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

45 great artists making 45 great pieces of art, all interpreting the characters that have made the Galaxy’s Greatest what it is over the last 45 years!

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We’ve already shown you the works of legends in Part 1, the art of characters from the first 200 Progs in Part 2, looked at the characters from the 80s in Part 3, and gone into the 90s and more recent characters in Part 4. The likes of Kev O’Neill, Mick MacMahon, Henry Flint, Sean Phillips, Priscilla Bampoh, Langdon Foss, and Bex Glendining have talked about what the characters mean to them and shared some of their art with you.

But of course, sometimes we have art droids who happened to be having their annual service or are in for essential repairs… and that’s just what happened here, with Lando, Hannah Templar, Mateus Manhanini, and Simon Coleby all coming out of Tharg’s droid workshop and then sending things our way. But when the art looks this good and they have interesting things to say, that’s absolutely fine!

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Constanta looms over the Eastern Front – detail from Simon Coleby’s piece

SIMON COLEBY – FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT (Prog 152 – 1980)

I was absolutely delighted when Keith invited me to contribute a Fiends of the Eastern Front piece, largely because it was so unexpected. What a privilege – to add even a little something to such an absolutely classic 2000 AD story! Also, of course, a perfect justification to spend work-time revisiting the magnificent creativity of the mighty Carlos Ezquerra.

I loved the grittiness of the textures that Carlos depicted in that story, and the way he showed Hauptmann Costanza as overwhelming and enveloping his victims in Stygian blackness. I tried to catch something of that (dark ) spirit in my piece. I hope that my drawing can stand for what it is, but I especially hope that it can be taken as a hugely sincere nod of respect from an established 2000 AD creator to a hugely-missed absolute 2000 AD master.

That Panzerwaffe trooper’s evening doesn’t look very likely to end well!

Simon Coleby’s ‘original marker sketch’ for his piece – please, someone explain to Simon what a sketch is!
And the final image – pencils and inks

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LANDO – FINK ANGEL (Prog 193 – 1981)

I think my first experience of 2000 AD was reading collections of Rogue Trooper stories when I was a kid. The brutality of the warfare in Trooper was really haunting, especially the way humans were not only facing lethal weapons on the battlefield but that the pollution in the atmosphere on Nu Earth was so extreme that a tear in a suit meant certain death for the combatants. The idea of a completely inhospitable world in total war is a terrifying concept… and a warning to us about the folly of constant aggression and environmental destruction.  

Detail from Lando’s finished Fink Angel

I also read some collections of early Dredd stories with the Angel gang in them around the same time, but wasn’t so familiar with Fink Angel as he appeared in later Progs. There is something very creepy and gnarly about this character that I could easily imagine drawing.  Initially I was going to draw him in the Cursed Earth but decided it would be fun to do a Mega-City One background as he ends up there in some of the strips. I wanted to draw him on a trash pile in the city’s underbelly but also really wanted to show the scale of the city megastructure, so I settled on him crouching on an open-top refuse truck.  The size and chaotic energy of Mega-City One with giant tower blocks almost being like self-enclosed mini-states is a really great concept, it reminds me of some of the work of JG Ballard.  

2000 AD has such a legacy, I really like its satirical political roots and have always enjoyed checking out one shot dread stories. Some of the artists were doing something really stylistically experimental and different, especially with colour, artists like Simon Bisley and John M Burns. They are almost making paintings rather than conventional comic colouring.

All of that meticulous and incredible detail on the prep work for Lando’s Fink Angel!

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MATEUS MANHANINI – SLAINE (Prog 330 – 1983)

The character I was assigned was the Celtic barbarian, Sláine. It was very rewarding to illustrate a great character with almost 40 years of history, knowing that he has impacted and accompanied the lives of thousands of readers.

As an artist, we always feel a little afraid when we work with classic characters, but it is not something we can refuse, our inner child who grew up reading these stories speaks louder and gives us motivation and energy to honour the affection that the fans have for the story!

Kiss His Axe – detail from Mateus’ final Slaine image

Inspired by the Sláine The Horned God art by Simon Bisley, and Sláine the King, Demon Killer art by Glenn Fabry, my goal was to get as much as possible to represent the character’s grandiose stance and all his power through a single image. To present all his irreverence and courage. In the chosen sketch, he is on a battlefield, standing over a mountain of defeated enemies, looking at you and asking “are you brave? do you want to be next?”. The contrast of the character’s hard expression with the exaggerated textures and colours of the illustration form a combination that I personally love working with.

This was the first time I’ve ever done collaborative work with 2000 AD, but I would love to repeat the experience illustrating Chopper because I can already have some idea in my head of how I could explore textures and colours with him. I think he is a character that allows the artist to push their creativity to the limit and I love this kind of challenge.

Mateus’ preliminary Slaine sketches
Mateus’ Slaine line art

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HANNAH TEMPLER – HALO JONES (Prog 376 – 1984)

For the anniversary art book, I illustrated Halo Jones! I was super excited to take this character on because I draw a lot of women and sci-fi, so her character was right up my alley.

What a perfect character to end on – Hannah Templer’s Halo Jones

For this piece, I explored a couple of different concepts (including sketches of alien planets), but really wanted to focus on a sense of wonder, excitement and exploration. I was inspired to draw Halo Jones flying through space (literally), surrounded by a surreal background full of brilliant hues and colors. You can also see elements from the comic in the background – I love the retro-futurist designs for the spaceships and cities, and had a lot of fun creating a sense of scale for this piece.

Hannah’s initial sketches for the Halo Jones piece