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2000AD Covers Uncovered – Harvey Wall Clanger!

Trial by Machine is back! John Wagner and John McCrea bring full metal justice to the streets of Mega City One in the blistering new Judge Dredd thriller Harvey, beginning in Prog 2024. With justice department resources at an all time low, Chief Judge Hershey looks to the troubled Mechanismo Programme to help bring some order to the Chaos. After the previous catastrophic failings of the robotic judges, have Tek Division finally got it right?

I asked celebrated artdroid John McCrea to tell us about his creation of the brilliant cover for the opening episode. He said “The story focuses on a Mechanismo robot called Harvey, and as the film Harvey, starring Jimmy Stewart and his eponymous 8ft tall invisible rabbit, is one of my favourite movies ever ( though a lot of Jimmy Stewart’s films are in my favourite list!) I thought a tribute to the movie poster would be cool…

Jimmy Stewart loved Easter…

“So I roughed out a sketch (I thought about having Dredd sitting down but didn’t have the artistic chops to pull it off) and plonked the logo on it to give Tharg an idea of the finished cover. It got the green thumbs up.”

Barry Manilow visits Megacity-One

And with a nice logo added…

Dredd outside Isaac Asimov Block

“I printed out the pencils and inked them on a lightbox. Then I went and had a sandwich. Beetroot, humous, basil and pepper, lightly toasted. Honest, it’s fantastic. And a cup of tea. I walked back to the drawing board, looked at the inks, hated the Dredd figure and started again.”

Here are the inks that John hated, maybe HE should go and see Dr Sanderson…

Behold! The unloved inks of the monster that is John McCrea!

“I wanted the Dredd figure to be more dynamic- he was a little to startled looking in my previous attempt. Dredd is never startled. Pissed off, annoyed, grumpy maybe, but never startled, surprised, shocked etc…”

A more pissed off, annoyed and grumpy Dredd. 

” I decided to use more of an ink wash finish this time round ( I’d been doing a lot of that on my Dreddwolf story for IDW and I had some spare ink left on my mixing plate (49p from Ikea… ))”

Dredd and his shadow, shooting up the avenue…

“I then send the art to Mike Spicer in Americaland and shortly thereafter it returns, looking lovely and ready to print. Total time, 2 days. Hope you like it, Earthlets!”

A cold, hard law machine and a robot called Harvey.

Awesome! I love this cover and John’s interiors are amazing! We are totally spoilt at the moment as this week also sees the release of IDW’s “How of the Wolf.” This Deviations tale asks what would happen if Dredd remained a werewolf after the events of the famed ‘Cry of the Werewolf’ tale. 

HUGE thanks to John for sending the images and excellent write up, this Dredd tale is going to be wild!

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – “Could You Art The Fans, Please!?!”

Welcome to 2000 AD Covers Uncovered, where this week we offer you a double whammy from fan favourite Ryan Brown! Ryan has delivered two covers to the Nerve Centre recently, Prog 2018’s ‘The Order’ cover and the prestigious cover of Prog 2020, Judge Dredd’s 40th birthday Prog!

I asked Ryan to tell us about his recent covers, starting with his terrifying Order cover of Prog 2018. Ryan said “Heres the rough for ‘The Order’ cover, I wanted to have a war of the worlds style image , a little B-movie looking, it is a giant worm after all!” 

The Judge Dredd Blobs/Order crossover cover

Ryan’s zarjaz digital art has, quite rightly, been blowing fans away for some time now. As a long time 2000 AD fan himself, Ryan is aware of the thrill of appearing in the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic and is keen to bestow this honour on fellow Squaxx. Like a modern day Santa Claus, Ryan put two of his friends into the painting. He said “Here’s some reference of two of my friends I used for the fleeing victims. They are called Laurence and Mark and are two massive 2000 AD fans!”

Mark and Laurence before being eaten by a giant beastie! 

So below you can see Laurence and Mark being rewarded for their years of devotion by being murdered by a giant, mutant Wyrm. Oh Ryan, you’re so nice! 

“Whisht lads, had ye gobs ah’ll tell ye’s all an awful story…”

Ryan also painted the cover of Prog 2020, the 40th Anniversary of the first Judge Dredd thrill! The cover is for new Dredd tale “Thick Skin,” which finds MegaCity One’s premier lawman investigating a strange case of melting celebrities!

Ryan said “Tharg wanted me to do a cover where Dredd was surrounded by people with melting skin, but they couldn’t be scary 🙁 So i gave them strange melted noses which gives them more of a silly look I think! I did’nt want Dredd looking threatening,  just a bit agitated. Here’s the rough…”

The Planet Replicas ‘Hands on the Judge Costume’ competition entered it’s third week… 

Again, Ryan used a fan for reference for the picture, he said “I’ve included an image from a Dredd cosplayer I found on the web. I liked his pose so wanted to do something similar.”

The Butler is it!

With a bit of detective work, I managed to find out that the cosplayer is none other than Dredd fan, Jared Butler, aka Max Replica! Not only is Jared the body of Dredd in this recent cover, he acually provided the VOICE of the lawman for the awesome Judge Minty fan film! Jared is a professional voice over artist, notably being the ‘voice double’ for Johnny Depp in several official Pirates of the Caribbean projects and other Depp vehicles. Jared was thrilled to be used on the cover, he said “That is so cool! The photo was snapped when I was walking back to my hotel room from San Diego Comic Con. You can see my bag in my hnd, it’s like Dredd just finished his shopping!”    

Jared sent a more official photo, which I am thrilled to share below…

“Drokkin’ weather control is on the fritz again!”

You can read a great interview with Jared on his experience recording the voice of Dredd over on the excellent Judge Tutor Semple blog. 

Finally, Ryan found another reference that he couldn’t resist using. He said “I also found an image of a melting womans face which I liked 🙂 he he he!” Let’s hope the police never have a reason to check Ryan’s internet history, he’ll have a lot of explaining to do!

“Plastic surgery? Moi? I don’t know what you mean dahling!”

And here’s the finished cover, awesome!

The more attractive attendees of the 40th Anniversary Celebration. 

Massive thanks to Ryan for sending the images. Be sure to check out Ryan’s website to see lots more amazing 2000 AD related images!

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered: 40th Anniversary Special 2 – David Aja

Rejoice Earthlets as the 40 Year Special is finally ready to be beamed to your Optical Receptors! The mighty one has pulled out all the stops to bring a Prog jam-packed with some of the very greatest Thrills from the very best creators!

With veteran artdroid Carlos Ezquerra providing the cover for the 40th Anniversary special, it was going to take someone pretty special to produce an alternative cover. Enter award winning cover artist and Dredd fan, David Aja! David produced this gritty Dredd cover that sums the character up perfectly! 

David was thrilled to be asked, having been a fan of Dredd since he was seven years old. Below, we see his thumbnail fo the cover…

“I just picked it up and it went off!”

Of course, the thumbnail was accepted by the mighty one, however, David did submit an alternative idea which looks awesome! Check it out below… 

“Last one to the hottie stall is a Simp!” 

Here are David’s wonderful digital pencils, like the Gruddamn Statue of Judgement!

The Lawrod – when you absolutely, positively have to kill every Motherdrokker in the room.

With the pencils done, David begins to ink using a specially prepared mixture of Indian ink, grit, coolness and pure unadulterated Thrillpower…

A stickler

With the image inked and coloured, David has a play with logo placement, to give a feel of how the finished cover will look…

“Hey Joe! Your head is covering the Lo-” “BAM!!!”

And finally, the finished piece. Grud on a Greenie, that is an outstanding image. Pure, unadulterated Dredd!

He really IS the law.

David was also kind enough to send a Dredd head he did ‘for fun,’ how cool is that!?!

In a league of his tone (Alpologies for that pun, terrible by even my standards! PWLS)

MASSIVE thanks to David for sending the images, be sure to check out his awesome blog here.

The 2000AD 40th Anniversary Special is ON SALE NOW!

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered: 40th Anniversary Special 1 – Carlos Ezquerra

Rejoice Earthlets as the 40 Year Special is finally ready to be beamed to your Optical Receptors! The mighty one has pulled out all the stops to bring a Prog jam-packed with some of the very greatest Thrills from the very best creators!

There are few artdroids that could do justice to such a monumental Prog, however it is all in a day’s work for the daddy of both Judge Dredd and Johnny Alpha, the mighty Carlos Ezquerra!

Below, we see Carlos’ sketch for the cover, featuring three of the most iconic, not to mention grumpy, faces in British comics.

The 2000AD ABBA tribute album gets a cover.

After studying his handome features, the Mighty One approves the rough and instructs the Ezquerra Droid to “Get on with it!” 

Note, the Ezquerra jaggies in full effect here. Each one is lovingly raised on a farm in Andorra before being carefully placed on Carlos’ artwork…

Tharg about to play with his ThreeA figures

Then the Ezquerra droid, a pioneer of computer coloured comic artwork, digitally colours the piece. It is a little known fact that every time Carlos does a cover, the computer he uses has to be replaced as it explodes with pure Thrillpower.

The mean, the green and the machine

Not content with providing the cover of the 40th special, Tharg also created an exclusive print for Vice Press, to be sold at the excellent 40th Anniversary Celebration in London. The print featured Dredd from 1977 having a chin off against Dredd from 2017! How fashion’s change, eh? Here’s the rough…

“A word of advice, look out for a juve called Maybe…”

Set your Thrillbuffers at maximum for those amazing inks – swoon!

“Hey Joe, you remeber the codpiece years?” “No.”

Lastly a bit of tone and text for the final print, absolutely Lawsome!

Who the hell’s gonna mess with them?

Huge thanks to Carlos for sending the images and for attending the 40th Anniversary bash. He sketched ALL day, chatted to fans and was as kind and gracious as ever.

Here’s to another 40 years of Carlos characters and covers! 

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Orc Chop!

The bumper end of year Prog 2011 saw the debut of new strip Kingmaker by the dream team of Ian Edginton and Leigh Gallagher. This fantasy/Sci-fi mash upis become an instant hit with the readers, thanks to a hilarious script and stunning visuals by two top creators. Kingmaker follows the struggle of white wizard Ablard and his unlikely orc companion Crixus as they battle against an invading alien race known as The Thorn!

Leigh made an excellent video for the Mighty One’s zarjaz new “From the Drawingboard” series which you can follow on Youtube. You find it here. 

However, Leigh was kind enough to send his files to 2000 AD Covers Uncovered too. He said “Even though this was a cover for part 5 of Kingmaker, with it being our first, I wanted to make it an introduction to the aliens versus Middle Earth concept by Ian Edginton and myself.”

Below are Leigh’s approved roughs…


Leigh continues “As you know this cover process was recorded for the ‘From The Drawing Board’ video series on Youtube. The thing is, that video was actually my second attempt, as seconds before I was about to send 2000 AD the original video, I made the mistake of showing it to my wife. Upon viewing the opening minutes, she had her mouth covered in utter horror and disbelief and told me that I can’t show that to anyone!”

“It may have been the extended screen time given to the “PJ Holden doll”,or the highly amusing banter to the camera, or the video cutting to me eating a mince pie for 30 seconds in the middle of the montage, or it may have been that after I added “Playgirl centrefold model” to my list of credits I had a half naked photo of me flash up on screen for half a second…. we’ll never know….”

“In any case, I went in a mood for half a day, then redid the opening of the video to what you see now. Hope you like it!” We certainly do Leigh, though I for one would be keen to see that mince pie montage…

Next we have Leigh’s “fairly loose” pencils, as he will be inking the cover himself…

“Up above… and below… sorry, you’re too slow!”

The pencils are scanned then inked on Leigh’s fancy new Ugee drawing tablet. Previously, he’d have used more traditional methods however, as he was recording for Tharg, he went the digital route…

Orc-estral Maneuvres in the Dark Ages.

With the image inked, it was time to digitally colour it to really make the cover pop!

Orc and Mage, stuffing!

Middle Earth sized thank you’s to the beautiful Mr Gallagher for sending the images. Please be sure to check out his work at

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Dreddian Rip!

Tsk – quite literally 2000 AD Covers Uncovered as Jake Lynch has Dredd destroying the cover of Prog 2017, for shame!!! The Lynch droid was firing on all cylenders as he gave us this arresting cover and has kindly provided us with a sequence of images to show how this cover, quite literally, came to life. Below we see Jake’s thumbnail sketches, nice and loose and full of raw Thrillpower…

Jake ponders the correct approach for bursting through paper…

With the general pose decided, Jake goes on to produce his rough, using the 2000 AD cover template as his trusty guide…

“Cover me!”

General layout in place, it’s time for those gritty inks…

Rip Torn?

Next tone and lighting is added. Either that or Jake spilt his milk on the picture…

Dredd the Ripper!

Jake then uses his digital crayons to colour the image.

Drokk, Paper, Sizzles!

And finally, the special effects are added to make Dredd rip out of the Prog! Please note, Tharg does not take kindly to Prog rippage of any kind! Any perpetrators will find themselves on the painful end of a Rigellion Hotshot! 

No Progs were harmed during the making of this cover.

Huuuuge thanks to Jake for sending the zarjaz images! You can see a video of how Jake begins putting a page together on 2000AD’s excellent ‘From the Drawing Board’ series on YouTube – enjoy! 

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2000 AD Covers Uncovered – Rushing Paradox!

Prog 2016 saw the introduction of a fascinating new character in Dredd’s world, the super speedy, super resourceful mutant Paradox Vega. It was obvious that in the recent Dredd arc ‘Deep in the Heart’ that Dredd and Paradox have previous, but writer Mike Carroll isn’t ready to tell us how they met just yet…

Who better to bring Dredd’s capture of Paradox to life than fan favourite cover droid Alex Ronald? Alex, who was trying out a new, looser style, was instructed to call upon Robin Smith’s iconic cover of Prog 495 for reference…

“Oh no you don’t!”

 Alex said “Since the summer last year I’d been trying to change my style a bit starting with a couple of covers I did for the Walter Hill crime book Trigger Man…

Water way to go.

“Hey Love, I finished work earl…”

Alex continues, “I’ve been keeping it a bit more loose than usual and leaving in pencil lines, etc.” Below we see Alex’s gorgeous roughs which have almost as much energy as Paradox herself!

If you have to get shot, you should get shot by the best!

As soon as I saw this cover, I thought the Ronald droid’s software had been given the MacNeil92.exe patch, to channel the painterly style of Colin MacNeil. Alex said “When I did this Dredd cover I tried out painting it with a colour palette along the lines of Colin MacNeil circa early 90’s Mechanismo era. This was to help me get a more painterly feel and bring up my colours to a more vibrant level than the usual dark blue tones I’ve used in the past…” Mission accomplished Alex, it’s glorious!

“Stop or I fire, Crazylegs!”

Alex was also kind enough to send his roughs and finished version of his recent Anderson cover of Megazine 379. Thrill buffers at maximum Earthlets!

She looks ready…


Huge thanks to Alex for sending the covers, we can’t wait to see his next one! Be sure to check out Alex’s amazing blog here for more eyepopping artwork! 

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2000AD Covers Uncovered – “‘Tis But a Flesh Wound!”

Super artdroid Neil Roberts paints us an awesome cover for Prog 2014 for time bending strip, The Order. In the strip, the mighty Medieval droid Ritterstahl must save his future self in 1641 in the era expanding War of the Wyrms!

Neil is amazingly proficient artist on the computer however for this cover, like his other Order covers, he chose lush, fully painted artwork. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s is to die for.

I asked Neil to take us through the creation of the cover, he said “For this particular cover Tharg suggested I start off with the key moment from Kek-W and John M Burns’ strip…”

“Alas, poor Ritterstahl, I knew him so well.”

Neil continues “From there I started looking at some artwork as inspiration, in this case, Dave Gibbons classic Prog 175 robot cover. I mean, c’mon! Just look at that draughtsmanship, the lighting and colour palette – sooooo lovely!”

My Other Ride is a Gaaarglespladger

“And also Wally Wood, for his solid rendering of robots…”

Wally’s cockroach problem was getting out of hand so he called in Robokill.

“Then I drew up a thumbnail based on all those elements – I wanted to go for something more contemplative and still, rather than full-on action. That’s one of 2000AD’s greatest strengths, it has that freedom to explore many different moods and styles…”

Oof, you’ll get piles sitting on that cold rock…

“Once approved, I spent a few days painting up the final piece…”

“Hey there future self, you’ve lost weight!”

“Then it was off to Tharg and his droids for putting on the front cover! Yours, Neil Roberts, or should that be Kneel Robots? Or in this case, Sitting Robots?”

Ho ho ho! He’s a card isn’t he? Neil will be at the 2000AD 40th Bash so feel free to say hello.

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Mark Harrison – Mr Boombastic!

Okay then! This edition of 2000AD Covers Uncovered is coming in two halves; the first, is our usual look at how this weeks’ artist, the BRILLIANT Mark Harrison has put the cover together. The second half will see Mark talk about his obsession for explosions! I’m sure he can expect the MI5 to come knocking soon!

I adore doing a write up for Marks covers for a variety of reasons; A) Because the covers themselves are ALWAYS stunning; B) He is so, so passionate about digital media as an artform and C) I always learn something. This is certainly the case here.

So go and grab a cup of sythicaf and enjoy this weeks’ wonderful 2000AD Covers Uncovered brought to you by the amazing Mark Harrison…

“Be warned, i’m going to name drop like a SOB in this sort of tutorial on real world faked in digital cover breakdown!”

“When Tharg tasked me with providing a cover for the (Bill) Savage strip depicting transformer-styled bikes, I was both excited and deflated. Excited because I’d get to try out my new “explosion brushes” (see KABOOM – EXPLOSIONS UNCOVERED at the end of this cover breakdown); deflated because how could I really improve on the composition of Patrick Goddard‘s stunning comic art. So why reinvent the wheel?”

Here we see Patrick’s perfect composition!

Robots in disguise?

“I planned to do very little to it compositionally, just tweak the poses a little and allow the render to carry the difference. To that end I started with silhouettes within silhouettes, working over a couple of google grabbed images of motorbikes.

“It’s an approach I use for concept art, defining the outline then working within that on areas of note- catching the light, etc. I was effectively treating this as a money shot- production art for the Bill Savage movie!”

“The silhouettes, drawn with PhotoShop’s lasso tool to create a black and white foundation image to work over, plus masks to “keep within the lines”. Using texture brushes I created I could quickly block out a dirty looking bike image over the exiting bike images and silhouette art.”

Two Straw Dogs, just casually drawn with Photoshop’s Lasso tool. Bloody show Harrison!

“Ultimately, despite the digital approach, I still wanted this to look painty. The best artists that work in the computer in my opinion still retain their real world styles in their digital art. You’d probably think how could it be any other way but artists can be swamped by the possibilities; the expanded tool kit.”

“Sometimes you need to pull back from that- keep it loose. I reworked the art closer, not too defined.”

“Keeping it real can be an obsession. After demoing my hybrid art technique on the strip Glimmer Rats at a comic con years ago Dave Gibbons told me how Brian Bolland had phoned him excited to show him some new line art. Dave was bemused to see what the fuss was about – it looked like typically well executed line art by Brian.”

“But Bolland exclaimed that this had been drawn entirely in PhotoShop (and back in the days before customisable brushes ) and he was rightly pleased with the achievement because it looked like he had painstakingly painted it in the real world. But he hadn’t. He had even more painstakingly painted it in the digital world!”

“Get any artist alone to talk technique and we’ll be only to happy to share. Ian Kennedy uses acrylics like watercolours. Michael Golden uses a paintbrush for EVERYTHING and I still don’t believe him because it makes me want to cry!”

“I myself create PhotoShop brushes based on real world “footprints”, paint dabs or ink marks, scanned them into PhotoShop and then attributed dynamics to them to best mimic real world tools.”

“I’ve even written PhotoShop Actions to turn the digitally crisp silhouette selections of the computer into line art that has been subtly displaced by a paper grain texture, to replicate the imperfections and bleed from paper! (Colin Wilson told me that although he used a rule to draw straight lines, he would sometimes give it a little nudge or waiver to make it look hand drawn. I do the computer equivalent!)”

“It’s all about the Art of Freehand; the Noise of Imperfection. The results will probably not even register in print, but along with a film grain overlay it harmonises the art and any disparate elements. Makes it more pleasing to the eye.”

“I also wanted this cover to have a sense of speed about it in the foreground; a frozen moment but the road motion blurred by speed. A kinetic shot with lots of overlaid tracer fire and debris being kicked up; a companion bike had been blown up and these two were emerging thru the flames with a vengeance.”

“To get that speed look I looked back on an old favorite artist of mine growing up and one of the earliest artists to contribute to 2000 AD (on MACH 1); Ian Kennedy.”

“Ian was the first comic book artist I ever collected. (I didn’t collect comic books- I collected artists!) By which I mean I would cut out his pages and keep them, and bin the rest of the comic!” 

To illustrate his point, Mark sent this page of Ian’s work on RoBusters. He says “Why Ian never got to work on anything Gerry Anderson baffles me- he would have been the perfect fit! Collect and reprint the Pat Mills Dan Dare of the revamped Eagle!” 

“Oh my STARS!”

“He did fabulous painted explosions with the characteristic “wheel flying out of them”, be it a Spitfire or racing car, something Frank Bellamy did and also years later in 2000AD Colin Wilson of Rogue Trooper fame.”

Here’s a wonderful Ian Kennedy with flying wheel page which also illustrates the point perfectly…

Fireball? Check! Burning debris? Check! Flying wheel? Check!

“I was lucky enough to meet Ian for the first time earlier this year and the cover is respectfully dedicated to him, a childhood comic artist hero.”

“Ian managed to capture wonderfully with pen and brush the speed of wheels, the tarmac rushing by, the spray being kicked up in rain, and I referenced (copied) that for this cover. I just had to have a wheel flying out of the explosion as an homage! (the placement of which was the hardest part of the cover!)”

Let’s look at how Mark created his dazzling explosion. Below are some of the elements he uses to create mayhem. He says “Showing the various PhotoShop brushes used to create an explosion and their controlling shape dynamics…”


“These are grabbed and tweaked explosion files that served on 3 books of Durham Red and Glimmer Rats. From great explosion films like Independence Day, Star Wars, Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies.”

“Give me the power, of man’s red flower, so I can be like you!”

Mark continues “Building an explosion from an existing grabbed explosion using custom brushes in the layer mask to reveal the explosion and tailor it to the scene. See how the sparks add to the energy. Also dropping on some Baysplosions!”


The all important wheel and debris!

Mark continues “As Ian says- “Copy from the best and your own style will emerge.” I’m still copying, Ian… 😉 “

“Additional art and effects such as muzzle flash and debris being kicked up was dropped on from preexisting art files. This is a technique I was thrilled to see Carlos Ezquerra also used , one of the very first artists to adopt the Mac computer and PhotoShop for comic book art back in the 90’s.”

“Carlos, along with American underground artist Richard Corben were the only two artists using PhotoShop in comics the way I intended to use it on Durham Red. Using real worlds assets, drawings, paintings and then digitally enhancing them later in the computer.”

“If you do the same thing enough times, you can build up a library of art you’ve saved that you can drop on new art again and again, like decals.”

“Carlos had files of bullet impacts on walls and bits of broken concrete that he just copied and pasted on his art. It was an exciting time of discovery and innovation and sharing of techniques. To this day it’s the technique- the process of comic book art I love. I’ll talk an artist to death to know how he does something!”

“The final finesse was a knowing nod to the Michael Bay films and a particular colour palette or “film grade” he applies to his Transformers films, pushing blues and green colours into machinery to be a complimentary contrast with the overly saturated oranges of flesh tones and explosions. This cover had to be Baysplosive!”

And Baysplosive it is! Bring on Savage the Movie!

Mr Embleton will be proud!

As ever, Mark has mocked up his own version of the cover, complete with puntastic strapline…

“That completes this cover! I’m grateful to Tharg, Wiggz and Ian Kennedy for sparing the time to talk to me and inspire me from childhood to now. Thanks guys! Should I grow up and put explosions in their toy box… Nahhh! Every boy loves a good explosion!”

Which brings us to…

KABOOM!!! Explosions Uncovered!!!

So now, Mark talks us through his love affair with all things loud and firey, it’s fascinaitng! He says “I grew up on explosions. Not literally, but loving them in film, TV, comics. What young boy didn’t? Whether it was the opening titles of Thunderbirds (the original- not the explosion-free remake) or the villain’s base blowing up at the end of a Bond movie. I was primed from a young age to appreciate a good bit of pyro!”

“I rated comic artists on how good they did an explosion. Did it have energy, wow-factor? Try and get away with a balloon pop and smoke puff and you weren’t on my radar. Luckily I grew up in a time of great painted art, or line and painted, and that allowed artists like Frank Bellemy, Ron Embleton and Mike Noble to dazzle with stunning layouts and colourful TV action explosions!”

Bellamy BOOMS!

Embleton EXPLODES!

Nobel, erm… NOBLES!

“Amongst that handful of great British comic talent was Ian Kennedy handling the war effort side of comics and becoming my favorite artist of that period.”

“I myself spent far too long trying to perfect my own take on an explosion, especially after seeing Star Wars. In traditional media, acrylic, oil pastel, pencil and airbrushed coloured inks. I cut stencils from cardboard to get a fireball shape.”

“I mean I don’t want to sound too obsessive (too late) but I even started checking out the special effects guys who did the explosions at the end of film credits. I knew if Joe Viskocil was involved I was going to get some nice chunky bitty explosions like in True Lies or Independence Day. (He had his own formula for achieving that effect…)”

“I had a Cinefex on Terminator 2 and I’d stare at the explosions of a couple of Terminator tanks for hours, trying to replicate that look in paint for my strip work in what would be my first (and unpublished comic) Loose Cannons.”

Here is a suitable explosive page of Loose Cannons which can be read here. Mark says “Painted explosions in the unpublished Loose Cannons using acrylics, white pencil and airbrushed coloured inks.”

Loose Women took a turn for the worst (or possibly better.)

“When I went digital, I grabbed explosions from films like Star Wars or Goldeneye (Gun hits: You can’t go wrong with a Derek Meddings explosion). These were actually photographed off the TV if I recall- using a film camera! (God knows what the one hour processing shop thought of my holiday snaps!)”

I had to eliminate the noticeable pixel lines from the TV, adapt them into “explosions files” that served me well through 3 Durham Red books and Glimmer Rats.

But as I transitioned into digital line art from digitally painted art I found the line art for explosions didn’t look right to me, to my cinematic stylings. And a dropped in explosion would stick out like a photo. I was wanting the line art clarity but keeping the light gaseous look of an explosion intact.

Once again I looked to those artists of old and saw they drew in line the “hard bodies”, fragments of the exploded vehicle but let paint describe the billowing plasma.

That was the way to go and so I built PhotoShop brushes that would allow me to tackle the individual elements of the explosion; the sparks, the trailing phosphorus bits, the oily flames and embers.

Here are some of Mark’s brushes below, he says “These are some of my brush footprints; (copy these and you can make your own brushes!) I name all my brushes after the artists that inspire them. i have line brushes named after Olivier Vatine, Eduardo Russo, Walt Simonson, Sergio Toppi, Frank Bellamy (stipple), Mort Drucker and in this case “Basil”. (named after horror Famous Monsters cover artist Basil Gogos!)”

I wrote a custom PhotoShop Action to render the black and white tone art to colour flame that would complete the effect.

The same brushes could create smoke and dust clouds. I had perfected my digitally painted explosion! Now to blow up the World! Artistically of course.

(This artist in no way condones real explosions that hurt people. Just ones that blow up models or sets)

Brilliant stuff! Thank you so much to Mark for sending the hugely entertaining write ups and the glorious images. This is a truly fantastic cover from a brilliant artist. Be sure to check out more of his work here. 

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2000AD Covers Uncovered – Rogue One!

Stak! Ben Willsher blasts through the chem clouds with this absolute monster of a cover! As a long term fan of Rogue, it was a dream come true for Ben and you can see the love on the page, it’s brilliant!

Ben was kind enough to send his thoughts behind the cover and tell us the story behind its conception. He said “This Rogue cover came about when Tharg asked if I’d be interested… Well, I nearly bit his green hand off! I’ve only ever drawn Rogue once before (well, unless you count all those doodles in the back of my Maths prep book (which my teachers never did!)) That illustration was for a poster for an end of year prog – over to P-WLS for some visual reference and Prog number.”

Yes! That’d be Prog 2011, and here is that scrotnig poster…

“You put your firearm in, your firearm out! In! Out! In! Out! And shake it all about!”

 Ben continues “Tharg had a strong idea of what he wanted- That being shot of him racing towards us leaving dead Norts in his wake. I was provided with this lovely black and white Page care of PJ… Holden, not Maybe!”

Just another day at the office for Rogue and the guys.

Ben wanted to fill some pretty big boots and who can blame him? He’s doing a stakking Rogie Trooper cover! “As soon as he suggested this concept, I knew exactly what I wanted to do – I wanted to try and create something that had that same raw energy that Dave Gibbons captured in his classic 1981 cover for Prog 228. Not that I am comparing myself in anyway, you understand, but I really wanted to try and tap into that action Dave so beautifully delivered.”

You’re shooting the wrong way Rogue!

“Where as normally I would do very rough thumbnail sketches and then produce a better quality rough for Tharg to give me either the Quaxxann thumbs up, or a kick in the Galactic groats and told to come back with something new. This time the image being so clear in my head I went straight to this more detailed rough stage. Loosely pencilling first on A4 paper, then going over those outlines with a biro and Marker, with a blue pencil line rough logo to set the layout.”

“Tharg liked it and gave me the go ahead.”

He’s a very Norty Boy!

“I drew the piece on an A3 piece of heavyweight card with black drawing ink.” Good Grud, I’d LOVE to see this in the flesh!

“You can’t catch me, I’m the Genetic Infantryman!”

“Afterwards, I coloured it, and painted in the explosion smoke FX.” 

I’m a huge fan of Ben’s work and his colouring is always amazing. This is his second Toxic Gas cover (see the making of Prog 1768 here: Prog 1768 ) which I think says a lot about him…

Ben continues “As you can see from the Black and white image I discarded the line drawn smoke coming from the Nort’s broken pipe in favour of a more natural looking smoke effect. I also added better Biochips.”

Stak! Rogue’s back! On the Attack! I’m gonna cack!

Huge, huge thanks to Ben for sending the files and write up. I love him to Nu-Earth and back!

P-WLS, October 2016