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2000AD Covers Uncovered – Wolf Stern Howler!

Alex Ronald is back with this brilliant cover to celebrate the climax of Black Shuck! As readers will know, Shuck had to face the dastardly King Coenwulf as his poor wife was giving birth to twins. Sheesh, the lengths some blokes will go to avoid childbirth!

Alex has been illustrating for the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic for over twenty years (time for a service, Tharg!) and his digital paintings are virtually unrecognisable from his original, more traditional work. Of course, this isn’t his first Black Shuck cover, he painted the magnificent cover that launched the series too…

 Orc manoeuvres in the dark.

Below we can see Alex’s rough for the cover…

Shuck was over the (full) moon with his new horsey string puppet.

He says “As you can see the werewolf pose changed a bit between rough and final. I felt the foreshortening of the left arm and the lack of wolfy hair wasn’t really working.
Hopefully the shirtless spread arms was a bit of a better approach…”

Shucks to be you Coenwulf!

Another brilliant cover from an artist truly at the top of his game. You can see many more amazing breakdowns of Alex’s work here and please, please visit his site, there’s work on there to die for!

Huge thanks to Alex from sending the images and text!

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2000AD Covers Uncovered – Don’t even THINK about it!

Mrs Anderson’s little girl returns to Prog 1993 with this fantastic cover by new droid Christian Ward. ‘The Candidate’ by Emma Beeby, Nick Dyer, Richard Elson and Ellie DeVille sees the Big Meg’s premier Psi Judge tasked with protecting controversial politician Carol Smart. A career politician whose Manifesto calls for more judges and increased judicial powers, Smart has made herself a target for the terrorist group known as the Citien’s Army. Can Anderson and Rookie-Judge Flowers protect her in time for the forthcoming mayoral elections?

Cover artist Christian Ward gives us his debut cover for the series, his pychedelic style perfectly complimenting the character. Christian is co-creator and dazzling artist of ODY-C (his panel layouts are amazing!) and has worked on a host of impressive titles such as The Uncanny X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Mad Max: Fury Road, Dr Who and more.

As a long term 2000AD fan, Christian was delighted to work for the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic! He said “Like a lot of UK comic artists, I grew up on 2000ad. Characters like Dredd and Nemesis the Warlock and artists like Brendan McCarthy and Simon Bisley were hugely influential. It was a revelation that comics didn’t all have to look the same, that they could be non-traditional, or painted, or abstract, or that it could be way more bold and exciting than what I’d previously seen in the pages of American comics. You can see the DNA of it in my art, particularly in the pyschedelia of my creator-owned comic ODY-C which I do with Matt Fraction. It was a huge thrill to get to do a cover and what better character to have a crack at than Anderson. It was great to portray one of the coolest psychic characters there is!”

The brief was pretty straight forward. Just a shot of Anderson with ‘a psychedelic effect flowing out of her’. My initial thought was to have a sense of the threat around her but i quickly dropped that to focus on Anderson…”

Below is Christian’s initial rough sketch…

Cassandra Anderson in ‘Fantastic Voyage!’ 

And some exploration of his initial idea…

“I’m watching you!”

Tense, nervous headache? Take Megadol!

Christian continues “The favourite was against the white but with a flat colour rather than the white. Nice and straight forward…”

With the initial idea nailed, it was time for the pencils…

Anderson in her psychic form?

And with the pencils done, it was time for Christian to get to work on his trademark psychedelia! Ta da!

“You ain’t seen me, roight!?!”

As you can see, Christian had a blast with the cover, he said “All in all the cover was fun and I hope it’s the first of many!” Us too!

Be sure to check out Christian’s website, it’s eye poppingly zarjaz! 

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2000AD Covers Uncovered – Manhunt?

Long time readers of the good old 2000AD Covers Uncovered Blog will know that Neil Roberts, cover artist of Prog 1991, has been a long time contributor and friend of the site. Easily one of Tharg’s more aesthetically pleasing models, the Roberts droid is famed for going to great lengths to actually pose for his covers before undertaking them, often with hilarious results! Follow the link to see some examples of his earlier modelling work!

It’s ironic that the master of disguise Roberts droid was chosen for this cover as it launches the brand new Judge Dredd thriller ‘Ladykiller’, featuring the notorious, chameleon-like PJ Maybe! Neil said “This one was very straightforward I’m afraid! No selfies or anything like that!” (Drat! – Pete) “The brief was to have Dredd roaring down the road with H-Wagons and more in support…”

Neil is a past master at rendering the Lawmaster, providing stunning covers for Mongoose Publishing and, of course, Prog 1659, both shown below…

The Iso-Block 666 day release to the model village was always popular…

Ohhh, it’ll be nightmare to get those stains out!

Neil continues “I sent a thumbnail to Tharg for approval, he liked it and I painted it from there! Here’s the thumbnail sketch...”

As you can see, those big wobbly things go past the green stuff with the big blobby things in the sky. A solid concept…

Neil continues “The colour scheme was based on a classic 2000AD Monthly cover from way back (black sky, white road, green buildings – real 4 colour process stuff…”

“Last one to the Grand Hall is a Rookie!”

That four colour scheme will have most likely have been painted by 2000AD legend Tom Frame who, as well as lettering a huge number of 2000AD strips, coloured many classic covers of yesteryear. Check out Steve Cook’s excellent Secret Oranges blog to see more of Tom’s handy work. Also, here are the inks of this classic cover…

“Jovus! It was only an overdue library slug!”

Neil continues “Here is the finished piece as sent to Tharg for his droids to work their magic on…”

The re-vamp of Top Gear contained even less humour than it’s 21st century forerunner…

So there you have it, the making of this modern classic. Will Dredd get his er… man? If so, what will be the cost to the city? Find out in the Galaxy’s greatest!

Huge thanks to Neil for once again providing some excellent images and commentary!

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2000AD Covers Uncovered – Beach Dredd

It’s holiday time, which can mean only one thing, the mighty one is spoiling us with with the zarjaz 2000AD Summer Special! The special features five brand new stories for you to read at your leisure by the chem-pools of Gran Vesusia or while floating in zero G beaches of Sedna. The special sports a gloriously sunny cover by scrotnig Art Droid Ryan Brown, who has certainly delivered the goods!

I asked Ryan to tell me about this glorious cover, he said “Tharg wanted an image on the cover of us looking up at Dredd on a beach. I had to keep the angle shallow so we could see the sand and the sea. My rough (which I deleted, d’oh!) had the coloured bucket and spade but Tharg thought it should be gray. However, I fought to keep them brightly coloured as it makes a nice contrast with dredd as hes very monochrome. I loved the colours, which I based on this photograph...”

That woman in the white top shouldn’t have had the chilli…

I thought the colours were a nice connection to the comic covers of old. In my covers, I like to have some dramatic lighting and this beach scene was a great opportunity for that. I really want to get my teeth into an action cover in the future, something with some dynamic poses and stuff!

Hmmmm, Ryan needn’t worry too much about action covers, here are some of his awesome images of old, starting with a titantic tussle at the dump that is Pete Wells Block!

Death’s ventriloqist act needed some work…

Or how about this super cool cover of Prog 1929?


There are many, many more examples of Ryan’s amazing work on his brand new website, which you can find at .

Back to the Summer Special cover, here’s how it looks at your local Thrill Merchant…

“There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Joseph, dear Joseph!”

Ryan adds “Also, I wanted Dredd holding an icecream which was dripping onto the sand but that was going to far, ha ha ha!”

HUGE thanks to Ryan for sending the images and text. Be sure to check out his brand new site at for loads of awesome images!

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2000AD Covers Uncovered – “I see Dredd people!”

The king of cool, Jake Lynch is back with an absolutely iconic Dredd cover for Prog 1990! Jake has been a staunch supporter of 2000AD Covers Uncovered, but sadly, most of his posts have resulted in him being a recipient of a Rigellion Hotshot from the Mighty One himself. 

I was hoping things would have gotten better for Jake, it seems not. He said “Tharg has given permission for all Earthbound, Nerve Centre Staff to abuse me. To that end, CyberMatt contacted me around 11pm one evening demanding I do a cover at short notice. He made it clear that I was not worthy…”

“Of the thumbnails submitted, one was selected then quickly inked up…”

Dredd brandishes his impressive weapon…

Disgusting treatment, dammit though, I adore those stylised buildings. The cits are cool too! Jake continues “This was followed by the usual routine of tone and colour…”

Tonely the Stonely!

Jake continues “Dredd’s posture looks a bit wrong so I rotate the image a tad to try to compensate…”

“That ain’t no Pokemon kid!”

But, dear reader, I know wht you’re thinking, the printed cover was waaay different. Jake explains “After the image was submitted, CyberMatt decreed that the background was unworthy, demanded it be removed and my Rigellian Hotshot was in the post. I also used the opportunity to reduce Dredds mouth a bit.”

BANG! And the cits are gone!

“Adjustments made and job done…” DING DONG!

“Oh goody, the Postie’s here, I wonder what exciting stuff she’s got for me to-AARRRGGHHhhhh…”

 Oh no! it looks like Jake has incurred the wrath of Tharg again! A monumental thank you to Jake, I’ll make sure I send some flowers to the Art Droid Mechanics on behalf of this blog! 

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2000AD Covers Uncovered – Brink Special!

Prog 1978 saw the debut of Tharg’s newest thrill, the glorious Brink, by scriptdroid Dan Abnett and mind boggling artdroid, INJ Culbard.

This futuristic, police-based procedural sees cops Carl Brinkman and Bridget Kurtis investigating drug crime and murder on the Odette Habitat – a festering space station inhabited by all manner of oddbods, addicts and cultists following the evacuation of Earth.

Following his runaway success on Brass Sun, the Culbard droid is bringing his unique world building skills to this new, deeply unsettling tale. Ian was kind enough to give me the rundown on his first two stunning covers to date, he said…

“Below is the initial rough sketch working from a brief set by Tharg which read “The two investigators in the foreground, with the habitat behind them and something vaguely Lovecraftian and menacing in the spacey backdrop”. So, with the latter part of the brief, and given the nature of the series, I went for cosmic tentacles. Not so much menacing as just, vast. I’ve done a fair bit of Lovecraftian stuff before, and for this series particularly, the kind of vague Lovecraftian vibe is more like an aurora borealis. An amazing light show, but in reality you’re looking at a solar storm battering our planet’s atmosphere and that’s actually pretty scary. On a far grander more cosmological scale, the sort of scale befitting anything Lovecraftian, if you could imagine the Horsehead Nebula, utterly beautiful and serene, now imagine that destroying everything in its path. Hence, cosmic tentacles…”

Oh dear, the Culbard droid has leaked oil all over his work…

He continues “I did at one point include a more detailed and populated background, but it was decided that that it looked too busy and took away from the focus, which at launch really needed to be the two main protagonists. Going back to what I was saying about the Horsehead Nebula, that influenced a good real of colour for the cosmos.”

“Come out law breakers! I know you’re here somewhere!!!”

And here’s Ian’s finished piece, absolutely wonderful!

The Horsehead Nebula is actually Vito Corleone’s favourite constellation…

“For the second cover I did a really quick rough sketch to Tharg’s brief which I don’t have to hand but it was something along the lines of Bridge falling down a rabbit hole so I did just that, with Bridge, gun in hand, falling backward down the piped corridors of the habitat ventilation system, with cultist’s arms poking through to grab her. Initially I had Anish’s drive system behind her but that ended up just complicating the image so I left it out but retained the red from the environment in which we first encounter Anish…”

“The Claws!”

“Tharg felt it looked like Bridge was floating towards us and suggested I draw her falling backwards, arms and legs flailing. He also wanted some sect graffiti on the pipe work, all of which led to the final image. Always loved that bike chase sequence in Akira where you get the tail lights streaking, so I decided to have that coming from the magazine light on Bridge’s gun!”

When crowd surfing goes wrong…

All of which brings us up to speed with the world of Brink! A huge, HUGE thanks to INJ Culbard for sending the info and circuit scrambling images! Grud only knows how this twisted tale is going to end but I’m however it does, I’m hooked!

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2000AD Covers Uncovered Cursed Earth Special!

Next week finally sees the publication of The Cursed Earth Uncensored which features the astounding cover above by veteran artdroid Brian Bolland! For the first time ever, this blistering tome collects the complete, uncensored tale of Judge Dredd’s epic journey across the Cursed Earth to deliver the antidote for the deadly 2T(fru)T virus to the plague struck citizens of MegaCity-2.

This heafty hardback includes the previously banned tales ‘The Burger Barons’ and ‘Soul Food’ by Pat Mills, John Wagner and Jack Adrian. The stories, gloriously illustrated by art legends Mick McMahon and Brian Bolland, feature caricatures that bear a distinct resemblance to several corporate characters of the time. Legal wrangling meant that the strips were never reprinted, until now!

As well as re-inserting those controversial tales, the book features a brilliant cover and star scan gallery as well as glorious full colour reprints of McMahon and Bolland’s beloved centre spreads, absolutely guaranteed to blow the thrill circuits of even the most hardened squaxx!

To celebrate, I have decided to share some uncoloured versions of those phenomenal covers that accompanied this ground breaking epic, starting with McMahon’s often copied classic of Prog 61 that kicked off this crazy rollercoaster ride!

I wonder if he ever suffers from road rage?

In the city of Deliverance, Dredd meets The Lawgiver, who sentences Dredd to a disgusting death from his Devil’s Lapdogs, a swarm of poisonous, garbage surfing rats where one bite means instant death!

“You Dirty Rat!”

The cover of Prog 69 saw Dredd speak one of his immortal lines that a certain robotic cop became very fond of saying…


Tweak is actually swearing on this cover.

In the town of Repentance, Dredd is offered up to Satanus, the Dark One!

Satanus was very fond of Lawman Kebabs…

Here is a cover for one of the banned story arcs, as Dredd meets a not so jolly Green Giant in the Great Utah Dustbowl…


Oh oh no! Green Giant!

Prog 82 gave us Tweak’s tragic backstory accompanied by this absolute classic cover by Brian Bolland…

The crowd didn’t think much of One Direction’s new look…

As Dredd and co enter Death Valley, they cross the Legion of the Damned!

Dredd exercises the right to bare arms…

And finally, one of the most iconic Dredd covers ever. Surely a cover that sums our man up more than any other, the legendary Prog 85…

If you think he looks bad, you should smell that armpit…

As a bonus, here’s a sneaky peek of a BRILLIANT commission that Mick McMahon is working on for fan and Judge Minty FX/Editing whizz Steve Green. This Burger Barons pastiche of the cover of Prog 72 is one of the greatest things I’ve seen. Can’t wait for the inked version!

May contain nuts…  

I hope you have enjoyed this terrifying run down Cursed Earth Memory Lane. Be sure to secure your copy of Cursed Earth Uncensored now Earthlets! 

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2000AD Covers Uncovered – Mars Attacks!

Set your Thrill receptors on full as Prog 1988 sees the triumphant return of super artist D’Israeli to the Galaxy’s Greatest, as Scarlet Traces makes it’s debut in Prog 1988. Scarlet Traces: Cold War is the third book of Ian Edginton and D’Israeli’s Scarlet Traces series, a story set after the alien invasion of The War of the Worlds by H.G Wells (hey, nice name!) 

Cold War is set in 1968, seventy four years after the invasion of Earth by alien forces. Earth has fully grasped and developed the alien technology but this has been at great cost to Britain, which resulted in the destruction of much of the South of England at the end of the ‘The Great Game.’

I asked comics legend D’Iraeli to fill us in on the creation of his startling cover the series. Over to him…

“So, as as usual, Tharg-in-Residence Matt Smith sent me a detailed brief for the cover of Prog 1988. In this case it was an expanded version of a panel from the first episode of Scarlet Traces – Cold War:

“Would you be up for doing a cover for the first episode? I was thinking of the three fighter ships flying in formation towards us, Union Jacks on the wings, Earth in the background…?”

“I always produce three different cover roughs, one based exactly on the brief, one slight variant, and one wild card. Since I’d built 3D models of the Interceptor spaceships for the episode, I spent a bit of time arranging the models in different compositions, rather than sketching out layouts.”

“CGI is a bit of a double-edged sword – it can save time and effort when drawing complex objects (assuming said object appears enough times in a strip for the time saved drawing it to offset the time spent building and arranging the model(s.)) If you’re not careful, it can end up producing a dull, mechanical-looking end result. For myself, I always ink over 3D model renders by hand to integrate them completely with my own drawing. In the case of a composition like this, it’s important to introduce dynamic compositions and strong perspective to help offset the “deadening” effect of the mechanically-correct CGI underpinnings.

The model renders are shown here with the roughs I made from them using Clip Studio Paint (née Manga Studo):

“Below is the wild card cover. This is the “kitchen sink” composition – it has everything, the interceptors converging on an alien cylinder with both the Earth and the Moon in the background, and an interceptor pilot clearly visible. My tribute to 1970’s sci-fi paperback covers.”

Erm… some beach balls and candy rocks in space? What is the artist trying to tell us here?

“Closer to Matt’s brief, but with the exploding alien cylinder in the background for added “oomph.”

A futuristic reimagining of the Hindenburg Disaster.

“And the final sketch, Interceptors and the Earth, precisely as per the brief. As you can see here, I didn’t do a new render from the models for this one; I just positioned a render of the Earth over the first reference image to give me the background I needed.” 

Will the last person to leave Earth please turn off the lights.

“Once Tharg had approved rough number 3, it was time to begin the finished drawing. Since most of the image was based on 3D model renders, there was relatively little drawing to be done. This image shows the minimal amount of pencilling I had to do…”

White Space…

“Here I’m inking the spaceships. I do the inks on their own layer so I’ll be able to play around with the backgrounds later on.”

Spaceships by Bertie Bassett.

“Adding the black of space (which also defines the disc of the Earth…)”

And on the first day, D’Israeli said “Let there be dark!” 

“Softening. There are two things I don’t usually do; shade with black or use the airbrush tool for shading. I usually avoid that particular look because it’s a kind the basic go-to solution for anyone teaching themselves digital art, and it’s hard to differentiate your work if you just do what everyone else does. In this case, though, airbrushed tones were just what I needed to lend volume to the curves of the planet and the spaceships in the harsh light of interplanetary space. Never say “never!””

Turned out cloudy then…

“Flat colours; here I’m adding in the basic flat colours to the objects (using the Paint Bucket tool) and tracing off the shapes of the continents as blocks of colour (using the excellent Lasso Fill tool in Clip Studio Paint née Manga Studio – just draw a shape and let go and it automatically fills with colour, just like using the old Pencil tool in Illustrator.) The colours on the planet are on two different layers, under the colours of the spaceships, so I can fiddle with them without affecting the ships.
I’ve made one change here from the roughs – swapping the colours of the yellow and green spaceships, since the green was getting lost against the colour of the continents behind.”

After the 50th series of Celebrity Big Brother, the people of Earth had had enough…

“Clouds. Mostly drawn in using the Lasso Fill tool, with the Pen tool used for the smaller blobs. I try to set up a realistic-looking whorl pattern that will draw the eye to the lead spaceship. I do this on a new layer between the colours for the spaceships and the colour for the planet, so I don’t have to worry about masking them out or anything – I can just draw freely and they appear “behind” the spaceships.”

Cloud Atlas

“Cloud shadows. By selecting the clouds with the Lasso tool, nudging the selection a few pixels over with the keyboard arrow keys, filling with black on a new layer, repeating the selection of the clouds, and using it to delete parts of the black fill, I create fine black shadows for the clouds over the Earth in about thirty seconds flat!”

“Past the Sea of Swirly Twirley Gumdrops.”

“Highlights. On a new layer, I add a few shiny highlights to the spacecraft to help them “pop.” I also add a bright blue circular gradient to the Earth’s oceans to help give form to the globe. Finally, I lock transparency on the layer containing the continents. This means I can only draw on the continents themselves. I then add texture with Clip Studio’s Chalk brushes, using a mix of beiges, browns and khaki-greens to give variation to the Earth’s surface.”

Given a bit of a polish by one of those windscreen washer folks. There’s no escaping them!

“I wonder if the space background would look better with stars added. Save a copy, add stars – no, it doesn’t. Back to the previous version. Another reason to work digitally – with real media that experiment would have set me up for at least an hour of repair work.”

“My God! It’s full of stars!”


Earth Forces are Go!

“I export the file from Clip Studio Paint in Photoshop format, and process it to a flat CMYK TIFF in Photoshop for upload to the 2000AD FTP server.”

Wow!!! Thank you so much to D’Israeli for sendng the images and excellent breakdown, a true pro! Be sure to visit his site at here and also Eamonn Clake’s brilliant Scarlet Traces annotations page!

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2000AD Covers Uncovered – Bow Doodley!

Welcome to a special edition of 2000AD Covers Uncovered which celebrates the beautiful work of award winning portrait artist Simon Davis. A fine artist of some repute, Simon is an associate of The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists as well as the Vice-President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. We are extremely lucky to have such an esteemed artist adding his unique talent on one of Tharg’s most beloved characters. His dazzling style of broad brush strokes and unconventional blocks of colour complement the world of the Warped One beautifully.

In this special feature, we will look at all of Simon’s covers and cover sketches since he took over as Slaine artist in residence. I didn’t think it too many…

When the announcement was made that Simon would be taking over from Clint Langley on Slaine duties, Tharg wasted no time in getting the artist to provide his debut cover for the character. Prog 1844 celebrated thirty years of the character and saw the beginning of The Book of Scars story. This twisted tale saw Slaine revisit some of his earlier adventures with some stellar artists that have made their mark on the strip.

Below is the sketch for the cover…

Slaine never got the hang of smiling for the camera…

And the finished masterpiece…

Slaine learned the hard way about messin with elecricity…

Simon’s tenure in the strip began in ‘A Simple Killing’ in Prog 1874, however we had to wait until 1880 to get his glorious study of the mysterious Sinead. We’ll start with a couple of sketches…

Slaine the chestburster!

Sinead’s new tattoo was lovely…

Followed by the sumptuous main event!

Little Miss Sunshine she aint…

Two progs later, Simon knocked it out of the Causeway with this beautiful wraparound (should that be Warparound?) cover showing Slaine take on a Collossus on the lush island of Monadh…

Let the wild rumpus start!

They did the mash! They did the monster mash!

And finally for that arc, Slaine races against the Miscreations to save Sinead from Gododin’s blade…

Ugly scenes in Newcastle following their relegation…

Shane McGowen has let himself go…

When Slaine returned, Simon provided this stunning portrait of the Warped Warrior, sadly no sketch for this one and it’s easily one of my favourites…

Portrait of a Sassairian Killer!

Slaine’s adventures led him to a fierce battle with a Trojan army in Prog 1930, giving us this gorgeous cover…

“Trojan Fett? Trojan Fett? Where?”

Trojan Phwoooor!


Slaine was a mess, first thing on a morning…

Get Ugly!

When Slaine returned in prog 1979 he’d been battling with Gort for yonks, was beaten black and blue and sported this rather fetching shiner! Still, you should see the other guy…

The whupped warrior!

Someone put the Shroud of Turin in the wash with a blue sock…

A fortnight ago, we learned about Slaine’s rather yummy mummy Macha, an excellent archer and somewhat questionable role model for her son!

Bowny Mum

“You’ve got red on you…”

Which brings us up to date with this weeks’ spectacular as Slaine (still sporting that lovely shiner) follows in his mother’s footsteps and unleashes some arrows! Hmmm, makes me fancy a pint of cider…

“Oi Harold! Look at this…”

“Keep out of the black and into the red. NUTHING in this game, for two in a bed.”

Huge, huge thanks to Simon for sending the images, he deserves a hero harness of his own!