Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Nick Roche’s robo-smashing, Cadet Dredd-bashing Regened 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 have the wonderfully talented Nick Roche talking us through his action-packed cover to the new 2000 AD REGENED Prog 2220 – OUT NOW!!!

It looks a lot like this…

2000 AD REGENED Prog 2220 – cover by Nick Roche, colours by Gary Caldwell

Inside 2000 AD REGENED Prog 2220, you’re going to find five exciting new strips – a brand new Cadet Dredd: Suboptimal by Arthur Wyatt and Davide Tinto, Future Shocks: Geeno Firenzo by Karl Stock, Silvia Califano and three completely new strips, Action Pact: The Radyar Recovery by Mike Carroll and Luke Horsman, Viva Forever: 9 Amazing Tips by David Baillie and Anna Morozova, and Mayflies: Precious Cargo by Mike Carroll and Simon Coleby.

It’s a real Scrotnig Regened to kick off 2021’s all-ages 2000 AD selections, with a great looking cover by Nick sure to attract all those tiny Earthlets to the Zarjaz thrills of 2000 AD for years to come!

So, take it away Nick…

NICK ROCHE: I was first made aware of Tharg’s presence by an uncontrollable twitch behind my left eye. My initial thought was “That toxic paint I licked off that bootleg Transformer in 1989 has finally kicked in.” But soon I realised he was making contact telepathically. He had need of me. And who was I to refuse? (Nick Roche, Writer/Artist on Scarenthood, Transformers, and Death’s Head, that’s who!)

I had the honour of being in The Mighty One’s ‘Regened Pool’; a cadre of “talent” called upon to ensnare younger Earthlets into the realm of inescapable Thrill Power. And so Tharg was gifting me the chance to craft the cover for 2021’s first all-ages prog. A Regened Cover meant two things: Dredd, and LOTS of blank space. I was in.

The brief was thus: ” I was thinking of something like: Dredd leaping out of the way as a giant robot smashes down its fist – or along those lines.”

Getting to draw a robot AND Judge Dredd for a 2000AD cover? I would have paid for the opportunity. Unfortunately, Tharg detected my stray thought, and took me at my word. And as such, I now owe him a large amount in some obscure ultraterrestrial cryptocurrency I’ve never heard of.

Nick Roche’s first – and only – draft layout for the cover to Prog 2220

Here’s my first – and only – draft at a layout for the cover. I had asked if the cover required the uniform white background that worked so well on previous Regened covers, and Tharg had said it wasn’t essential. I thought it was a great unified bit of branding across the All-Ages issues though, so I thought I’d sell him on the idea: I’d keep the cover free of ALL background elements, and have the impact of the giant mech’s crash fists create the only definition and colour on the image, apart from the figures themselves.

I stayed close to the palette of the earlier covers, with strong vibrant colours smashing out of the crack in the ‘ground’, and intense flashlines. They’re the sort of colours and elements you don’t often see on a 2000AD cover, so I thought they’d stand out and serve their purpose by saying ‘This prog’s a little different, lads’, with Dredd and the big bot anchoring readers in more familiar territory.

This is the only prelim sketch I did for the robot too; I got a sense of what sort of imposing shape was needed right there on the page, and what proportions it would need to dominate the space on the cover, and overwhelm Dredd too.

I emailed it off to Tharg, but he reminded me that he still had control of my every waking thought and he’d seen the image before it had even entered my own cerebral cortex. I didn’t ask why he hadn’t said that earlier and saved me the bother of the sketch. It turns out, The Mighty One was “well-chuffed” with this initial layout, and I could go ahead to finish the image. This rarely happens in comics, and I was almost masochistically waiting for the multiple mental hoops Tharg would force me to hurl myself through to earn his pleasure – I’d heard so much about it all! Maybe next time, eh?

Nick Roche’s very tight pencil stage

So using the layouts, I basically went into “add detail” mode. Most of the brainwork had been done by figuring out where all the elements should be in that rough sketch. I remember focusing on Dredd first, making sure his pose remained strong and all his bits and bobs were in the right place. I saved the robot as a sort of visual ‘dessert’; the mech didn’t have to look like anything in particular, it wasn’t tied to a specific design that was to featured within, I could have fun and lose myself in its design. One of the treats in creating a one-off visual for a cover like this, is that no matter how much detail you add, you don’t need to fret about it being replicated panel-after-panel within an actual strip.

I’d made a name for myself drawing robots over the years — I’m mostly known for my Transformers work, so I know my way around hinged knuckles and extraneous panelling detail. One of my strengths honed on drawing those guys is to make the robots as readable and characterful as possible, and that was one of my aims with this guy. But I also felt duty-bound to stick to a 2000AD aesthetic with this mech.

There’s no such thing as ‘Too Subtle’ for any of the Prog-born bots, so i leaned into his dumb face and OTT chompy teeth. I think I struck the balance between giving him enough detail to make younger readers lose themselves in, and enough appealing body shapes to reassure their older guardians who will be tasked with shelling out for the comic on their behalf.

The raw inks to the characters and effects

I tend to work traditionally- on physical paper with pencils and pens – so this is a scan of my inked line-art. I drew my pencils on cheap cartridge paper, scan them into photoshop, convert the pencil lines to blue, and then print those out onto better quality Bristol Board for inking. I ink straight onto the blue-line print out, and when I scan the finished piece, I have photoshop tuned up to eliminate any of the unwanted blue marks, leaving only the pure black and white you see here. That way, I don’t have to take time to erase any of the pencil marks if I’d inked straight onto them. That’s always a time-suck, especially as you often have to go back and re-ink elements as the eraser has removed some of the ink’s intensity.

I use lots of vinyl-tipped Japanese ‘disposable brush pens’; the tips are flexible enough that be leaning into them or easing off on them, you can create different thickness of lines, while still maintaining good control. I like using these on robots and mechs, because it gives them a lively feeling, without relying on rigid lines, and that adds a little more character to them. I use fineliners for the fiddly bits, and Pentel pocket brush pens when I want a nice tapered brush stroke here and there.

The impact/flash-lines from the finished piece would normally be added to the page traditionally, but I waited until the next stage to drop those in…

Those finished inks with flashlines, flashlines, and more flashlines!

To aid the colourist (the amazing Gary Caldwell, but I didn’t know who was on duty at this stage), I dropped in the flashlines on a different layer and in a lighter tone using Manga Studio (recent versions are called ClipStudio, and it’s a great piece of kit that’s really intuitive for creating comics digitally). This would (hopefully?) make it easier for Gary to separately select them when colouring, instead of having to fiddle with the line art and extract them manually. (Also, there’s a handy tool on Manga Studio to draw lines that radiate from a specific point and move things along quicker for any Betelguesian publishing moguls.)

All that remained was for me to email it to a company called Rebellion, and a soothing sense of a job adequately abandoned that remained in my soul after Tharg severed his mindlink with me. A while later, I’d be treated to a look at Gary’s smashing colours and I join the rest of the earthlets in waiting for the latest Regened issue to pass through my letterbox. Though why all these people are in my hallway watching my front door is a mystery, and not something that was discussed with me by Tharg.

The [smashing] finished cover with colours from Gary Caldwell

Mind-link severed, Nick still has a nagging pain in his temple, far too many people in his hallway, and a very large bill in Betelgeusian crypto-funds to pay thanks to enjoying his job far too much. But fear not, Tharg is a (relatively) benevolent dictator.

So, as we leave him with Tharg’s minions knocking at the door to arrange transport to the Art Droid cells accommodation cubes and will let Nick work off his debt, let’s give our thanks to Nick for sending over those images and we’ll be looking forward to seeing his next art for 2000 AD Regened soon!

For more from Nick, you can find him on Twitter, and be sure to check out the interview he did with writer Cavan Scott about their Rogue Trooper Regened strip that ran in 2000 AD Progs 2130 and 2170… looking like this…

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – John Higgins gives us the finale of Dreadnoughts

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 talk to John Higgins about his stunning cover to the Judge Dredd Megazine issue 429, available from 17 February with the sixth and final part of Dreadnoughts: Breaking Ground – brought to you by the creative team of Michael Carroll, John Higgins, Sally Hurst and Simon Bowland.

JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE 429 is OUT NOW!

.

Have no fear though – although it’s the finale of Breaking Ground, the series will return with a second series, The March of Progress. Mike Carroll has already turned in his script and John Higgins will be getting cracking on the art once he finishes the art for a new John Wagner-penned Judge Dredd six-parter meant for June 2021, Now That’s What I Call Justice.

So, now it’s time to luxuriate in the brilliance of John Higgins’ latest cover art…

JOHN HIGGINS: Matt Smith asked me to do a series cover rather than an episode-specific cover for the final episode of Dreadnoughts. The setting is Judge Glover standing in front of the traditional law enforcers who she and her fellow Judges are starting to replace, I felt it gave an allegorical spin to the scene and also established her as a fearless individual who leads from the front and represents the best that you can hope for in what will be a new world order.

Matt approved the very first black and white rough I did so I felt confident with the composition and focus of the image.

I painted it traditionally, using Gouache and magicolor inks on washboard, I knew Glover and the cops were going to be backlit by the flames of a city-wide riot, so to achieve a flame effect I tipped yellow, magenta and delta violet transparent inks on to a wet board and let them blend in a fractal way, one can be pleasantly surprised with how the colours intermix and form interesting shapes with little guidance.

I used gouache paint on Glover and the rioters lying in the foreground, gouache is a great paint to give a solidity to objects set against the transparent inks of the background, it really threw her forward.

I then scanned it in and finished digitally with background details, such as highlights on the riot police helmets and shields, and colour balanced the background colours, I was happy with Glover and the foreground so did little digital adjusting on that part of the painting.

Now that, I think we can all agree is a suitably stunning cover to mark the end of what has been perhaps the debut of the year. Dreadnoughts has been a story that’s firmly established itself as a favourite with fans, revealing just what it was like on the ground as the world that would become Dredd’s world changed forever, a shifting world where the rule of law is changing to the rule of the Judges.

Thank you to John for taking the time to share the work behind that great cover.

You can find Megazine issue 429 on the shelves and in the 2000 AD web shop right now!

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered: Everybody’s Gone Surfin’, Surfin’ MC-1…

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, on the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2219 we have Patrick Goddard and colourist Dylan Teague giving us a wraparound skysurfing spectacular from their Judge Dredd strip, Against The Clock.

2000 AD Prog 2219 – cover art by Patrick Goddard, colours by Dylan Teague

Patrick Goddard’s been a mainstay of both 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine since he made his double debut in November 2000 on both 2000 AD and the Megazine.

His first published work came with the John Wagner written Judge Dredd: Jimping two-parter in Megazine 3.71-3.72, quickly followed later in the same month with Sinister Dexter: Lucky in 2000 AD Prog 1220.

His crisp and super clean artwork has featured on plenty of strips since then, including Mean Machine, Young Middenface, Chopper, Savage, Sinister Dexter, Anderson, Grey Area, Armitage, Wardog, and of course Judge Dredd. Most recently, he’s been the go-to artist on Ales Kot’s recent work on the Vampire dandy extraordinaire, Devlin Waugh in the Megazine and given us more Aquila in the pages of 2000 AD where he’s most recently taken the returned from the dead gladiator down into hell in The Burning Fields.

All of which brings us up to date with 2000 AD Prog 2219, out on 17 February, with Goddard’s stunning skysurfer cover art as well as contributing the interiors for Judge Dredd: Against The Clock, where he’s twisting and turning through the skies of MC-1 for the tale of a skysurfing delivery worker.

Now, over to Patrick to tell us all about putting together this super-soaraway skysurfing cover…

PATRICK GODDARD: I drew six rough thumbnails for Matt to choose from, it was a pretty straightforward brief of having a double page wraparound cover of the skysurfer flying over an imposing Mega City 1.

SIx roughs, practically storyboards in their own right!

We went with option 2 but having her showing the baby on her back ( I was trying to hide it for the reveal in the strip).

I think I drew the city at A4 and then enlarged it to trace over using a lightbox.

MC-1 at its finest, courtesy of Patrick Goddard

I drew Mona (skysurfer) separately so I could play around with her placement over MC1, I tried a few different poses and chose the most dynamic one. 

Once it was finalised, I just had the task of drawing it! I think my eyes may have suffered a bit mind!

Now that’s putting your all into a cover!
Close-up on the inks of the cover

I knew Dylan was colouring it and he asked for any colour suggestions for Mona, so I sent some colour ideas and he worked his magic and we got the final cover, simple really.

It was nice to be asked to do a cover for a strip that I’d drawn, so you already had all the ref and a feel for the character.

Thank you so much to Patrick for taking the time here to share that absolutely gorgeous wrapround cover with us. Make sure to pick up 2000 AD Prog 2219 from the 2000 AD web shop from 17 February where you have not just the pleasure of staring in awe at that cover but also get to see Patrick and colourist Dylan Teague drawing the Judge Dredd strip inside.

As an added extra, Patrick also sent along his initial character studies of his skysurfing heroine…

For more great cover breakdowns from Patrick, be sure to check out these Covers Uncovered for Prog 2021, Prog 2185, and Prog 2205.

And you can also see and hear Patrick on the 2000 AD Thrill-Cast Lockdown Tapes where he’s talking Aquila: The Burning Fields

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Simon Fraser does the dirty on Frank

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 talk to the insanely talented art droid Simon Fraser, whose gorgeously muted palette of colours and striking linework is making the second series of HersheyThe Brutal – look simply stunning!

On the cover of 2000 AD Prog 2218, Fraser takes brutal to a whole new level, giving us a beaten and bloodied Dirty Frank (and canine companion)…

You can find 2000 AD Prog 2218 out on 10 February in all good newsagents and comic shops and from the 2000 AD web shop. Inside, you’ll be able to thrill to the penultimate episode of Hershey: The Brutal, written by Rob Williams, art by Simon, showing us just how bad an idea it is to get on the wrong side of the former Chief Judge.

Now, over to Simon to see just how he went about doing the dirty on poor old Frank…

SIMON FRASER: So this cover was almost comically straightforward. There’s barely a story here but I’ll stretch it out as far as I can.

Matt asked me for a cover of Frank, ” a battered looking Frank with his bare fists up, about to fight El Demonio. Can just focus on Frank, though, looking like he’s been through the mill.”

So I drew this...

It’s a reasonably polished pencil ( for me ) not a rough layout because I really don’t think there’s a lot to quibble with here and I’m under a bit of deadline pressure to finish the last two parts. If I can cut out a stage then that’s a win!

So I chuck some colour on it from the limited palette I’ve been using for the story itself. Like so…

As for my Palette for Hershey:The Brutal – it’s comically small!

All the colours of Hershey!

I basically just downloaded a couple of picture postcards of Brazil and Colombia and sampled some of the colours into a photoshop palette. I stuck to this palette for 94.7% of the time.

Occasionally I used a different tonal value of one of the palette colours. The thing about keeping things so disciplined is that when you eventually do break the rules, it’s quite shocking. For example, there’s no vivid red in the whole story (all that blood you see is purple) so when I push that right at the end, it adds an extra kick to the storytelling.

Matt gives me the ‘GO’ to do the final art based on my rough. I inked in ClipStudio, Blue-lining the pencil rough and working on it using a Pen called ‘Frenden Feathering’ which I’ve grown to love. It’s very squishy and a bit square so I can get a slightly erratic line out of it if I want, but at the same time, it does beautiful delicate feathering if required to.

The other pen I use a lot is a fineliner with a very small amount of flexibility and Stabilization turned up to 100%. I call it ‘Architecture’ and I draw buildings and machines with it. The line has some feel to it (like a fineliner pen), but stabilization keeps my hand steady enough that I don’t need to use rulers very much at all. I try and use rulers as little as possible as they can make things too rigid and tense. Anyway, I digress.

I coloured it up in my trusty old copy of Photoshop CS5. I added a bit of lens flare (don’t hate me!) and that was that, Hershey’s favourite punching bag in all his gory (not a misspelling).

And that’s it – another thrill-powered 2000 AD cover in the bag! Once more, thanks so much to Simon for sending these over to us.

That beautifully brutal Dirty Frank cover is on the front of 2000 AD Prog 2218 – and you can pick that up from the 2000 AD web shop from 10 February.

And if you’re looking for more from Simon and Hershey, check out the Covers Uncovered piece he wrote for us about the surprise return of Hershey in Disease with 2000 AD Prog 2176.

And of course, the collected Hershey: Disease comes out on 17 August 2021. You can find details of that, along with all of 2000 AD’s collections for the year here.

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered: Dan Cornwell shows us Dredd’s big … nightstick

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, with 2000 AD Prog 2217, it’s a very special occasion for Dan Cornwell, whose artwork we’ve been seeing on various Judge Dredd strips since his debut in 2017 on the John Wagner written War Buds in 2000 AD Prog 2045.

He’s been drawing Dredd inside the Galaxy’s Greatest for three years plus now, but up until this week he’d not had the thrill of getting on the cover. That changes right here, right now, with this rather stunning Judge Dredd on the cover of Prog 2217, out 3 February…

Dan’s also the Dredd artist inside the Prog this week on the rather revealing done-in-one Dredd, Naked City, written by Ken Niemand.

Ever wondered what you’d see if you had some kind of psychic x-ray vision in Mega-City One? Well, Moe Hallam, mall security cop, doesn’t have to wonder… but she does have to make sure she averts her eyes…

All that and much more in the latest Prog (and if you ever wanted the thrill of seeing a naked Dredd, this is the Prog for you!), but right now we’ll hand over to Dan Cornwell to tell you all about putting together this debut cover… and it was all a complete accident!

DAN CORNWELL: There was no remit from Matt for this cover, in fact he never even asked for a cover. This all happened by pure chance.

Long story short, I was having difficulties with the paper stock I would normally use – 280gsm Bristol board, so decided to try other types. The problem was, in the heat of the summer the inks weren’t soaking into the paper quickly enough and I found myself waiting for 5 minutes after inking a section of the image before I could continue, and even then in some cases the ink was still wet. I decided to try Windsor & Newton 220gsm smooth surface heavy stock cartridge paper. This worked – I still use it now.

I thought I should do a quick sketch and ink it to see the results. I penciled out my ‘go-to’ character, Judge Dredd. Took about half an hour.

Once he was sketched I thought it was quite a good pose, so added a little more detail.

I decided that this could be quite a cool picture so I started to play with the idea of adding a background. This is when I had issues. What to add? His badge? His Lawmaster? Mega City One? All been done before. Anyway I chose the latter. But I wanted it to be different. A bizarre angle that was not as the same perspective as the foreground character. 

Making things difficult for myself I chose a 5 point perspective cityscape. When I was happy with the result I inked the whole thing. This was the purpose of the task after all. Thankfully I went well.

Next up, time to scan and clean up the image

I then had to figure out the colour palette for this image. As I was drawing it, in the back of my mind I was seeing an 80’s synthwave, Bladerunner colour vibe. That’s how I see MC1 in my mind’s eye.

First job – and as all colourists will tell you, the most boring and tedious part, laying out the flats – blues and pinks...

Once the city and Dredd were flatted on separate layers (easier to select specific areas to work on) I then added tones to the city itself. I was working on the basis that the light will emanate from deep within the city and the tops of the buildings will be relatively dark. This in turn will make Dredd pop...

Then I worked on the light and shadows on Dredd and the city. Trying to find the right balance. Looking at the colour layers without inks, or looking at the whole image with a black and white filter which allows you to see the tones of the picture and where you can adjust the image...

Once I was happy with the overall composition and feel of the piece I added the final details here and there, adjusted the colour balance and levels. Then I flattened the picture. I made two versions, one slightly darker than the other. Printing can darken images.

I sent both to Matt to see if he would be able to find any use for it.

He’s a hard nut to crack. I’ve tried before. But this time he actually said he loved the image!

Of course, at this stage, there’s still no guarantee it’ll be a cover – that’s something you just have to hope for. But to quote Pa Angel “PRAISE THE LORD”, it was chosen as a cover! 

After making my debut in the Mighty Prog four years ago, and now the Meg, I am lucky enough to get a cover. And all by chance!

.

And thanks to Dan Cornwell for sharing that happy accident with us – you can find that Dredd cover on 2000 AD Prog 2217, out on 3 February from all good newsagents, comic shops, and the 2000 AD web shop.

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Will Simpson Gives You The Hero Pose At High Noon

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!

Prog 2216, out 27 January, brings us not just the conclusion of Michael Carroll and Will Simpson‘s Judge Dredd: Desperadlands, with Dredd wrapping up his latest Ciudad Barranquilla adventure, but also finishes off with a cracking cover by Will Simpson. This one…

Now, we’ve already had chats with both Mike Carroll and Will Simpson, including seeing plenty of examples of the fully-painted artwork Simpson has produced for the series in a Behind The Art feature. So, quite understandably, with this Covers Uncovered entry, Will simply sent along his process pictures. But, oh, they’re great images!

As far as process goes, Will explained how he does what he does in the interview:

‘I’m still a caveman. I get the charcoal out of my fireplace and after I’ve cooked the wild boar, I mix the fat in with my egg yolks and then…..I pick up my 2B pencil and start scribbling! Pencils, paper, artboard, ink, acrylic, watercolour, gouache and sometimes oil paints, and then after I’ve scanned and pieced together my pages, maybe a little bit of photoshop highlighting, and that’s the art! I’m very old school. I’m in awe of what is done on computer, but I’m better with my tools. It does mean I have lots of physical artwork and a need for great amounts of storage space!!! Other artists could probably do it digitally, but not me. There’s lots of happy accidents creating a page and moving paint around.

And putting together this cover was essentially the same process.

Firstly, it’s the planning stage, for which Will came up with two different poses for Dredd, describing it as, ‘The one I thought about doing….and then the pencil of the one I did. More powerful hero angle.’

Here’s idea #1

Got to love that ‘For a Few Credits More’ in the background.

And now the one that did make the cut, the more powerful hero angle…

And another bit of great background Sergio Leone detailing.

As you can see, there’s a fair bit of Western iconography all the way through Simpson’s ideas for the cover, fitting as Desperadlands is effectively Mike Carroll taking the lawman down to the corrupt Western town to sort out the problem, just with a bit of sci-fi and a South American setting.

After the ideas and planning stage, Simpson takes it through loose pencils, to inks, complete with that Simpson splatter!

Joe, you’ve got a little splatter on you… oh, never mind.

Next, the painting stage, with Simpson building up his colours as each stage unfolds…

And that’s it. Painting done, it’s all scanned in, cleaned up, maybe a few alterations and then off to Tharg for another cracking Will Simpson cover.

Once more, thanks so much to Will for sending over all these beautiful looking pieces. And remember to check out the interviews with Mike Carroll and Will Simpson, along with the extended look at much of Simpson’s process work from all four parts of Desperadlands.

You can get hold of his Dredd cover for 2000 AD Prog 2216 – and you can pick that up from the 2000 AD web shop from 27 January.

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Mark Montague Gets To Kiss The Axe

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 welcome Mark Montague to the esteemed ranks of cover artists for the Galaxy’s Greatest.

2000 AD Prog 2215 features Mark’s very first cover and he’s absolutely hit the ground running with a stunning rendition of Slaine doing what Slaine does best, as he comes up against the Dragons of the Trojans. You can see more stunning Slaine artwork inside the latest Prog with Leonardo Manco’s gorgeous work on Pat Mills’ Slaine: Dragontamer.

Mark’s name first appeared in 2000 AD with his 2018 winning entry for the very first 2000 AD Art Stars competition, the incredible competition that regularly gives you the chance to see your art inside a future issue of 2000 AD!

His winning Art Stars entry, featuring a captured Dredd, appeared in the Prog as a Star Scan, the pin-up page that’s been graced by some of the finest artists of 2000 AD history, including Brian Bolland, Brett Ewins, Brendan McCarthy, and so many more!

And now he’s back with a debut cover that’s already setting a high bar for the best cover of the year – and we’re only into January! It’s an absolute classic Slaine and Mark was thrilled to get the gig!

Mark Montague: Tharg contacted me & asked if I’d like to do a cover for 2000 AD. I felt thrilled and honoured to be deemed worthy of contributing to the galaxy’s greatest comic.

Tharg wanted a picture of Slaine, which would depict him up close, dominating the cover, with a dragon approaching from the background. I did 3 prelims sketches for Tharg to chose from. I tried different poses for Slaine but the first one I drew, seemed to work the best, so I just concentrated on the dragon poses.

Once a prelim was approved, I did a colour rough, which I would use for my colour palette.

I’ve found that knowing the overall colour scheme a painting, speeds up my work flow by not having to play around & experiment with colour, until I get something that I like, which could mean that I might miss a deadline. 

The next thing was to draw the picture in tighter detail. I spent most of my time getting the drawing correct, because I don’t want to be making major corrections once I start painting. It’s easier to correct a drawing, than trying to colour match a repainted arm or leg. There will still be corrections towards the end but hopefully they will only be minor ones.

I started painting the background first, as this will inform how the colours of the environment will affect the colours on the characters. I masked out the characters & went very gestural with the paint brush.

Once I finished the painting, I left it for a day & then looked at it again with fresh eyes, to see if there were any changes that needed doing to it. There were a few corrections but they were very minor & then I sent the finished piece of work off to Tharg.

And that’s that! The making of a gorgeous looking Slaine cover all done.

Thank you to Mark for giving us that glimpse behind the scenes. And we’ve no doubt that it won’t be too long before we see more 2000 AD covers from this very talented artist.

It’s not the first time Mark’s delivered the goods with Slaine though, as his second Star Scan appeared in 2000 AD Prog 2181, showing us all the promise and talent that comes good with this first cover.

For more, go and read the interview Mark gave us back in 2018 after winning the inaugural 2000 AD Art-Stars competition with the piece below, a captured Judge Dredd in the clutches of Brother Morgar and the Brotherhood of Darkness from The Cursed Earth saga.

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Neil Roberts gets Vexplosive

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 artist Neil Roberts with an action-packed cover to Prog 2214, featuring Proteus Vex jumping into action. Michael Carroll and Jake Lynch’s sci-fi spectacular continues inside with the latest episode of The Shadow Chancellor, along with more from Judge Dredd, Hershey, Slaine, and Durham Red in a Prog full of Ghafflebette adventures and Scrotnig sci-fi action!

2000 AD Prog 2214 is out right now and you can get it everywhere that great comics are sold, including the 2000 AD web shop.

Neil Roberts has been making these stunning 2000 AD covers for a while now and this is yet another fabulous looking thing that is shouting out from the shelves of your local newsagent right now.

Neil sent over a couple of images in the making of it all, but first, it’s a moment of thinking about influences…

NEIL ROBERTS: I wanted my cover for Proteus Vex to lean heavily in to the artistic influences of the strip. Henry Flint, Moebius, Shaky Kane with a dose of Mick Austin and Wally Wood – all brilliant and influential and also a delightfully eclectic mix.

Roberts’ influence board for the Proteus Vex cover
From the top, Shakey Kane, Moebius, Henry Flint, and then bottom row Mick Austin and Wally Wood.

That is a wonderfully eclectic mix of influences right there. And yes, you can really see them all in the cover, not to mention seeing them in the pages of Proteus Vex.

Okay, back to Neil…

NEIL ROBERTS: I was guided by intuition, my thumbnail inspired by panels from the strip.

Tharg approved it and I was off, painting my way to the deadline!

I hope I’ve done those artists some justice in adding their influences into the piece, hopefully people out there like it as much as I had fun working on it.

Here’s Neil’s rough of the cover… although this is yet another one of those moments where the artist’s idea of just what contributes a rough is wildly at odds with what us normal, non-artist types would ever consider what we’d mean by rough. I mean, just look at this and think about what sort of thing you’d be able to muster as a ‘rough’…

After the rough (well, he calls it rough anyway) stage, time to get everything together and get the finishes and inks and tighten it all up, with it all looking like this…

Thank you so much to Neil for taking the time out to show us his influences and his process work here.

If you want to see more, you can find him on Twitter, see his Artstation site here, and catch his work on the covers of Games Workshop’s New York Times best selling Horus Heresy novels and other series, as well as cover art for Judge Dredd novels, Commando Comics, historical magazines and various video games and TV/ film productions. And, of course, we’ll be looking forward to more from him on the cover of a Prog sometime soon!

And finally, just a quick look at Neil’s one and only interior work at 2000 AD, Prog 1678 and Chrono-Cabbies, a Time Twister written by Alec Worley…

Posted on

Covers Uncovered – Nick Percival Ssssleighs With Megazine 427

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on

2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Simp-ly Steven Austin talking Prog 2211!

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 – the Simp-ly stunning cover to 2000 AD Prog 2211 by Steven Austin and colourist Chris Blythe, marking the final episode of the Judge Dredd 5-parter, Simply Normal, as written by Kenneth Niemand and drawn by Austin and Blythe.

And if you recognise the image, you’re probably right – but we’ll let Steven Austin give you the story of that as he gives us the lowdown on the cover…

Steven Austin: I was asked by TMO to come up with some ideas for for prog 2211, the issue featuring the finale to the Dredd strip I had worked on with Kenneth Niemand, ‘Simply Normal’.

I already had an idea based upon images from the 1967 Vietnam protests where demonstrators are placing flowers into the muzzles of the police rifles, I felt that the symbolism illustrated from this image was both apt and striking.

This is the Pulitzer Prize-nominated image, taken by photographer Bernie Boston during the ‘March on The Pentagon’, 21 October 1967. You can read more on it at the Wikipedia page and Boston’s obituary from the Boston Globe here.

‘Flower Power’ – photograph by Bernie Boston, taken during ‘March on The Pentagon’, 21 October 1967.

Steven Austin: However, as I was asked to come up with ‘some ideas’, I felt that I should present a variation – coz that seemed the professional thing to do – but was quietly confident that Tharg would choose this one.

I beamed across some thumbnails and thankfully Tharg did exactly that, stating it was, ‘Something a bit different’.

Initially, I was going to draw the Lawgiver coming in from the left of the image with the hand and flower on the right but from a design perspective, it didn’t work for me as the gun is supposed to be static and the hand moving in to place the flower into the muzzle – a flower which, by the way, you’ll notice is a Daisy relating to the main character – and so as the reader naturally reads the image from left to right I used some artistic license and swapped it around.

Once I was happy with the initial idea I went about drawing the final piece. Most of my work is drawn without reference but I do use it for images whereby one small error will blow the whole effect and so I photographed my own hand in the position I required and photoshopped a daisy into it.

I then blew up my thumbnail to A3 size, lightboxed it roughly, using the photo of my hand and flower for ref, pencilled it and inked it using the old brush.

Simp-ly the pencils…
And finally, the inks – Simp-les!

Once the image was complete and the inks sent off to the nerve centre the colouring of the piece is out of my hands. However, my hope was that Chris Blythe who coloured the strip would be colouring it. In fact, I realised that I’d drawn it with him in mind hence all of the background space I left – I love how Chris fills the spaces with those lovely textures he achieves.

 Well, he did, and I wasn’t disappointed – and that light on the mode selector…genius!

And there you go, cover complete from initially thoughts through to the inks – it all seems so Simp-le when the artist talks it through, but it’s a classic iconic cover in the grand traditions of the Prog.

Thank you once more to Steven Austin for sending that across – and of course, a tip of the hat to colourist Chris Blythe for the incredible job he did on this one!

You can find 2000 AD Prog 2211 in shops and from the 2000 AD web shop from 9 December.