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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Paul Williams covers Megazine #422

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 chat to art droid Paul Williams about his latest cover – Judge Dredd Megazine #422.

Paul was the winner of the 2000 AD art search competition at Thought Bubble 2017 and has since been published in Prog 2072’s Future Shock: Sunday Scientist. and in the DeMarco, P.I. 3-parter An Eye… in Megazine issue 410-413. He had his very first cover just last year, with 2000 AD Prog 2146.

With this latest Megazine cover, he’s created a classic Dredd image that you’ll be able to see for yourselves from the 2000 AD web shop and comic shops when the Megazine hits the shelves on 15 July.

So, over to the Williams Droid for the skinny…

After landing my first cover for the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic last year, I started pitching a few new ideas to Tharg but wasn’t managing to tempt a second commission out of him.

I was having no luck with a couple of pieces that attempted to “showcase” the character of Dredd (below) so I decided to take a different approach.

Clearly I had to up my game! Simply posing Dredd wasn’t getting me anywhere so I wanted to try something that was a bit more “graphic” (in terms of design) and less just depicting a moment frozen in time.

This resulted in a concept that I think is quite different to my usual style, or at least in terms of drawing from some of the influences that don’t show up so much in my comic work. Below is the rough I sent off.

After getting approval from Tharg’s delegate on Earth, Matt Smith, I began to work in some more detail to give it movement.

Usually, most illustrations begin with a sketch but in this case all I had on paper was literally a bunch of lines of action spreading out from the top right corner with a vague idea that I wanted the Lawmasters to follow them. I then took that concept into 3D modelling software and mostly figured out the composition by moving my bike models around in a perspective grid. 

Incidentally, I usually favour the more ‘classic’ Lawmaster in my Dredd art but wanted less complicated shapes for the foreground of the image so I nicked the design Jake Lynch has perfected for a one-off, as it’s quite streamlined.

Because I work digitally my art doesn’t always separate into “pencils and inks”. Sometimes, like here, it will involve something a bit more like “sculpting” where I’m moving things I’ve drawn around and resizing to find the right compositions, then taking bits out and re-drawing them to add a bit more fidelity.

What will usually happen is I’ll do that until I have something that could pass for inks, then I’ll do “final” inks which are tighter and have a clearer line.

I remember wanting it to almost feel like a “splat” of ink on the page that had organised itself into a more complex illustration, with high contrast between the solid blacks and the empty spaces.

That required me to leave out a bit more detail than I’m usually comfortable with but – for something so out of my usual comfort zone – I was satisfied that it looked more or less exactly like what was in my mind!

Thanks to Paul for letting us inside the making of his latest Megazine cover – out from Wednesday 15 July in print and digital!

You can read an interview with Paul and his co-winner, script-droid Laura Bailey here and both Paul and Laura talk about their DeMarco strip on the Thrill-Cast here. And you can find Paul on Twitter and Behance.

And finally… a look back at Paul’s very first 2000 AD cover – Prog 2146.

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered: Of Clones & Belly Buttons – talking the cover to Prog 2189 with Neil Roberts

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 more skin and teeth than Dredd’s going to be comfortable with – all courtesy of one of the best cover droids – Neil Roberts.

As for just why Dredd‘s having a dental disaster, you’ll be wanting to check out End of Days by Rob Williams and Colin MacNeil, when MC-1’s finest faces down the first of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in Brit Cit.

Neil’s one of Tharg’s minions who sticks to covers, beautiful, stunning covers you can always see from a mile off. As for how this one came about, it all started with a brief from the Mighty One himself… now, over to Neil for the commentary…

Tharg’s brief was literally that, short and to the point: ‘a shot of Dredd focusing on his chest… pulling open his uniform to reveal a mouth’.

Thumbnail #1 – You really wouldn’t fancy being Dredd’s dentist, would you?

I ran off a few different thumbnails based on the notes and reference materials. The final image chosen was the more abstract concept and hopefully more impactful for it.

Thumbnail #2 – still no belly button though

Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to paint Judge Dredd many times and, as a piece of art design in itself, he is so iconic and so ingrained in pop culture, you don’t have to show much to know who it is. With that in mind, I wanted to reduce his presence in the image to its barest essentials whilst still driving home a narrative.

Thumbnail # 3 – Dredd’s heartburn really gets out of control

Basically, a classic case of ‘less is more’.

I gathered some reference materials together to refine the pose and anatomy (Do clones have belly buttons? How hairy is Dredd’s chest?). In many ways I wanted the cover itself to feel as if it was physically being opened – designed to look like something beautiful and disgusting at the same time. A little bit of Cronenberg body horror on the bookshelf.

The goal of any cover is to produce an arresting image that makes you want to buy it and/ or read more. With this piece, and all my work, that’s what I’m always striving for.

Neil’s final cover image – complete with belly button.
But face it, you’re not looking at the belly button
.

.

Thanks to Neil for giving us that look into the Jaws of Dredd… and clearing up that whole belly button thing.

2000 AD Prog 2189 is available from comic shops, newsagents, and the 2000 AD web shop.

Fancy a little bit more from the Roberts Droid? Of course you do…

A particular favourite of mine from the many, many great covers that Neil’s done over the years… 2000 AD Prog 1665 from 2009… the boys looking damn good here…

Judge Dredd Megazine 326 (2012) – A monstrous Neil Roberts Hondo City cover – and Pete Wells has a great Covers Uncovered for this one here.

2000 AD Prog 1991 (2016) – Dredd going for the whole Barry Sheen vibe – another great Covers Uncovered for this one, courtesy of Pete Wells here.

2000 AD Prog 2014 (2017) – Ritterstahl’s future date not going to plan in this lovely study by Roberts for The Order – Pete’s Covers Uncovered for this one here.

2000 AD Prog 2040 – Neil gets Dredd under wraps in this one from 2017 – and there’s another Petey Covers Uncovered here.

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – It’s a ‘Turner’ of the century cover from Boo Cook!

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 the turn of Boo Cook to adorn the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2188 with a The Order cover featuring ye olde Armoured Gideon in a classic naval battle pretty much right out of a Turner painting (and thanks to Boo, you’ll be getting plenty of Turner puns all through this one).

It looks like this…

You’ll have been thrilling to Boo’s most recent artistic delights with the psychedelic Dreddverse tale Blunt III in the Judge Dredd Megazine recently. But his credits for TMO stretch back some 20 years plus now, beginning with Prog 1208 in August 2000, on a Steve Moore penned Future Shock; Home from the War.

So, to get the skinny on the cover, it’s time to Turner this Covers Uncovered over to Boo Cook…

Portrait of the artist with his At-At on his Ed-Ed.
Photo courtesy of 2012 interview with Brighton Source.

.As this summer marks my twentieth year in the service of Tharg’s mighty organ, I was very pleased to be back on cover duties.

I think Tharg’s initial request for the cover was for the 18th-century version of Armoured Gideon to be firing on an old ship in a Turner-esque naval battle. It took me a few seconds to process that as it’s pretty far removed from what I usually get up to, but I do like getting thrown a curveball now and then.

The painter J.M.W. Turner had previously made quite an impression on me during an A-level art trip to London, so I knew roughly where the cover was heading. Other highlights of that trip included an aubergine fight (not pictured on the cover).

I had a good search for Turner naval battle paintings online and there were plenty to get my juices flowing. Apart from getting a decent angle on the robot, the main problem – I quickly realised – would be finding a balance between ‘full Turner’ and the artistic sensibilities of a modern comic cover. This basically meant making the seascape and ship a little more obvious and slightly less impressionistic so the cover still had a bit of visual clout while hopefully being recognisable as a Turner homage.

The initial colour rough Turnered in to Tharg for approval

So I knocked up that colour rough and sent it off to Tharg and aside from us both agreeing that Gideon needed to obscure a bit less logo it was good to go.

I usually have two approaches to my comic art these days – the traditional ink and photoshop colouring route or the more gritty and expressive heavily tonal pencil and photoshop route, so given the nature of this beast I went for the latter.

Boo Cook Turner-ing in those pencils

In this approach I mostly tend to fill the entire page with heavy graphite but as I knew the sky would be fully photoshop painted I figured it would be a waste of time to go tonal on the sky at the pencil stage and just made sure that rough compositional info was there.

After scanning the pencils in I got stuck straight into the sky – I do love painting a wild sky in photoshop. A good example of the changes I made compared to my usual style is the sun in the background – it’s heavily textured, way more than I would usually paint a sun. In fact, I wouldn’t put any texture on a sun usually but being a Turner tribute I splozzed the paint around a bit (although not to the level of full Turner).

(Yeah – splozzed – Boo tells us it’s a technical term!)

Yep – look at those Cook Turner-esque Sun textures!

Painting the sea was great fun, again not something I do often but I really enjoyed borrowing some deep tealy greens and translucent wave-tops from the Turner reference.

Once I’d nailed a look for Gideon having scanned various quite different versions of him into my brain I painted him up adding plenty of water splashes and explodey stuff in an attempt to arrive at some semblance of 18th century Pacific Rim style fayre.

Pacific Rimeon?

As a side note the lazerz were originally going to be orangey fire blasts but they conflicted with the sun too much. FACT.

Turnering from red laser to blue laser – same result –
Armoured Gideon wins at Battleships again.

As is often the case with my artwork, my favourite bit of the painting is completely insignificant and almost unnoticeable – in this case, the unlucky buccaneer draped over a plank of driftwood in the foreground…

The alternate ending to Titanic, where Leo kicked Rose off the door!

Anyway, that’s about the size of it apart from thinking up lots of cover tag lines while I worked such as “TIDE TURNER!” and “TURNER THE CENTURY!” all of which I am very happy to say Tharg did not use…

Thanks to Boo for chatting and showing us his workings out of the cover he eventually Turner-ed in (plus giving this one its title). 2000 AD Prog 2188 is available from comic shops, newsagents, and the 2000 AD web shop.

Now, Turner-ing to a quick bonus cover feature from the Cook Droid…

2000 AD Prog 1500 (2006) with Tharg resplendent…

2000 AD Prog 1532 (2007) with Dredd under the flag of Booth…

Another Joseph Turner inspired cover, this time The Red Seas for 2000 AD Prog 1699:

2000 AD Prog 1817 (2013) – a glorious Ezqueera homage…

2000 AD Prog 1830 (2013)- gloriously old-school going-ons for Gunheadz

2000 AD Prog 1999 (2006) – Move along cits…

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Mark Harrison takes us OUT with Prog 2187

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 the turn of Mark Harrison and 2000 AD Prog 2187, cover-featuring the fabulous looking new series he’s drawing, The Out, written by Dan Abnett. Obviously, these two gents have got form, having collaborated for a long time on the rather spectacularly good Grey Area.

The Out begins in Prog 2187, out now from comic shops, newsagents, and the 2000 AD web shop.

Abnett describes The Out thus…

The Out is a cosmic odyssey, really. The story of human beings (well, one in particular) wandering out in the far-flung reaches of space, encountering a galactic milieu of alien species. SF is chock full of stories about mankind reaching the stars and becoming an important, or THE important, species, but what if we’re just a minor footnote no one’s ever heard of? Little more than tourists on the greatest Grand Tour/gap year ever? The character, Cyd, has gone so far into “The Out” that she’s forgotten where Earth is and hasn’t seen another human for years. It’s a story about what happens when the ‘wonder’ of the endless holiday starts to pale. What does it mean (to her) to be human? Has humanity made any impact at all? It’s a bit quirky, character-driven, and very alien.

And thematically, he and Mark refer to it as… ‘A love letter to the SF book-jacket art we grew up with’.

To give you an idea just what they mean… here’s the first page of The Out for you all to marvel over…

So, with that imagery burning it’s way into your minds, over to the great Mark Harrison to talk us through the making of the cover…

After pitching Tharg a promotional image for The Out, a first cover to introduce the strip was asked for.

Dan and I felt the promo image was a bit too on the money and revelatory for a cover so something more like the slow burn story unfolding and low key would be more appropriate.

The main character Cyd is a sort of Intergalactic Geographic/space tourism photojournalist, documenting new worlds opened up to the human race. Something akin to the emerging tourism industry of the 1950’s when exotic destinations became accessible to the general public. Whilst part of The Out’s image brief was to be inspired by the science fiction book covers of the 1970’s I thought this image should also work as an advert, subliminally influenced by the travel posters of the 1930s onwards. This sort of thing…

An image of our bon viveur heroine Cyd calling out to join her at her table outside an alien café enjoying a local (and escaping) delicacy. The scene should be bright, breezy, pastel-coloured, with simplified background elements, a beach scene, a building/night club and form of transport (in this case a Chris Foss inspired starship).  

Quite a bit of time and effort was put into moving these elements around to get a pleasing composition. Cyd’s pose also pays homage to Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

As for putting it all together… here’s Mark with the details…

I pretty much steamed ahead with this. I threw together some elements, silhouettes and moved them around until I got something pleasing for the background. 

I’ve been recently experimenting with custom shapes in PhotoShop, a technique used by some concept artists. A shape could be any defined image; in this instance a tyre image used to create a circular sci-fi jetty.

The seated foreground figure was redrawn a few times at the digital pencilling stage; the positioning of the legs was a problem. 

I decided to swap the character around and have the legs facing away from rather than under the table, the figure placement used to balance what would have been a centre-weighted composition.  

The inks included existing art of a spaceship that was also used to balance the image.

Flat colouring was added and edge lighting and a layer of lights derived from other files to add detail. which also informed the image such as reflections.   

Finally a pass of tone and tweaking the image, brightening the scene behind the character to add focus.

A late addition was to add an oval frame to the scene to mirror the starship and have the art break the frame for extra emphasis. It also adds to the poster feel and graphical conventions. 

And that’s it!

Of course, when Harrison says ‘And that’s it!’, what I and all other non-artists say is, bloody hell, that’s a fabulous amount of work going into this cover. Thank you so much to Mark for getting that to us and sharing it with you all.

The Out begins in Prog 2187, out now from comic shops, newsagents, and the 2000 AD web shop. It’s looking like it’s going to be a great series.

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Jock Returns For The 2020 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special!

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 year, the 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special marks 20 years since the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic joined games developer Rebellion, with a massive 100-page celebration of the last two decades! Inside, you’ll find brand new stories with classic Rebellion-era archive strips – with some special guests cropping up to really make this a true 2000 AD birthday celebration!

And all this under a stunning cover from a 2000 AD legend – Jock! So it’s time to settle down with one of the Rebellion era’s greatest artists and get him to tell us all about the making of a cover worthy of the celebrations!

You can find the 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special from all good newsagents and comic book stores on Wednesday 24th June! Or simply pre-order from the 2000 AD web shop using the link below!

PRE-ORDER NOW >>

I always try and fit in doing something for 2000AD if I can, and when Matt asked if I’d like to do the cover for this years Summer Special, I was happy to take it on. 

It also turned out that it would be a ‘bookend’ homage to a Dredd piece I had drawn 20 years ago, marking the anniversary of Rebellion taking over the Galaxies Greatest Comic. 

The original 2000 AD Dreddcon – an image so damn good it’s worth doing again!

Matt asked for a shot of Dredd looming over Oxford this time, rather than the London of the first Dreddcon image.

A fairly simple brief, with not too much wiggle room, so I comped together some shots of Oxford for the foreground and drew a quick sketch of Dredd.

Jock’s original sketch – A Dredd so scary even the buses crash!

I liked the pose, as did Matt, so once approved I blew up the sketch to full size and traced it off to keep the nuances of the way Dredd looked in the final piece.

Worked some more details into the figure and inked it over a couple of days while working on other projects. The final piece is quite large, on 16’ x 20’ art board.I reduced the size of his head slightly in Photoshop before sending the final file, so Dredd would feel as monolithic as possible – Dredd always looks best looking larger than life.

And that makes Dredd larger than life… A Backstreet Boys lyric? Really?

Chris Blythe was the colourist on the original Dreddcon piece and we were lucky to get him for this image too. Matt asked for a daytime scene to contrast the night of the original image, so we get the very apt bright blue skies of Oxford for the Summer Special.

The sun is out, the sky is blue
There’s not a cloud to spoil the view
Except Judge Dredd, telling you stay home.
(Buddy Holly’s first draft, unseen before now)

And that’s it – the making of an iconic cover, featuring an iconic character, by an iconic artist. Thanks to Jock once more for taking part. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see more of his art adorning the covers or pages of 2000 AD or Judge Dredd Megazine.

You can find the 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special from all good newsagents and comic book stores on Wednesday 24th June! Or simply pre-order from the 2000 AD web shop using the link below.

PRE-ORDER NOW >>

Now, a little more Jock from the archives…

First off, the cover from the 2012 Free Comic Book Day comic from 2000 AD, as featured by my esteemed colleague, Mr Pete Wells, legend around these parts, on Covers Uncovered from 2011.

One of Jock’s classic Dredds – Prog 1304 (14th August 2002)
Judge Dredd by Jock and Chris Blythe for Prog 1318 (20th November, 2002)
Jock’s wrapround cover to Prog 1450 (3rd August 2005)
Classic Megazine cover by Jock – Megazine 4.02 (September 2001)
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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Patrick Goddard talks Prog 2185

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’s cover comes from the team of Patrick Goddard and colourist Dylan Teague. With Prog 2185, Patrick’s given us a look into the showdown between Dredd and that mystery cowboy (shhh… spoilers if you haven’t caught up yet!) currently featuring in the End Of Days epic unfolding from Rob Williams and Colin MacNeil. You can find Prog 2185 in the 2000 AD web shop and comic shops from 10 June.

Over to Patrick to tell us about putting together the cover… first the ideas after a commission from Tharg…

I had just finished Aquila and Matt offered me a cover to tide me over until my next scripts so it was great to draw Dredd again!

Initially, I thought there was going to be Mega-City 1 in the background but it wasn’t needed in the end so went with the simple face-off, and with a profile like Dredd’s, how can you not want to draw that?!!

First things first, cover design in blue roughs…

Are you dancing? Are you asking?

Next up, those wonderfully tight Goddard pencils…

With any large figure work I do, I tend to draw small and then enlarge it on my scanner, it helps me, for the most part, get the scale right.

It was a very quick cover to do, nothing too tricky to draw and probably had it all done in a day.

When the Law meets the Outlaw, we all know who’s going to come out the winner.
This town ‘aint big enough for the both of us!

Then I just hand it over to the colour maestro that is Dylan Teague and he works his magic, all done!

And here’s the magic added by Dylan Teague!

Thanks to Patrick for letting us inside the making of his latest 2000 AD cover. Follow him on Twitter and pick up Prog 2185 from the shelves or in the 2000 AD web store!

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Steven Austin on Dredd for Prog 2184

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 and the Judge Dredd Megazine!

2000 AD Prog 2184 is out on 3 June, featuring a cover from Steven Austin. He first worked for 2000 AD with Prog 1982, providing the art for a Tharg’s Time Twister – The Timeless Assassin, as written by Rory McConville. Since then, he’s done a couple of Tharg 3Rillers, The House Of Gilded Peak, written by Eddie Robson, and Keeper of Secrets, written by Robert Wilson, and a Black Museum Tale from David Baillie.

Here’s the tale of how this iconic Dredd cover for the Prog came about…

So this cover was a pitch to Tharg. Inspiration comes from the most random of places and the inspiration for this came from a link to a band sent to me by a friend, the band is named Burning Flag, I think I’d probably just been watching some news article on YouTube about the US and Donald Trump and somewhere in that mix the idea for this cover image came to fruition.

(Prelim sketch by Austin – doodles don’t get much looser)

I began as always with some very loose doodles, I had an idea that I wanted Dredd in front of a burning US flag but wasn’t sure of composition etc. so went about doodling some options, initially, I envisaged a flag behind Dredd, waving in an apocalyptic wind whilst burning, however, as I went along I started to draw the flag framing Dredd and this stuck.

Once I’d decided upon the design I was going with I went my usual route and drew an A5 rough which I then scanned into PS.

(A5 rough – Judge versus flag – flag always gonna lose)

I then blew this up to A3, printed it off and light boxed the rough onto A3 bristol board. Next, it was a case of tightening everything up and making any small changes I decide upon.

(Final pencils – Just once, just the once, you’d love to see him smile)

Once happy with the final pencils, I begin inking using sizes 2 and 3 series 7 sable brushes with some scribbling at the end with various pens, just to give it a little more edge.

(Final inks – Dredd’s idea of a Superbowl anthem was never going to go down well )

On completing the inks I became concerned that perhaps the colourist wouldn’t realise that the flag should be burning so decided to produce a coloured rough, I printed out the inks, painted over them very quickly in Acrylic and then rescanned it in placing the original inks over the top in Photoshop.

(Colour rough – seriously, if Trump gets annoyed at NFL players kneeling – he’d lose his mind over Dredd’s flag attitude. )

Next, I then decided to go a step further and play around with some digital colours before sending it off to Tharg.

(Colour Rough 2 – The flag never stood a chance. Dredd’s law wins every time)

I think the final colours are a very happy medium as to the image and mood I originally envisaged and Quinton Winters’ own excellent interpretation.

As always, thanks to Steven for sharing the making of the cover! Grab 2000 AD Prog 2184 at a newsagent or comic shop near you or from the 2000 AD web store from 3 June.

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – PJ Holden Talks Megazine 420

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!

PJ Holden grabs his second cover of the year with Megazine 420, following the beautiful cover for 2000 AD Prog 2178 (see the Covers Uncovered for that one here).

You can get hold of the latest Megazine, issue 420, from the 2000 AD web shop and comic shops from 20 May.

The cover feature comes from the third and final part of the PJ Holden drawn Dredd tale, Bad Sector, written by Arthur Wyatt. And the Holden Droid was good enough to send over his process images for that Meg cover, along with his usual bizarre conversations with Tharg The Mighty… Over to PJ for the details…

I’ve decided I’d like to do more 2000 covers this year. Never sure the right way to approach Tharg about this, but I figure if I’m doing a strip I should at least ask if I can do a cover. So I did –

“Can I do a cover please???”
“OK! BUT ONLY FOR THE FINAL PART. I THARG HAVE SPOKEN”
(he always talks in the third person. Weirdo)

So I knew what was happening in the strip, and, technically, this cover is a bit of a cheat – Dredd doesn’t quite arrive with the tank – but the cover is doing a different job – it’s supposed to convey an emotion and sell you on the strip. So I sent Tharg some cover ideas: As you can see I think I was going for Dredd super imposed over some action.

The eight doodles of the Holden droid

Tharg responded:
“I THARG, IN MY INFINITE THARGY WISOM, DECREE ‘A’ TO BE THE GREATEST ART IN THE ENTIRE WESTERN HEMISPHERE. FINISH IT! FINISH IT! I HAVE SPOKEN”

Again, he’s kind of weird, but when Tharg says jump you don’t say anything, you sort of hide under the table and hope he didn’t notice you in case he makes you jump then sets MekQuake on you for not jumping high enough.

Pencils were fairly quick. I love drawing Dredd he flows out of my pencil as naturally as a phone doodle. Though I will admit, I’ve been wrestling with that arm pose since I pencilled it.

They bring a gun – Dredd brings a tank.

Inks next! Again pretty quick.

Dredd breaks up another lockdown party… the hard way.

And finally, flats and colours – the flats help me select areas of the image to apply proper colour too, so they’re only here out of interest…

Stay home citizens, state authorised exercise only – or Dredd will come knocking.

And with final colours, that’s it!

No Creeps, a cheeky BBQ in the park is not ok.
Stay home, exercise once a day, essential trips only – or Dredd will come knocking.

Hope you like it! (BTW if you’re keeping count, I drew this cover BEFORE the Chimpsky cover, but I did both in the space of a month, I think… and they’re covers number 7 & 8 for me… hopefully I’ll be asked to do more!) – PJ.

Thanks, as always, to the Holden droid for letting us inside the process of putting together his latest. Hopefully, if he keeps bowing correctly before Tharg, we’ll see him on many more covers to come!

You can get hold of Judge Dredd: Megazine issue 420 in print and digital from the 2000 AD web shop, and from whatever newsagents and comic shops are open in this trying times. If you can, make sure you get in touch with your local comic shop and support them however you can – they really need your help right now. See if they do mail order or kerbside pick-up for all your comic needs – now really is the time to pick up all those 2000 AD books you’ve been meaning to get your hands on!

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Stand By The Man – Jake Lynch Talks Prog 2181

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 and the Judge Dredd Megazine!

2000 AD Prog 2181 is out on 13 May and marks the return of artist Jake Lynch with another stand-out iconic cover featuring Judge Dredd … standing. But, as always, Lynch makes standing such a thing!

Lynch has done a fair few of these Covers Uncovered pieces, but looking back, the Lynch-droid always manages to fall foul of TMO somehow. And this time turns out to be no different. But before then, everything started out, as Lynch tells us with a doodle…

The cover came about as a doodle I submitted to Tharg.

(Dredd’s always been terrible at posing for the Justice Department annual photoshoot)

After the usual anger and Rigellian Hotshot (I had emailed during His Mightinesses cup break) it was agreed and I refined the pic and tone a little more.

(Hey Joe – feel free to crack a smile for the camera?)

That done, it was time to shift it into colour. I wish it was as simple as just ‘washing’ colour over the toned artwork (though that is the starting point) – it’s a little more long-winded and often feels like reworking the whole pic over again, hardening it out. It’s also the point where I decide on any new elements such as the rim-light colours and their strength.

(Yep, gotta love those rim-light colours – add your own Pete-Wells-ian gag here kids)

That sorted I start wondering if there’s any more interest I can add and submit an idea to Tharg (he’s angry ALL the time you know)

(Lynch Droid sends in more ideas – Lynch Droid should know better by now)

I am reminded to know my place and stick to the original idea (all hail Tharg). So I set it up for print and access the comics’ server to upload it where I accidentally delete 2000AD – sorry…

(The finished product – smile for the Lawgiver)

Thanks to Jake and leave him screaming deep down in the bowels of the Thrill-Centre begging forgiveness for the accidental deletion of the Thrill Power archives!

Remember kids, always take back-ups, just like Tharg does!

2000 AD Prog 2181 is out in digital and print on 13 May.

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Simon Coleby Brings The Vigilant To Judge Dredd Megazine #421

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!

Available to buy now from the 2000 AD web shop and whichever stores are open, Simon Coleby brings us the third part of The Vigilant saga on the cover and inside the pages of Judge Dredd Megazine 421

Yes, the stunning saga of Rebellion’s super-team of classic British comic book characters, The Vigilant, comes to a reality-shattering conclusion in the pages of the Judge Dredd Megazine #421 with a special 22-page finale. And of course, it’s all under a suitably stunning cover to really mark the end of a stunning series.

Simon was good enough to send over his process images that went to make up that cover. We’re incredibly grateful to Simon for getting this over to us as he’s had what could best be described as a rather busy couple of months, both before and in lockdown. It’s a tale of computer breakdowns, beating a new computer until it did what he wanted, and then a surprise lockdown house move – it’s definitely been a busy, busy time for him! Thankfully, all has settled down a little now and we look forward to seeing whatever is next from one of 2000 AD’s finest artists!

Now, here’s the making of that great Vigilant cover… over to Simon…

And so; the cover for the final chapter in The Vigilant’s tale.

The previous two covers showed the team in heroic, dominant poses. This one had to suggest a moment of peril. Perhaps of defeat. It needed to suggest the questions appropriate to a cliffhanger ending. Will they survive? Will they return? Will the Leopard from Lime Street go back to wearing that leopard-print onesie?

The design of the piece was fairly straightforward – a three-tier composition with the mauled team in the foreground, the looming figure of the demon Mazoul in the midground, dominating the image, and the haunted manor house in the background to provide depth and a sense of scale. And also because who doesn’t love drawing gothic, dark, spooky architecture?

To add to the sense of disorder, I decided to go for a tilted angle – in cinema, known as ‘Dutching’. It’s a technique I find very useful to add interest to my panel compositions. The practise originated in German expressionist film-making, largely being used to convey alienation, madness, disorder and all that kind of fun stuff. For some reason, it seems to work well in my art. Make of that what you will.

Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton both use it to great effect in their movies. You can also see it overused to hilariously awful effect in the Scientology disasterpiece ‘Battlefield Earth.

The idea for the drawing was fairly strong and straightforward from the outset, so I didn’t need to do a huge amount of preliminary work. I did a few rough sketchbook thumbnails, just to sort out the balance of the elements, then I put together a marker rough on A4 paper, which I submitted to Keith in the Nerve Centre for approval.

As usual, I drew the pencils for the finished page on A3 typing paper, starting with a rough blue-pencil drawing, and then refining it with fine-liner marker pens.

I scanned the finished pencil work, then printed it in cyan on A3 Bristol board for inking.

The piece was inked using Rotring Art-Pens, Japanese calligraphy markers, Chinagraph pencils and splatters of ink applied from an old bit of kitchen sponge and flicked from a toothbrush.

After all the mucky stuff with ink, I scanned the image back into Photoshop for a final bit of digital polish.

Len’s colours are superb, as always – a restrained yet strong palette. Warm colours emphasise the foreground, with cooler colours around the haunted manor. The flame colours add drama and impact and also help to ‘pop’ the figure of the demon.

So, that’s that one. We bid farewell to this heroic team. I can only hope that the trivial matter of a global pandemic won’t stop this story finding its way into readers’ hands.

Thank you so much to Simon Coleby for sending the art along.

Now, as a bonus to all you lovely readers – another great bit of Coleby Vigilant artwork – something he put up first on his Facebook… – it’s also a little insight into just what a damn trooper Simon was in getting The Vigilant finished and for taking the time to get the images over to us – he’s had a busy, busy time in lockdown!

A couple of days ago I finished the third ‘Vigilant’ story. That was an ‘interesting’ one — a challenging script, then a dead computer. A new computer which turned out not to be up to scratch, so then another machine and all the fun of sorting out compatible software. Then just for extra chuckles, here comes a global pandemic — having to pack up my studio and unexpectedly move house, mid-job. Never a dull moment, eh? Anyway, with my brilliant collaborators, the job was put to bed with a week to spare — all good and everyone’s happy.

So, for a change and just to chill out I thought I’d do some drawing today. A spec thing I’ve been playing with. Not sure if it’ll get used or how, but I’ve been enjoying bunging it together.

I do love calligraphy when I get a chance to incorporate it in my stuff, so this one has some of John Dee’s occult Latin text, rendered in a lovely Arabic style font. Because why not? Anyway, just a thing that I’ve been playing with, not for any particular reason.

He’s also sent along the skull reference piece…

And then, a few days later

I’ve been doing proper work today, but also pretty-much finished mucking about with this spec thing. Just going to bung some colours at it, then call it done.

And finally

So — that piece I was working on for fun a couple of weeks ago. I bunged some colour on it and Tharg’s in-house graphic droids logoed it up.

Yep, like it says – Vigilant – Rapture ends the saga (for now) in Judge Dredd Megazine Issue 421 – out now – get it from the 2000 AD web shop!