Venus in process

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HENRY FLINT – DURHAM RED (2000 AD Prog 505)

Of course Johnny Alpha had already been taken so I went with the next best thing Durham Red. She’s scary, cold as ice, perfect bounty hunter, love her to death. Sneaked Alpha into the background for kicks because I’m naughty.

It’s been a thrill to do this especially when it’s one of Ezquerra’s creations. Carlos Ezquerra had such a distinctive style. It’s a real challenge to try and match his energy. Just can’t be done. His characters, the stories he’s worked on and his gritty style are loved by fans and creators alike. He’s greatly missed but his presence remains as strong as ever, what a legacy! All hail King Carlos!

All hail King Carlos indeed!
Detail from Henry Flint’s art book piece – the Vamp with a sneaky Alpha!