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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Dylan Teague’s Dredd keeps guard on Prog 2236

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!

This week – it’s Dylan Teague with the scrotnig cover for 2000 AD Prog 2236, with a damn serious looking Dredd packing a little bit of hardware… you can get hold of the cover when it hits the shelves and the 2000 AD web shop on 16 June!

For quite a while, Dylan’s been appearing on the cover as his lush colours have been making Cliff Robinson’s stunning covers look as good as they do, but it’s great to see his own brilliant work getting the attention it deserves there on the cover, especially when it’s a perfect Dredd.

Dylan’s artwork hasn’t just been gracing the cover of 2000 AD though, he’s also recently been on the inside pages with the art duties for last week’s Judge Dredd strip, Brief Encounter, written by Ken Niemand, a perfect little tale of love blossoming amongst the perps on the holding posts… looking something like this…

Dylan Teague art from Judge Dredd: Brief Encounter – 2000 AD Prog 2235

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Now, over to Dylan for the breakdown of putting the cover together for Prog 2236… it’s a quick one this week, but that doesn’t mean the artwork’s any less wonderful!

I asked Tharg if he was looking for any covers and he said he could do with a backup Dredd cover. These type of covers are always useful to have in the drawer.

I’d done a sketch of Dredd that I was quite pleased with and I thought I could use it as a basis for the cover…

I scanned it in and used it as a base to start drawing the cover in Clip Studio. I added in a background using the ever helpful perspective rulers and sent a black and white rough to Tharg.

He was happy with the rough so I went ahead and finished it all up. I’ve always loved drawing Mega City one so I had a great time on the background of this.

And that’s it from Dylan – simple sketch, quick email, add a background, finish it up… and that’s it. Except, when I try and do that, Tharg ends up first splitting his sides laughing and then sends me back down to the lower levels of the Nerve Centre!

Thanks to Dylan Teague for that – a fabulous cover from a great artist. It’s one of the great Dredd images of the year so far!

Like Dylan says, it all starts off with the sketch he did, although frankly calling it a sketch is underselling it all just that little bit…

The original sketch from Dylan Teague’s files… sketch!!!
Another ridiculously good concept sketch for the cover from Dylan – perspective lines on the attack!
Dylan’s mocked up cover ready for Tharg’s approval
Final b&w version of the cover – move along citizen… nothing to see here.
And the final coloured version – a perfect Dredd cover!

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – PJ Holden sends Chimpsky for a tumble with Prog 2234

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!

This week, we have the return of both Noam Chimpsky and his co-creator, PJ Holden to the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2234… out on 2 June from the 2000 AD web shop, and all good newsagents and comic shops!

After plenty of appearances playing second fiddle to Judge Dredd, Mega-City One’s super-smart simian vigilante now get his very own series, from writer Kenneth Niemand and artist PJ Holden – it’s time for Chimpsky’s Law: The Talented Mr Chimpsky.

So, without further ado… over to PJ Holden…

PJ HOLDEN: It started something like this..

“Matt! Matt! Can I do a Chimpsky cover?”
“Ok, but the Prog for episode 1 we have a cover for, best I can do is episode 3…”
“OK!”

And off I go…

Episode 3 has Chimpsky about to be sucked out of an airlock, so I knew there’d be a few things I could play with there – and a more action-packed Chimpsky cover too!

(Well, somewhere along the line, things changed and this is now the cover of the Prog with the first episode… but, by happy circumstance, it also starts off with Chimpsky being sucked out the airlock!)

PJ HOLDEN: I set up my cover-image-template-idea-sheet and started banging out some ideas

1. Big head Chimpsky (one white/possibly with black with stars behind?) [ok, not terribly imaginative, but I was thinking “COLLECTION!”]
2. Chimpsky being sucked towards the door.
3. Chimpsky being sucked to the door, but reaching to grab something.
4. Abstract Chimpsky lost in space background (very Saul Bass).
5. Chimpsky grabbing the other chimp.
6. Chimpsky surrounded by Jeppersons.
7. Chimpsky and the other ape.
8. Chimpsky being sucked towards door, but much closer on his face in panic.
9. Slightly abstract, Chimpsky shaped head with panels on the inside with various suspicious Jeppersons….

Matt liked the Saul Bass idea (I mean, I didn’t tell him I didn’t know how to do that, it just sounded like a cool idea and essentially I nicked it from the Vertigo Poster…)

And about 25 minutes later, I had this …

I admit it didn’t take any time at all, but some drawings are just … quicker than others!

Anyway, I was sitting with it, and after batting it over to Dylan Teague I figured I could make it pop a little more and ended up with the final piece.

Not sure how the readers will react to this, I know the message board really liked the previous Chimpsky covers and this is very different so we’ll see. But I do think whoever thought of Plummet of the Apes deserves some extra oil rations…

I really am going to have to pitch a more action packed Chimpsky cover at some point, one where he’s mid-flight!

And speaking of Chimpsky in mid-flight… how about this to tempt you? Remember what PJ was saying about Chimpsky being sucked out the airlock… well, here’s part of the first page of 2000 AD Prog 2234’s The World According to Chimpsky

Gorgeous! And there’s more of that to look forward to in Prog 2234.

But with that, PJ was off, something about seeing what other Saul Bass covers he could come up with and reckoning he was really onto something and then going off about how Rory McConville still hasn’t gotten back to him about the Dept K & Conan crossover… you’ll need to read the Department K interview for more on that, I’m afraid.

You can find PJ’s great cover to 2000 AD Prog 2234 on the shelves of your local newsagent or comic shop now, or pick it up in digital from the 2000 AD web shop!

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Neil Googe gets Regened on video!

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!

This week, it’s time to hand over the reins of the Galaxy’s Greatest to Tharg’s nephew, Joko Jargo, bringing you all the best of all-ages wonder with the latest 2000 AD Regened action, in Prog 2233, coming your way on 26 May, from wherever you get your Thrill Power – including the 2000 AD web shop!

Look for the Zarjaz cover by the incredibly talented Art Droid Neil Googe, who sat down with us to share the making of this here cover…

Inside, you’re going to be enjoying the Scrotnig delights of a new Cadet Dredd, a new Future Shock, more from everyone’s favourite light-fingered nanny, Pandora Perfect, and the continuing tales of both Anderson, Psi-Division and Department K!

But now… over to Neil for his Covers Uncovered! And it’s a little different this time, as Neil sent over two beautiful looking finished cover versions, pre-colours, as well as a great video of his entire making a cover process!

First, those two covers…

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NEIL GOOGE: Howdy all…

Neil here. Joko’s asked me to briefly talk about how I go about putting one of these covers together. First, lets talk about some basics. I work almost entirely on an 12.9 iPad Pro, using Clip Studio paint (CSP).

I work print size, at 600dpi, which basically means I am working double size, as most stuff gets printed around the 300dpi mark, a relatively standard practice for comics as this makes for a crisper linework image.

The reason I work print size, but double the resolution, rather than a traditional method of working double-sized print resolution, is because CSP has a “view print size” button. This means it displays on-screen exactly the size it would be in print regardless of resolution. If I worked double size regular resolution, it would show me the image twice the size of print.

Being able to see the image exactly as it would be in print is a huge help for me and something I always struggled with when working traditionally. To the point where a huge amount of my traditional originals are drawn print size using tiny pens… Yep… I used to do that!

Screenshot from Neil’s timelapse video – with backgrounds and rough images

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Okay, next… As you’ll see in the video, the time-lapse starts at a point where there’s a background and a real rough image, that’s because… I draw my real roughs tiny, from there I build the background as a 3D model in SketchUp (more on that later), then place that and the rough together on my working size canvas and then get to work.

From this point, the process is very similar to traditional, except its a lot messier. This is because I can hide the pencils, erase, have multiple pencil layers and ink layers etc. But the process is the same as the way I used to work. Even on paper, after a real rough is done, I actually pencil and ink as I go, rather than pencil the image then ink it. It’s kind of like one process for me, not two separate ones.

Adding in the layers to the Dredd figure

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I keep all the elements on separate layers, so Dredd, perps, backgrounds etc. etc. This makes it easier to make adjustments as the image progresses, tiny movements, scaling, transforms etc.etc. This is also because I use a few tricks, that require things to be on separate layers. But that’s an entire write-up on its own… and I am already waffling on!

As you’ll also see here, I also work important to least important in an image, it helps me keep the focus on the image, and, if deadlines get tight, at least the core focus of a piece is done. So Dredd gets done first, then perps, then backgrounds…

Going back to the backgrounds layer

So I was going to talk about SketchUp and how I use it in my workflow, but quite honestly, that’s a series of posts and videos on its own… so… Here’s a brief breakdown – I also use SketchUp. It’s an invaluable tool when used right, especially for comics. I also use a handful of other 3d apps, and CSP has its own built-in figure posing tool. One app I use in this image is called Handy… I wonder if you can tell at what point I used Handy?

Okay… there we have it, a Cadet Dredd cover done…all that’s needed now is for another of the Tharglings to color it, Gary Caldwell colored this one, and it’s ready to be released as a heavy does of thrillpower for your eyeballs.

Any questions, you can reach me on all the socials, my web site and I do have a youtube channel coming, but right now… yeah… you’ll see.
Thanks all… Hope this helps oh mighty Tharg’s nephew… I did warn you I talk nonsense, and have about the most unprofessional workflow of any of your Tharglings.

Thank you to Neil for sending all that along both the images and that great video – what a star he is! Joko’s mentioned you in dispatches to Tharg, so maybe you’ll get double rations this week down in the Droid zone!

Look for that cover on shelves and in the 2000 AD web shop from 26 May! All the Regened action just bursting out of the Prog!

Now… the full-sized images from Neil’s cover –

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Blood Comes To Thistlebone With The Latest From Simon Davis!

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!

This week, it’s 2000 AD Prog 2232, featuring a typically gorgeous ThistlebonePoisoned Roots cover by Simon Davis to conclude what’s been a chiller of a series… Folklore Horror at its finest!

With TC Eglington and Simon DavisThistlebone: Poisoned Roots reaching its finale in 2000 AD Prog 2232, the blood is well and truly flowing in the woods. But whose blood?

It’s been a series of creeping horrors, as the darkness spreads deep in Harrowvale, with Simon Davis’ beautifully sinister artwork amazing us at every turn. And now, it’s time for one final scare courtesy of Davis.

When we talked to Simon in our Thistlebone interview, he laid out just how he puts his art together, with everything starting with reference and modeling before he puts together the story in some incredible watercolour roughs, exquisite things that many artists would be proud to call their finished work. After this, he begins it all once more with traditional drawing, finishing it off with gouache, ink, crayon, and oils.

Now, over to Simon… one last time… the terror of Thistlebone

SIMON DAVIS: Like my previous cover for this Thistlebone story, I wanted to create an image that encapsulated the feel of it rather than be narratively specific.

I tried a few variations of this design with different British mammals, eg a hare, a weasel, an owl, etc, but it just didn’t seem to work. A badger had featured in the story a few times so I was a little puzzled as to why I hadn’t thought of it before.

So I started to play with various badger/bonemask images and finally settled on this.

I really like images against white that are simple shapes and compositions and always try to have in the back of my mind how they will look on a shelf in a shop.

Matt Smith is always open to perhaps the more obscure imagery that maybe would put off other editors so I am very grateful to him for giving me the go ahead for this as it was one of those ideas I really wanted to paint.

It was painted in oils on a wooden panel and is (hopefully) pleasingly symmetrical.

Short and sweet but damn, the end result just looks so horrifyingly good. You can look for the newsagent terrifying cover on 2000 AD Prog 2232, available from 19 May from everywhere comics to chill and thrill are sold, including in the 2000 AD web shop.

For more on Thistlebone, be sure to check out the interview with writer TC Eglington and Simon Davis here and Simon’s previous Covers Uncovered for 2000 AD Prog 2223. And be sure to pick up the first volume of Thistlebone is from the web shop.

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Leonardo Manco on the finale of Sláine: Dragontamer!

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!

A little late with this one, but we figured you wouldn’t mind, after all – it’s Leonardo Manco’s stunning cover for 2000 AD Prog 2228 and the finale of SláineDragontamer! Leo sends his apologies for the delay, but we know there’s no need!

EARTHLETS, The Ghafflebette Prog 2228…

So… over to Leonardo Manco to talk about that fabulous Sláine cover! Think of it as a love letter to a character this artist has obviously loved working on.

LEONARDO MANCO: When Tharg asked me to do a cover for this Sláine series finale, there were a few things that made it a big thing – it was the last cover for the Sláine. It was my first cover for 2000 AD. And, as always, time was pressing!

It was this last factor that led me to discard dozens of ideas that I did not even put on paper, and so I only focused on a small handful of those ideas to get to the final idea, and because time was pressing and because everything takes me extra time, I was trying to be specific and detailed but, at the same time, as minimalist as possible in terms of composition and details!

So here we go with the ideas that I was working on and some of my previous sketches.

Leonardo Manco’s intitial ideas – a lot to do with an axe!

Stage 1 – At first, all the ideas that came to mind were pretty classic: Sláine posing with his axe. Sláine running with his axe. Sláine in a defensive stance with his axe. Sláine with his arms covered in thick veins… with his axe.

More of the same. Something that has been seen over and over again and I really wanted to get away from all of these things for this last cover.

Axes out…Sláine’s message to you, dear reader!

Stage 2 – Another idea that came to my head was that of Sláine holding his axe towards the reader, and on this one, written in blood we read “kiss my axe” with Ukko doing a kind of F#$% You.

It was not bad, but previously I had already done something similar, so it was not worth repeating, also it looked like Sláine challenging the reader, something more for the cover in the middles of a series, and it was not the case. (Also, I think that, at that time they did not speak in English, much less write.)

On the other hand, I had already written this famous phrase in a hidden way between the pages of this book and, without a doubt, you haven’t seen it yet! HO HO HO!

And yes, he also posed with his axe.

So, discarded.

Another of Leo’s initial ideas… the sadness, the sadness!

Stage 3 – Then, I came up with the idea of putting Ukko in the foreground looking back, as though to the past, with a sad expression while his notes fly into a whirlpool of time where Sláine is waiting to cross the threshold.

It didn’t seem like a bad idea to me, but in the end I discarded it, because the final product would have a lot of fairy tale stuff and without the tone of irony that most 2000 AD covers have.

Stage 4 – So, lacking ideas and with time against me, as usual, I began to investigate all the Sláine covers that had been made, until I reached his first cover, where he is in the middle of a battle. So, I thought, if a fight begins on his first cover, then, on his last cover, that battle should be already concluded.

For the end, Leo eventually went right back to the beginning –
the first Sláine cover for the first Sláine appearance, art by Angela Kincaid for 2000 AD Prog 330, 1983

I dedicated myself to go in that direction and decide which visual elements I would use and which not, for this final cover.

And since, in the first cover of Sláine, the perspective is from below, then the last one should be from above.

The idea of including Ukko on the cover still seemed appropriate to me, since he was always an important character in the book, but I didn’t want to place him there, posing for the photo, or being an accomplice of Sláine as in the previous sketches, this would give a sense of continuity, that the party continues, and it was not the idea.

It seemed better to me to play with the relationship between them during all these years, and since that childish and tender bulling had always existed between them, I thought it would be interesting that on this last cover, Ukko gave him back some of it.

Leo’s final Sláine taking shape, with Ukko giving Sláine the finger… sort of!

The tips of the spears and other elements, they were put there for two important reasons: first, to ‘nail’ the main figure in the centre and, second, with all of them pointing upwards, it gives greater emphasis to Ukko’s finger, which in the center of the image, points downwards.

I decided that the detail of the mucus trickling from Ukko’s finger must have been long and stretched, this would give a feeling of time and calculated childish evil. The time it takes you to figure it out, maybe that’s the time it has been falling from Ukko’s fingertip to Sláine’s forehead.

Also, in the image composition, I took special care that the gaze between both is on the same straight line, to create a central axis of attention.

At first, I thought about adding blood and guts everywhere (it was a massacre after all), but those details would be distracting elements that would not add anything to the main idea, which was to focus the view on the central part of the image, so all those gory elements were discarded.

The triskelion is the supreme symbol of the Druids, according to Celtic culture, and they were the only ones who could carry this sacred and magical symbol that, for them, represented learning and the past, present and future – so it seemed appropriate to place it on this last cover.

Additionally, it would symbolise the evolutionary process of the character and, as we’re used to reading from left to right, it seemed strategic to place this element on the left, while the papyri of the stories of Sláine written by Ukko are carried by the wind to the right to lose themselves outside the margin of the cover.

I did not want Sláine’s posture to look tense or combative as it’s the last cover and there is nothing more to show or prove, so I thought of several possibilities, but the most appropriate was to somehow emulate the posture of Michelangelo’s David.

For a moment I thought about adding some emblematic characters from some of his sagas, scattered on the stage, as I had thought in the previous sketches but then I discarded that idea, because this was about Sláine and his end, and nothing else.

The finalised image in blue pencil and inks – all with that Golden Triangle and the Fibonacci Spiral

Once the image was composed in a blue pencil sketch and using the Golden Triangle and the Fibonacci Spiral to create a more symmetrical harmony composition, I started to work on it directly with a more precise sketch made with pen.

Later, I would use this preliminary sketch to trace on the final pencil.

My pencils were never overworked since I solve everything with the inks in the final process and the pencils are always subject to last-minute changes and modifications.

It is in the inks, and not in the pencils, where I work with all kinds of details and finishes.

Final inks… SO much detail!

Then, the steps of rigour – the base of flat colors, then some layers of the same tones to give lights and shadows, and all that.

Flats and tones added

The colour palette is in shades of ochre, to create the feeling of something old, and there are only colors coming out of that palette in the places that I want to create a focus of attention.

Final stages now – ochre, ochre, ochre!

Once the cover was finished, I added some small details that occurred to me at the last moment which, at first glance, are hidden… but you’ll discover them if you’re paying due attention!Some small drawings made by Ukko, on the papyri that he tells the adventures of Sláine, small drawings made through narcissistic and childish anger (so typical of immature people!) in a love and hate loop, where Ukko kills Sláine, then cries for him, then Sláine revives, and then they love each other again, and so on and so on – more or less the relationship that existed between them for almost four decades!

Remember what we said about the details?

So, at the end, here we had a final cover with the druidic symbols of the past, present and future representing all these years of adventures, the relationship between Sláine and Ukko, a tribute to that first cover…and some dead soldiers over there, because they could not be missed!.

And the final, FINAL Sláine – Leonardo Manco’s finest!

And that´s it.

I gonna miss you Sláine. Bye bloke.

Cheers, Leo Manco.

Well, I told you it was going to be impressive, didn’t I? And it so was. And you can tell, just from the way Leo speaks, that this one was a real love letter to a classic character.

Now, some extras, as Leo sent the images along in huge files, perfect for pulling out some magnificent details…

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Dermot Power’s Back!

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!

This week – Quaequam Blag! – the unexpected return of an art droid who escaped the Nerve Centre was happily waved farewell by a proud Tharg… it’s Dermot Power on the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2229, where Dredd puts the boot down…

BORAG THUNGG, EARTHLETS – Prog 2229 is OUT NOW!

Dermot Power’s scrotnig artwork first appeared in the Prog on the cover of 2000 AD 699, before getting inside with his first Judge Dredd strip in Prog 722. And he was last seen in the Galaxy’s Greatest with the Slaine strip, Treasures of Britain Part 2 (Progs 1024 to 1031) before bowing out with his last cover gracing the front of Prog 1107. He’s worked on the Prog, Judge Dredd Megazine, and put his paints to work on the art for Batman/Judge Dredd: The Ultimate Riddle in 1995.

After that, well, he’s gone on to do the concepts and designs for a few films. Although you probably won’t have heard of many of them… something called Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones and The Force Awakens? Some funny little series about a boy wizard… Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban, and The Goblet of Fire, as well as something called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Crimes of Grindelwald. And if they don’t ring a bell, what about the minor hit that was Batman Begins, or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, V For Vendetta, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Ready Player One, and Dumbo?

Okay, okay, so the Power droid’s not done too badly for himself since leaving Tharg’s loving embrace.

But with his film work on the back burner because – well, you know, <gestures wildly at everything>, he had some time on his hands and that means time to draw some Dredd for YOU!!!

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That was the start of it – a quick rough Dredd piece. Now, let’s hand over to Dermot to give us the lowdown on putting the boot down…

DERMOT POWER: First thing to say is that I didn’t intend this to be a Dredd cover! But the Virus film industry shutdown meant I had lots of free time on my hands last year and I used this downtime to go back to traditional painting after decades of working digitally.

I loved drawing Dredd back in the day and was curious to see how I would paint him now. Turns out not very different – I was hoping to inject a bit of MacMahon in to my usual very Bolland-influenced version. All those big beautiful soft chunky shapes. I think I got some of that in there but there could be a lot more.

After that initial sketch, Dermot worked the image up to full pencils and tight inks…

Looking great so far… back to Dermot…

DERMOT POWER: The problem with Dredd is there is so much stuff to draw. If you are doing Batman you can hide most of him in the shadow of his cape, and if it doesn’t work out you can do another one in about an hour. Much harder to do with Dredd. All those fiddly little pockets and chain links – it is very easy to lose control of the composition with all that clutter – there is a danger of getting bored by the time you are putting clasps on a belt pocket. I get bored very quickly so need to get art done and out of sight or I’ll start ‘fixing’ it.

For example with this Dredd painting I decided the blue-grey background was too blue so I repainted it a slightly warmer grey and in the end it looked exactly the same when I photographed it. If it was digital that would be just pulling a slider but being real paint it took hours.

Then I went to the Warhol exhibition in the Tate and thought ‘maybe I should be braver with the colour’ and painted the background Yellow.

And here’s that Warholised version with that added yellow…

DERMOT POWER: Yeah, that lasted for a few days before I grew tired of it and filled it all in grey again.

That’s what happens when you have no deadline and lots of time on your hands.

I might do another one but start with the bright yellow background. Definitely going to do that. I Just need another Virus to shut the film industry down again.

And all of that work takes us to this… the final image, with Dredd putting his McMahon-style boot down hard on the robots…

So, thanks to Dermot Power for taking the time – but then again, he did have loads on his hands! Hopefully, it won’t be as many years before we get to see his art back on or in 2000 AD again!

You can find Dermot’s Dredd cover on Prog 2229, out 28 April from everywhere comics are sold, including the 2000 AD web shop. Plus, he was interviewed for the 2000 AD Thrill-Cast Lockdown Tapes:

And make sure you head over and see what gorgeous things Dermot’s been up to at his website, www.dermotpower.com.

Now, a little look back at Dermot’s 2000 AD history… first with his very first Prog cover – 699…

First strip inside, Prog 722’s Judge DreddThe Apartment, written by John Wagner…

Then there was his Slaine work… this from his first in Prog 1024…

And then, his very last cover… 2000 AD Prog 1107…

Around 1995, Power was the go to art droid for the Dredd movie covers…

And then there was the time Dermot handled the art for Judge Dredd/Batman: The Ultimate Riddle in 1995 as well…

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered: Dave Taylor’s Magnificent Megatropolis Finale!

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!

This week, Dave Taylor talks Megatropolis for the cover of Judge Dredd Megazine issue 431, which is out now!

That’s a predictably gorgeous cover marking the finale of the eight-episode first series of Megatropolis – predictable because that’s just what Dave’s been doing for the eight episodes of the series since it first blasted into the Megazine with the very special 30th-anniversary issue 424.

With Megatropolis, Kenneth Niemand and Dave Taylor have given us an alt-timeline Mega-City One, one of gorgeous 1930s deco-noir retro-futurist stylings, widespread police corruption, and plenty of familiar names in unfamiliar guises, including Detective Joe Rico and Officer Amy Jara, possibly the last two good cops in the whole city.  

Megatropolis ends here in Megazine issue 431, so it’s all right and proper that Dave Taylor is there on the cover. Now, time for him to tell us about the making of a Megatropolis cover… strap yourselves in, this one’s a doozy complete in 12 steps…

DAVE TAYLOR: As  everyone knows, Tharg the Mighty contacts us via our dreams.

All I remember was waking up with the words “You will produce a cover for Megatropolis.” Next thing I remember is drawing this wee sketch, the image already forming in my slowly waking mind.

Tharg speaks – Dave gets drawing!

I then threw some colour at it. When Tharg the Magnificent speaks, each word contains far more information than a human ear can perceive. Within His words “You will produce a cover for Megatropolis” lay the entire digitised structure of the intended image, all I had to do was to decipher this ancient cosmic language.

Once this colour sketch was finished, within a few seconds I received the words “Yes, like that.”

I knew what these words, sent and received on the “Ether”, meant. He meant “Obviously not as crappy as that, do it with a shit load of background detail and eye catching lighting, you muppet!”

So I started drawing, and within what seemed like moments but was in fact more like days, I produced this “blue line” pencil drawing. I used my blue pencil attachment because I’m programmed like that, as an older model art droid.

There are laws in this universe that can not be broken. There are laws in this universe, if Tharg the Majestic says it’s OK, that can be. No, this isn’t “THE FACE OF DREDD”. It’s the face of Joe Rico, someone very different with hardly any connection to the iconic and much loved British comic book legend Judge Dredd. Don’t go thinking “Well, I now know what Judge Dredd looks like under his difficult to draw helmet.” You might be wrong to think that. Or not.

With the now famous world shortage of ink, I was forced to “ink” this drawing with “traditional pencil”. It’s more dangerous using this method but that’s just the way I roll. In the old days work like this had to be inked because people had much worse eyesight.

Returning again to the fleeting visions received from Tharg the Absolutely Stupendous, I began the arduous task of making a pretty rough “traditional pencil” drawing into a finished, fully lit with colour cover, fit for the likes of you. I established the overall background light using 20thC technology.

Using the same ancient tech (and from here on in) I established the solid blocks of the city and the air cars. I also found the basic colour of the rather disturbingly large patch of blood. It feels rude to ignore the characters in the image while working on the background but that’s what is needed at this stage. As I hope you can see, I’m starting to get a feel of perspective and depth.

Leonardo Da Vinci once taught me that you don’t “colour” comics, you “light” them. I’d hear him say “Colour is a product of light, not the other way around, you Muppet!” The man and the lady are facing the dark unknown and so are “backlit”.

I had to go into each building, each apartment, with an electrician to make sure the city looked lived in. And the cars too, all those tiny little cars, they had to have lights or it’d be too dangerous to drive them in that traffic. The city is beginning to “come alive”.

You remember me mentioning darkness? Stage 10 of this 12 stage process is not working with light, as I’ve been banging on about, but it’s religiously older sibling DARKNESS. This raises serious and intriguing questions…how dark is darkness? How much darkness can a person take? Is darkness as bad as folk make out? Well, I don’t know about that. All I know is you need contrast.

You remember me mentioning my friend the electrician? I brought him back to add a bit of dynamic lighting for this stage. He’s a no nonsense kind of guy, works hard and his rates are pretty reasonable. I’ll give you his card if you like.

His name’s Tony. Not sure about his last name, never had the occasion to use it. It might be on his card.

Once Tony had packed his shit up and left, after finishing off all the Hobknobs like a bastard, I adopted the foetus position and contacted Tharg the Freakin Awesome Dude. “My Lord…” I said, trembling with fear. “My Lord…here is my offering. Will you accept it, my Lord and Master, Master of the Cosmos?” Silence rained, then…”I will.” I half expected him to add “you muppet!” but he didn’t this time.

And with that, Dave went back into that foetal position, waiting for the next proclamation from Tharg to come… waiting and waiting and waiting… but, as we all know, it’s well worth the wait, because that means we get to see even more of Dave’s stunning artwork in the pages of the Megazine or 2000 AD.

You can find this beautiful looking Megatropolis cover on the front of the Megazine issue 431, out on 14 April from everywhere great comics are sold, including the 2000 AD web shop.

You can read more from Dave about Megatropolis in this interview we did back in September 2020, and catch him on Twitter here.

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Richard Elson’s Feral & Foe return on Prog 2227

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!

This week, it’s everyone’s favourite malchemical magical duo, as Richard Elson gives us the fantastical and funny Feral & Foe on the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2227, which is out from 14 April everywhere the Galaxy’s Greatest is sold, including the 2000 AD web shop!

It looks very much like this…

(‘Those things, those slithering things coming towards us, what are they?’
‘They’re probably not Melvin!’)

Since returning in 2000 AD Prog 2224, the stars of Feral & Foe have had to cope with the magical fallout from the shocking end to series one, where it all looked dire for Necromancer Bode and warrior Wrath, those two bickering former evil minions of the defeated Malign Lord.

As Dan Abnett said in our Feral & Foe interview‘Our heroes have survived thanks to ‘magic reasons’ and can continue their adventures. But that is, kind of, the only way out… so I thought if it had to be magic, then it also had to be complicated. It had to be ’magic with massive consequences’… ‘This ‘season’ goes off on a very unusual tangent and literally mixes everything up, to comedic, horrific and “high adventure” effect…’

Oh yes, Wraith and Bode have definitely been well mixed up by it all, finding themselves in even more ridiculous trouble than usual, meaning we get even more of everything that made the first ‘season’ work so well – loads of fantasy action for sure, but packed with great characters, sparkling comedic dialogue from Abnett as Wraith & Bode find even more reason to bicker and argue this time around and, of course, it’s all tied together with the great Feral & Foe artwork from Richard Elson.

Now, over to Rich to tell us all about putting together this latest cover…

RICHARD ELSON: This was an incident rich episode of Feral & Foe; Tharg decided to feature the spider skulls on the cover and asked me to come up with ideas. As usual, I submitted a page of 4 roughs and, as usual, the one I preferred (no 4) didn’t get picked.

(An arachnophobe’s nightmare thanks to Richard Elson’s rough cover designs)

Tharg, in his infinite wisdom, chose the first rough and, as I started to sketch up the full size image in Photoshop, it occurred to me that the composition was similar to that of the first cover I ever did for 2000AD, back in prog 676 (I think).

(Yep, that’s the one Rich – we’ve included it at the end)

That Prog 676 cover showed Nina, the protagonist of the series Shadows, crouching against a wall with two hands reaching towards her from the reader’s viewpoint.

I didn’t actually find the original cover out, but I vaguely remembered that the colour scheme featured oranges, greens and yellows – so I thought I’d use a similar palette for the Feral & Foe cover.

(Death by laser grid – Wraith and Bode weren’t expecting that one!
Richard Elson’s blue line pencil rough plus perspective grid)

I usually tighten up the blue line rough with a red line full pencil stage, but I thought there was enough information to go directly to inks over the blue-line for this one.

I added a perspective grid layer as a guide for the steps and the bone wall.

(Bulging eyes, bony legs, dripping saliva… that’s you with a hangover that is.
Rich’s partial inks for the cover)

The water, wall and top shadows were added as separate layers in case I needed to mess around with opacity or colour holds before I flattened the inks for colouring.

(Worst Prom photo ever.
Rich’s Finished Inks)

When I actually got around to looking at that prog 676 cover (once I had gotten over the shock of how f***ing awful it was) I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had remembered the colour scheme pretty accurately.

I hope everyone is enjoying series 2 of Feral & Foe as much as I am enjoying working on it. This is such a great job!

(No, add in the noxious fumes and we’re definitely back to you with a hangover.
Rich’s final colours added)

Thanks to Rich Elson for that Covers Uncovered and you can find that Feral & Foe II cover on the shelves from 14 April – or pick it up from the 2000 AD web shop.

For more Feral & Foe, check out our interview with Dan Abnett and Rich for the start of Feral & Foe II, and there’s another great Covers Uncovered from Rich for 2000 AD Prog 2163 for the first season of Feral & Foe.

First of all though, that cover to 2000 AD Prog 676 that Rich didn’t exactly enjoy looking at again – but like all the great art droids, he’s predisposed to hating the old work!

2000 AD Prog 676 – Richard Elson
2000 AD Prog 2163

As for some more of Rich’s great cover work, check out these three beauties – Prog 2192, where old Joe gets up close and personal with the great bear for End Of Days, Prog 2035 with his Traitor General cover, and Prog 1907 with a Kingdom cover evoking all those great war comics of old… albeit with added Them!

2000 AD Prog 2192
2000 AD Prog 2035
2000 AD Prog 1907
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Covers Uncovered – Mike Collins’ Nunja Leaps Into Action!

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!

Borag Thungg Earthlets and welcome to another Covers Uncovered! This week, it’s the return of Mike Collins on the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2226 – out on Wednesday 7th April from stores and the 2000 AD web shop.

Mike Collins has had a long and glorious career in comics, with work for Marvel UK, and both Marvel and DC in the US, all the way through to Doctor Who comics and the brilliant Apollo from SelfMadeHero. He’s also an in-demand storyboard artist for Doctor Who, Sherlock, Good Omens, Sex Education, His Dark Materials, and A Discovery Of Witches.

But he’s also been a presence in both the Galaxy’s Greatest and the Judge Dredd Megazine over the years, ever since his first strip, the Future Shock, Uncommon Sense in Prog 372 all the way back in 1984. Since then, he’s worked on Sláine, Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Hondo City Justice, .co-creating American Gothic with Ian Edginton and, more recently, was the artist on Judge Anderson: Undertow, in Progs 2077-2080.

Now he’s back with the James Peaty written Tharg’s 3Riller, Chorus And The Ring in 2000 AD Progs 2226-2228, where Battle Sister Evangelista is tasked with investigating the fate of the War-Pontiff for The Divine Chorus of Freedom. It’s a cracking bit of sci-fi done so well, and Mike’s art is a huge part of what makes it yet another Thrill-powered new 2000 AD strip!

So, over to Mike to give us the tale of covering the Nunja!

The very first images for the cover – Mike’s rough cover pitches – Fear The Nunja!

MIKE COLLINS: I haven’t done a cover for 2000 AD in years and thought that the ideas and imagery that James Peaty and I had conjoured up for this Tharg’s 3Riller would pop on the cover of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic.

I pitched it to Tharg with the puntastic tagline Fear the Nunja which harked back to the beloved early inky fingers days of 2000 AD.

With Tharg’s beneficent assent, I came up with a couple of variations- either a full figure in mid-leap, or a tight posed torso shot, blades at the ready.

Tightening things up for Tharg’s approval!

Opting for the all-action version, the Beleguesian Benevolent Boss then set me to tightening up my rough, with that approved it was straight on to pencils.

Getting the cover into shape – rough pencils
That final pencil version

I did a little Photoshop tweaking I then printed the art out in blueline to ink in that now quaint brush & pen style on Bristol board.

The final inked version of Prog 2226’s cover

Once I had Tharg’s approval it was then off to fellow Cardiff artist Dylan Teague (you’ve heard of him) to render the piece in his glorious hues and await the trade dress and copy to make it a whole thang.

And finally, ready for action and given the colour treatment from Dylan Teague –
Mike Collins’ full cover to Prog 2226

And there you go, another scrotnig cover all ready to hit the shelves and fill up your digital devices! Thanks so much to Mike for grabbing time in between so many deadlines to send this over to us!

You can find more from Mike at his website, freakhousegraphics.com and follow him on Twitter.

More Ghafflebette covers uncovered coming your way next week, but for now, Splundig vur Thrigg and we’ll leave you with this classic Mike Collins cover…

Sláine by Mike Collins and Mark Farmer – 2000 AD Prog 493 (1986)
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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Tom Foster on his ‘A Penitent Man’ cover

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!

This week, we’re chatting to artdroid extraordinaire Tom Foster about his cover to 2000 AD Prog 2225, introducing us to the new Judge Dredd storyline written by Ken Niemand and drawn by Foster – A Penitent Man.

Tom Foster’s come a long, long way since winning the 2013 2000 AD Art Portfolio Competition at Thought Bubble. His first 2000 AD work, off the back of his win, was the Tharg’s Terror Tale: Done Deal, written by Alec Worley and published in 2000 AD Prog 1886. His distinctive style was an immediate hit with 2000 AD fans and he’s gone on to co-create and illustrate the first Storm Warning series in the Judge Dredd Megazine, written by Leah Moore and John Reppion, as well as having his art on Dredd and Sinister Dexter.

And now, we get to see his first longer Dredd tale, as Old Joe is on the case of an ex-Judge back in MC-1 after serving his 20 on Titan. It’s got plenty of moody Dredd going on, plus we get to see Joe butting chins and badges against the SJS – looks like being a great one, and all with Tom’s cracking art.

Now, over to Tom for the skinny on his Prog 2225 cover –

TOM FOSTER: When I get a cover assignment, I generally like to give Tharg three options to choose from, in the hope that I can avoid incurring his wrath.

In this instance, The Mighty One had given me a proposed brief, so one of the options was already spoken for. It was to feature Dredd on his lawmaster, backdropped by an image of the erstewhile Judge Asher, undergoing the horrors of Titan surgery, superimposed over the Mega-City One skyline.

(He always feels like somebody’s watching him – And he has no privacy (ooh ooh)
– always with the up to the minute musical references!)

The second option was of an over-sized Dredd sitting in judgement over a tiny Asher, under the glare of a skull-shaped spotlight (representing the SJS)

(Watching you… watching me – more cutting-edge musical references there!)

Lastly, I went for a bit of an oblique one – diagrams of the surgery, in the style of creepy old hand-tinted plate illustrations. I didn’t think it was very likely that this one would get chosen but figured it would make for a bit of memorably weird fun if it were, so included it just in case.

(Dentistry on Titan – still easier to get than an NHS dentist in Britain!)

I mocked the first two up with 3D models in Daz 3D Studio, hand-drew the third and coloured all three in Photoshop.

Tharg picked the second one, so I started working up a pencil rough.

I used to use 3D models for just about everything, but now I only use them now and again, either for particularly complex images or for something like this, where the picture is so stripped down and simple that everything rests on the legitimacy of a few basic elements. It’s also pretty quick and easy to throw a 3D version together when it’s such an uncomplicated composition, particularly as I already had so many of the 3D elements already and just had to pose them. (Thanks, incidentally, to Alex Ronald for letting me use his Dredd helmet and pauldron models).

(A beautiful view of Alex Ronald’s helmet there
– seriously, Tom gives us a line like that and doesn’t expect smut?)

I don’t trace any of my 3D mock-ups anymore – now I try to draw everything from scratch, only using digital models or photos for reference. So I drew an A4 rough in pencil and sent it on to Tharg.

(So, they say you’ve turned over a new leaf? Chinny reckon says Dredd)

Tharg approved it, so I worked up an A3 finished pencil version below, but Tharg felt Dredd was looking a little old and craggalicious about the face, so I applied some Vaseline to my scanner and scanned it again. Of course not – I drew it properly, like a good boy, and got a nice little pat on the head.

.

From there, I printed out a blueline copy and inked over it with a sable brush, using a bit of sponge for the texture effect of the spotlight beam.

(You can see why he got booted to Titan
– absolutely no idea giant Dredd is watching him, terrible Judge observational skills)

The colours seemed like a pretty straightforward proposition, given how much black was in the image, but it ended up taking quite a while to get them right. It can be tricky, when colouring a line drawing that relies so much on dramatic lighting, to judge just how realistic to make the lighting effects. It can either look very flat or totally inconsistent with the original drawing.

In the end, the key was in blowing out the colour as much as possible near the spotlight and only having richer, deeper colours towards the outskirts of the picture. It might seem like an obvious solution, but I’m quite thick – so that can make things more difficult.

At this stage, I was pretty happy that the cover was done, but, when I mocked it up with the logo and the rest of the trade dress, the black areas in the background started to look very empty and flat.  I think, when it’s just the picture, your brain just sort of ignores the shadowy background and focusses on the areas of detail – but once a bit of lettering gets involved, it interferes with that sort of tuning out process. So I put some texture in the background with a sort of red, spackly effect to match the rim lighting on Dredd’s helmet and pauldron.

(I am Joe, Judge of Mega-City One!)

This was another case of trying to avoid a photo-realistic lighting effect, in favour of something that would fit the line art style – so I kept it to basically spots of a single colour on black, rather than anything more graded. The biggest inspiration for the effect was the background in that bit in the opening titles of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, where he says “I am Adam, Prince of Eternia”. I always liked that look. To say nothing of Adam’s exceptional sense of dress.

That’s about it, really. I enjoyed this one a lot and feel like Dredd’s face came out pretty well. This is my first multi-part Dredd story, so I wanted it to have a dramatic signature image that summed up the story in the simplest possible terms. In that sense, I think this one works.

Thank you to Tom for giving us that look into the cover for his first Judge Dredd multi-parter. You can find both Tom’s cover and the start of his Dredd series, A Penitent Man, with the new 2000 AD Prog 2225 – it’s out on 31 March in newsagents, comic shops, and you can get it from the 2000 AD web shop.

And we all learned a new word too – Pauldron. It’s a component of plate armour that evolved from spaulders in the 15th century – so yes, Dredd’s shoulder armour. Who says comics aren’t educational?

For more from Tom, check out his brilliant From The Drawing Board video, read an interview with him from back in 2018, and go follow him on Twitter. Tom’s first 2000 AD cover, to Prog 1986 back in 2016, was the subject of the first 2000 AD website Covers Uncovered feature, with Pete Wells giving us the lowdown…