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With the final Judge Dredd Megazine of the year, issue 427, Nick Percival shows us just what happens when poor ol’ Father Christmas comes to empty his sack on Deadworld… no spoilers needed, it doesn’t go well…

Megazine 427 comes out on 16 December and you can get it right here at the 2000 AD web shop. Look for the wraparound cover with Ssssanta getting ssssleighed.

Inside, you can find something suitably seasonal with Judge Dredd: He Sees You When You’re Sleeping by Rory McConville and Agustin Padilla, the continued exploration of an alt-universe MC-1 in Megatropolis by Kenneth Niemand and Dave Taylor, the stunning look at the earliest days of the Justice Department in Michael Carroll and John Higgins’ Dreadnoughts, and a haunted house mystery unfolding in The Returners: Heartswood by Si Spencer and Nicolo Assirello.

And seeing out the year as the final strip, you’re getting the latest in the continuing adventures of Judge Death and the gang in Deliverance, where David Hine and Nick Percival have been bringing their A-game month after month. And, to celebrate this most festive time of year, what better way than to let Nick Percival show us exactly what happened when poor old Santa made the mistake of seeing if the Dark Judges had been naughty or nice this year with a wraparound cover full of ssssseasonal sssssleighing.

Nick was good enough to take time away from the drawing board to tell us all about putting together this fabulous cover…

Nick Percival: Creating a Christmas cover was a bit of a ‘bucket list’ item for me. I’d loved Christmas covers ever since I was kid, where they’d always put some snow on the comics’ logo. You knew the big day wasn’t far away when they appeared in the shops.

When Tharg gave me the opportunity, I couldn’t say no. Since my Dark Judges series, Deliverance is currently running in the Megazine, it made sense to feature them on the cover – I suppose I could have tried to tie the image into something to do with the series but didn’t really think I could find any relevant story details where that would have worked, so I opted for a stand-alone piece of festive fun.

I wanted it to be bright colourful even though it was featuring those pesky Dark Judges and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Going for a widescreen wraparound image gave me more room to focus equally on each Dark Judge doing their thing. So, we have Death in the process of breaking Santa’s neck (he must have been on the naughty list), with snowballs at the ready.

I originally intended to have half of Santa’s torso missing but Tharg wouldn’t let me go that far…shame.

Next up was Judge Fear who got a cute Judge Dredd dolly for Xmas Day but his ‘gaze into the face of fear’ routine isn’t doing much here.

Poor old Judge Mortis can’t catch a break, since each present he touches decays in front of him. I hope he kept the receipts…

Finally, Judge Fire having big problems trying to build a snow man. Not doing a good job for obvious reasons.

Overall, it was a fun piece to do and took me away from the usual chaos and carnage of the Dark Judges series, which is now time for me to get back to as the deadline Polar Express is fast approaching and none of Santa’s elves are going to do my pages for me. Bah, humbug…

Thank you to Nick for sending along his contribution to turning Christmas into a terrifying thing – you can get your Christmas Megazine from 16 December in comic shops, newsagents, and the 2000 AD web shop.

Remember kids, unlike Judge Death, it’s not too late to get yourself off the naughty list! And fear now – once Santa recovers from the broken neck (ssshh – magical healing powers), he’ll return on Christmas Eve and expects to find you sleeping!