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!

Judge Dredd Megazine issue 444 sees the triumphant return of veteran artdroid Andy Clarke! It’s on sale wherever Thrill Power is sold, including the 2000 AD web shop, from 18 May.

We were delighted to see Andy not only return to the comic, but also send some images and blurb for 2000 AD Covers Uncovered. Sadly, the Clarke droid currently has a minor software glitch that inexplicably causes him to refer to The Mighty Tharg as Matt. I can hear Mek-Quake ‘investigating’ the glitch over the sounds of Andy’s screams right now…

Andy begins “I sent an email to Matt earlier this year basically as a way of sending my congrats on the 45th and – although I don’t think I explicitly stated this (I really shoulda) – his amazing tenure as editor. I wasn’t sure he’d remember me at all, but with the anniversary and how it seems like yesterday that Matt started at 2000 AD, it just felt like a good thing to do. With the Battle Action cover and my becoming a little obsessed with the first 11 Dredd Case Files books, 2000 AD had been on my mind a lot the past year or so.”

“And I’ve enjoyed emailing back-and-forth with Wiggz over the years about this and that, so I’ve always kept in touch of a sort – like a distant relative who never calls or shows up to family get-togethers.”

“Anyway, despite the abundance of artistic talent Matt can call on, he asked if I was up for a script or a cover. So I wiped away the tears of joy and got to scribbling some cover sketches – it felt like 2004 again, except hopefully I wasn’t quite the clueless dumbass now that I was back then… Yeah, right!”

“So, once I’d taken a good look at the strip reference Matt sent over, I sent him a handful of sketches. No detail really, but the important things are there – the helmet, the gun – just enough to get a sense of ‘does this work or not?’.”

Dredd inexplicably recreating the Nirvana Nevermind album cover…

Andy continues “Matt picked #1 and I set it aside to come back to while I worked on some other stuff. For some reason, my brain farted and I decided I wanted to have a go at colours too, so I asked Matt if that would be okay, he said ‘Yes’ and then I felt the anxiety set in. ‘How are you going to do this? You don’t colour! You don’t colour because you’re always disappointed in the results when you do! No colour sense, no clue – dumbass!’”

I think we all know what is causing those bubbles. Dredd really needs to lay off the synthi-beans.

After a brief hiatus, Andy got to work on these wonderfully tight inks, showing just why he is one of the best in the business…

Stoopid small boots were always making Dredd trip over.

With the inks done, it was time for Andy to tackle the big Elmer in room… “So, for once I ignored my inner critic and had a good think. I’d only done 2 coloured covers before, and they weren’t even intended to be covers originally, so the pressure wasn’t there. This time it was. First thing I did once I’d done the drawing and the inks was come up with something for the background. I’d never depicted underwater before (that I can remember anyway), especially a toxic underwater, so despite not really knowing how to go about it, had a surprisingly good time doing it. It’s just a texture (probably some ink disaster from years back) that I poked, prodded and colourised until it looked alright.”

A huge advocate for Droid rights, Andy made this dirty protest to highlight the Mighty One’s draconian working conditions at the Nerve Centre. 

Andy continues “To at least try to make it look more like an underwater scene, I added a few streams of green toxic-y air-bubbles.”

A rare handkerchief used by James Fenemore Snork himself!
Andy installed the Jackson Pollock plug-in to help create the final background. 

With the background ready, it was back to old Dredd himself; “Then it was onto adding grey-tone to Dredd. It’s really just another round of inks – but in grey, so I can work out stuff that would look too blunt or a total mess if inked up in black.”

It looks like Andy took the “Old Stony Face” moniker a little too literally.

“Then came the flat colours placed underneath the grey-tone. This is where I either think, ‘hmm, something’s not right,’ or ‘hmm, this might come out alright after all.’”  

Thankfully, it came out better than alright – wow!

Once again, Dredd had totally overdressed for the justice department pool party.

“Finally, I added highlights, gradients etc. to round off the whole thing. This is where I agonise and tie myself up in knots, tweaking things and fussing – retaining anal – before I realise enough is enough and put myself to bed.”

“Oh Joe! I’ll never let go! I promise!” Rose lets go, Celine Dion begins to warble “Neeeeer! Faaaaaar! Wherever you aaaaaaare!”

“The final step was sliding the background in behind Dredd and sending it off to Matt to see if it all looked okay . . .

Luckily it did.”

It certainly did! What a fantastic cover and what BRILLIANT colours! Any need not worry next time! Thank you so much to Andy for taking the time to do this, and it’s absolutely fantastic to see him back in the House of Tharg where he belongs!

And that’s it! Thanks so much to Andy for sending that one along. Like we say, look for that stunning cover blasting off the shelves and in the 2000 AD web shop from 18 May.