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2000AD Covers Uncovered – A Pain in the Neck!

The REAL Batman returns as Rebellion prepare to release ‘The Dracula Files’, in October, just on time for Halloween! The classic tales, which originally appeared in Scream Magazine, were written by Rogue Trooper’s Gerry Finlay-Day and Simon Furman and perfectly illusrated by the legendary Eric Bradbury.  

Who better to ask to provide a terrifying cover than the brilliant Mr Chris Weston, who knows a thing or two about vampires and things that go bump in the night! Chris said “I was asked to create a cover for an all new collection of The Dracula File, which previously appeared in the much-loved but short-lived Scream weekly.

“Here’s the brief I was given: “The majority of the story takes place in eighties London, so I’d like the cover to encapsulate that. Maybe have Dracula attacking a city worker (with bowler cap and brief case), l– with a backdrop of Ben Ben/Parliament. It’s more comedy so don’t be scared to have fun.””

“As ever, I started the preparation for the job by taking some photo-reference, using myself as a model. I’ll spare your readers the sight of me poncing about with a cape on and fangs in. I then produced the following rough based on photos too gruesome to share:”

Pinstriped eek!

“I then use Google Sketch-up to find a 3d model of Big Ben and rendered a shot of the building at a suitably dramatic angle.”

Large Benjamin

Chris continues “This was montaged together with my sketch to produce a pretty comprehensive prelim of the cover. I even went on Google Earth and found the correct railing design for the Palace of Westminster. The lamp-post is accurate too. I don’t know why i bother making sure I get details like this right… it doesn’t make my life any easier.”

Those charity muggers are getting more extreme!

“Next, I added the logo and sent it off to Rebellion…”

Fangs can only get better!

“I got the thumbs up from them pretty quickly, and set about finishing the final version.
I tried something new on this piece: I produced a meticulously shaded pencil version of the image:”

It’s okay, Bernard had eaten chicken Kiev for his lunch…

“Next, I created a separate layer in photoshop and blocked in the colours. This is generally known in the trade as “flatting”, and most artists pay someone else to do this laborious task. I’m too tight and too much of a control-freak to trust someone else with that job, so did it myself.”

Flat battery!

“Using the flat layer to select areas I started tinting the pencil art to the required hue. Some water-colour textures were pasted in at this point to add atmosphere.”

Tinto Bats (if you get this pun, you should be ashamed of yourself!)

“Then it’s just a case of painting in extra shadows and highlights until the job is done.”

A blood sucking parasite and Dracula.

Blood banker

Wow, absolutely amazing! Thanks Chris! As I mentionws earlier, Chris has form with Vampires. He says “This is a very traditional, Lugosi-inspired take on Dracula, which was fun. Previously I’d created a silk-screen print homaging cinema’s original vampire tale, Murnau’s Nosferatu.”

“Monster, monster, monster!”

As well as this hilarious story “I did come very close to drawing a cover for one of David Bishop’s “Fiends of the Eastern Front” novels. I submitted a rough featuring Captain Costanza which, according to Garth Ennis, looked like he was doing something unspeakable to a Nazi skull. I don’t know if this was the reason my cover was rejected, but, alas, it was!”

Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him really well!

“Also, on a similar theme, I was once commissioned to draw a Black Max picture, a terrific strip from Thunder weekly. This is one of the strips recently acquired by Rebellion, so it wouldn’t surprise me if we see a collection of this story released at some point in the near future. But who should they get to create the cover of this potential collection? Any ideas?”

Banzai Battallion! 

Quite simply, another stunner from Chris. I’d have him doing every cover for every book if it were up me! Thanks to Chris for sending the raft of images, amazing work as ever! The Dracula Files is released on 19th October 2017, order yours or face the wrath of the Count!

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2000AD Covers Uncovered – Pinterest!

Who judges the judges that judge the judges, eh? I don’t know but they ruddy well need to have a look at Judge Pin! This highly strung SJS judge is currently performing her role with just a little too much zeal, murderously judging those she feels don’t live up to the badge! Will pin be a thorn in Dredd’s side?

This fantastic new character has been brought to us by Rob Williams and phenomenal series artist, Chris Weston in the new Dredd thriller, The Fields.

I asked Chris to talk us through the creation of this terrifying cover, he said “Tharg provided the artistic brief: “Something quite sparse – a creepy, spot lit image of Pin holding a bloody knife in one hand, and a Judge’s helmet in the other. “

(Incidentally this marks my third 2000ad cover to feature a large figure-shot of a character with a knife: see also my Indigo Prime Ripper cover and Rogue Trooper cover from over twenty years ago. The trilogy is complete!)”

I’ve put together the blade trillogy below, it’s a nice representation of Chris’ artistic development. Those other two covers are 26 and 23 years old!

Knife to see you, to see you, knife!

Chris continues “The first thing to do was get my reference material, which meant my wife once again reluctantly posing for a photograph. But I think it’s great that Karen is gracing the cover of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic on the week of our 20th wedding anniversary! It seems appropriate!”

That time when Chris forgot his wedding anniversary…

Chris lets us know a little about the ‘inspiration’ for this nasty little character “With my reference in hand, I then produced a prelim of Judge Pin in all her murderous glory. I “May” have looked at some photos of a prominent politician for more inspiration…
Possibly one known for making dramatic “cuts” to the police force, who can say? We all know S.J.S stands for Strong, Just and Stable, right?” I don’t know what he’s talking about…  

Highly Strung and Unstable?

Next Chris looked at colour choices for the uniform; “I wasn’t entirely sure what colours the SJS ere sporting these days, so I provided Tharg with a couple off choices to pick from. I really liked the blue trim on the helmet, but that was too much of a departure from previous continuity. Soon after this, Dylan Teague, THE colourist had turned in his finished work, and I felt it was better to stick to the colours he chose. They were a combination of the two roughs I supplied anyway, so it was no hardship.”

I’m loving the blue, that’d look great in Brit-Cit…

The thin blue swine?

“You’ve got red on you…”

“With the rough approved by Tharg, I then proceeded to ink up a tighter version of the figure. These days I scan the art in full colour and don’t bother to bitmap or threshold the image because I like the paper textures and the brush-strokes to be visible on the printed page. It gives it a more organic hand-produced quality.”

“Pin pin!”

Next Chris begins to digitally colour the image “I then produced a layer made up of flat colours, which I use as way of selecting the desired areas I wish to colour. I actually quite like the look of this flat, coloured art. It looks like something out of a European comic book. One day I may just do a strip in this style.” Yes! Yes! Yes!

Chris is very talented in the art of flatulence

“Now I just began the process of modelling the figure in Photoshop; building up the colours to produce shade or subtracting them to make highlights.”

Pin prick?

Until finally the image is complete “Eventually, I look up at my clock and realise I’ve spent far too long on the job, and for the sake of my own bank balance, I should knock it on the head and move on to the next assignment!”

She has such pleasures to show you.

Phew! There we have it, one of the most sinister covers to feature on the Prog for a long time! Huge, huge thanks to Chris (and poor Karen!) for the images and excellent commentary, both social and artistic! 

Chris is truly one of the 2000AD greats and it’s always an event when he appears in and on the Prog. I’m very excited (and a little bit scared) to find out more about Judge Pin, how will she feature in Dredd’s future?