Saturday, 19 April 2014

2014 Easter Special - Ben Willsher's 2013 Christmas Prog!

Merry Christma... I mean Happy Easter! Following a disaster at the Trans-Time Corporation, Ben Willsher's zarjaz cover for the Christmas Special was sucked into a wormhole, sent to Halloween, rerouted to Valentine's Day via Mother's Day before being passed on to Pancake Tuesday. Fortunately, crack time commandos were able to retrieve the errant cover and deliver it to Covers Uncovered HQ in time for Easter - Phew!

Regular readers will know that Ben is one of my very favourite artists (my obsession borders on the creepy) so I was delighted when I found out he had been chosen to bring us the prestigious end of year special. He certainly didn't disappoint, so without further ado, here's Ben to give us the lowdown...

"Tharg had asked for a 'cosmic' image of himself that was in a similar painterly style to my close up Dredd head of prog 1802"

A stone cold classic and my favourite cover of 2012...

"Any questions creep?"

Ben continues "I wanted to include some of the characters that would also appear in the end of year prog. I first toyed with the idea of maybe being able to see the characters from within the Rosette of Sirius itself, but there was something that just didn't feel right having them trapped, or held prisoner within the TMO's bonce... So it was back to the drawing board."

Hmmm, I'm sure a good psychiatrist would have a field day with this image...

"I roughed out some more images and felt much happier with the idea of the them being blasted out of of the Rosette instead. I was also conscious that this way even if the Prog got stuck at the back behind other publications on the magazine racks, you would still be able to see the main protagonists."

Hmmmm, not if that nutcase in Kent was in the shop...

That's what it looks like when Tharg gets a migraine. 

"Then Tharg Okayed the revised rough..."

The Tharg's Head attraction was a big hit in the Palais De Boing (R)

"I set about painting the real thing. I was keen that my image of Tharg had the traditional look, with his long upper lip and philtrum."

Ben included some of his reference pictures of the Mighty One, long philtrum and all (of course I knew what a philtrum was and didn't have to google it at all...)

A rare photograph of the Mighty One

A portrait by Carlos Ezquerra

A profile shot of the modest one

With his experience of the future, Tharg always has the latest tech...

"The art itself was drawn in two parts. The Face of Tharg was painted directly in photoshop with a cintiq (blody show off - Pete) and the characters were hand drawn traditionally, then coloured . I really wanted to make sure that both elements looked different from one another, so that the characters looked artificial as if they really were constructs from Tharg's imagination!"


"Oi Ro-Jaws you nerk! You forgot the 'Wet Floor' sign again!"

"Finally I merged the two images and added extra FX"

"Tharg, you've got your full beams on!"

And that's how the Christmas cover was made! Galloping great thank you's to Ben for his prompt(!) sending of the images! Just joking folks, Ben had sent 'em, they'd just got stuck in his inbox, which sounds very painful. All that's left to to wish you all a Merry Christmas, I those that Santa brings you lots of erm... chocolate eggs!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Ben Willsher - Crash! Bang! Wallop!

Crash! Bang! Wallop! What a picture, what a motorbike! Ben Willsher, king of Lawmanster porn, makes it a VERY Good Friday by sending the fantastic images from his smashing cover of Prog 1877. I'm a huge fan of Ben's and he really is one of the most exciting artidroids working on Dredd today. He's a huge fan of the character too with an in-depth knowledge of the character and his world so you'll always find little Easter Eggs and bonus bits in his work. This image, for example, is inspired by a seminal panel from Dredd's very first (unpublished) strip, can you guess? The answer follows shortly...

Over to Ben to tell us about this beauty - "This cover came with a simple request request from Tharg- "Dramatic image of Dredd on Lawmaster, shooting at reader..." That was enough to get my art circuits whirring."

"I wanted something striking and bold and thought that maybe Dredd smashing through a window would hit that target. I remember how stunning Carlos' very first image of Dredd was in the unpublished story BANK RAID..."

Did you get it? Bank Raid was the first ever Dredd strip which was considered too violent to be published (Dredd blasting a jay walker!?!) Written by John Wagner and Pat Mills it featured beautiful artwork by Carlos Ezquerra, including this fateful shot which would be cheekily recycled and used in Dredd's first published tale, Judge Whitey, much to the chagrin of Dredd's creator...

Where it all began...

Hmmm, looks familiar...

Ben continues "Lots of smashing glass wasn't enough make it as dramatic as I wanted, so I added the reflected image of the victim being shot as way of telling a whole story, and that Dredd's Standard Ex had found its target. I drew up a rough... "

Nuts! I thought the mouths were a clever reflection (no pun intended) on the clandestine nature of the current Dredd story 'Mega-City Confidential.'

Buy Megarest Double Glazing Plastiglass - so tough only Dredd can smash it.

"Once Tharg had approved it, I started on the finished inks. Over all I was pleased with the initial rough, but felt that with some tweaking here and there to adjust the scaling (Dredd was far too big, and the front of the Lawmaster was far too small) it would be much closer to the final image I wanted to achieve."

Dredd gets smashed

"Next was the overlay for the screaming mouths..."

Say aaaaaaaagh!

"Then it was onto the colouring stage. I always knew I would add extra shards of glass whilst colouring, but as you'll see the background changes at the top from the Black and White to Coloured image, as I felt the cracked glass FX didn't have enough impact, so more shattering glass was added in post production (as they say.)"

 Knock knock jokes are wasted on Dredd

And here's how the Prog appears in Tharg's Future Shop, fantastic!

"Dredd smash!"

Giant sized thank you's to Ben for sending the images. There will be another Ben Willsher special on Easter Sunday, come back then to find out more...

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Simon Fraser - Hung Jury!

Sniff! No stranger at tugging at our heartstrings, Simon Fraser delivers this emotional shocker as Dredd cradles the corpse of the recently deceased Judge Anderson in his arms. I absolutely love this, it's such a departure from Si's usual style, the grittiness and muted colours match the subject matter absolutely perfectly. 

As regular Megazine readers will know, poor Anderson has been plagued by morbid, suicidal thoughts of late. Is it trauma linked to her current case, the weight of suffering from the victims of the Day of Chaos or something more sinister altogether?

Michael Dowling is doing a wonderful job on the interior art and I think Simon has complimented him perfectly. Here's the shocking final page from last months Meg which shows Anderson being a damned fool!

Oh Anderson!

This can't have been an easy cover to tackle, let's see how Simon took it on...

"So here are the first 2 sketches I did for the cover. They were more hanging-centric. Then Tharg suggested that we do Dredd exiting the building with Anderson's body, which was a brilliant idea as it gives us so much more emotional resonance (and it echoes the Rico death scene by McMahon.)" 


Who's are those eyes then?

Here's a reminder of that classic McMahon panel to stop you Googling!

Dredd always brought props to the sector house Karaoke nights...

Right, here's where it gets tricky, over to Si... 

"Here's the pencil rough, then the full pencil version which I did an ink 'holding line' over. I then composited the pencil and the inkline together so as to keep the pencil texture grittiness." 

"She-she ain't heavy, she's my colleague!" 

True grit... 

Si's composite image

"The colouring was all about keeping the gravity of the black and white image, by adding very muted colour and keeping a very high contrast. It printed darker than I expected, but that actually worked out well as it makes the image that much heavier. Unfortunately the other background judges don't show up much in the final cover crop.

That's the reason this blog exists Mr F!

 Si's stunning use of colour, who needs Gary Caldwell eh?

The cover with logos and Mills inspired tagline

And Simon's last words "I'm happy with this cover. It let me experiment a bit and had a good bit of iconic power." We're happy too, truly a classic image that I reckon we're going to see again and again.

Thanks to Si for sending the images amazing images, it's great to see him back in the house of Tharg. Check out his newly updated site here!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Alex Ronald - Jumping the Sharks!

Gruff voice on... "Coming this summer... from producer Michael Bay... starring Jamie Foxx and Kurt Russell...  get ready for... Sinister Dexter and the Bunch of Cults."

What a funting smashing (ha!) cover by Alex Ronald! I'm delighted to see the Vampire Vixens of the Wehrmacht artist back on my Prog following his outstanding Ulysses Sweet cover a few progs ago. Great to see him tackling Ramone and Finny too, he's really brought the pair to life.

This is a  fantastically cinematic image from the artist sums up the strip perfectly. This was certainly the intention, Alex seeped himself in film nostalgia to construct the cover and included several movie reference images that he used for the cover, saying "All those teenage years watching crappy action flicks wasn't for nothing after all!"

Butch and Sundance! 



Wallowing in such classic movie nostalgia led to this rough black and white sketch (rough being Alex's words, not mine) showing the pair erm... stealthily infiltrating the compound of The Pastoral Collective of Generica.

Disclaimer: Contents of the cover may not reflect story inside!

And here's the final image again, which is just amazing! I'm a massive, massive fan of Alex's work and would love to see him tackling another Dredd cover (please Mr Tharg?)


Here's how the prog looks on the shelves. Liking the glass effect logo a lot! A cool cover this which gave me a real 'wow' moment when I first saw it...

Crash! Bang! Wallop! What a picture, what a photograph!

As an exclusive bonus, I'd like to share the story behind as well as a wonderful alternative version of Alex's homage to Brett Ewins' cover of 475 (as shown in the Ulysses Sweet post...)

The story behind the cover is that he and fellow artist Flint Lockjaw (I'm sure you'll have heard his big gob on the brilliant Everything Comes Back to 2000AD podcast) decided to do an art swap. The pair are mutual fans of each other's work - Flint works in animation and is responsible for the animation of Mrs Brown's Boys as well as working on Don Bluth's Anastasia and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Flint is currently at the helm of the very exciting Dredd Project too. The pair decided to take the cheesecake/Grindhouse approach to Anderson and swap art. Below is fantastic Alex's version...

Check out the credits for some familiar names - cunning stunts? The cheek! 

Here's Flint proudly showing off his print. There's only two of these in the world and I am lucky enough to own the other, thanks to Mr Lockjaw!

Here is the man you've no doubt shout at on your iPod!

Here's Flint's side of the deal which absolutely hilarious! Firstly the pencils...

Phwooor, that sssssstinks!

And the brilliant inked version...

Stench Be Gone - Does exactly what it says on the tin!

Alex is a lovely fella, always very supportive of new talent on the 2000AD message board and has contributed stunning, print quality imagesto the annual advent calendar without fail! Here are his previous contributions starting with 2011's festive Flesh... 

Wishing you a merry Fleshtive season. Can't beat a bit of Cava at Christmas...

2012's terrifying Torquemada...

You really don't want to get on his naughty list! 

And 2013's Dredd, wow! Did I say I'd love another Dredd cover Thargy?

Dredd goes to Des O'Connor?

 Giant thanks to Alex (and Flint!) for sending the images and for being all round smashing fellas!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Karl Richardson - Better Caul Karl!

After designing the dazzling visuals of Grey Area, it must have been a no brainer for Tharg to command Karl Richardson to dream up entirely new worlds for his latest thrill, Outlier.

The strip follows a murder investigation by Carcer, a ex-cop turned private investigator. Following a gruesome encounter with a mysterious alien race known as the Hurde, Carcer has artificial eyes which allow him to see beyond the visible spectrum. A handy trait of a private eye!

Two murder victims, the murderer and Carcer's own client all have links to 'The Outlier,' a mysterious scavenger ship. What will Carcer discover about this ill-fated vessel?

The cover gives us our first full glimpse of Caul, the villain of the piece. This super-human murderer has had a run in with The Hurde who have altered his suit and physiology. Those wicked tendrils are an extension of his suit and are about to dismember another unfortunate victim...

Below are Karl's fantastically grizzly pencils...

Gimme five brother!

Next up, those glorious inks.
Oooh dearie, that's a nice, long life line you've got there, I can see a marriage line but your Ring of Solomon could be better...

Karl makes a start on the colouring, hmmmm, a more human looking Caul...

Tentacles of Doom

And the mean and moody finished image! The last thing Drexy saw before his bloody death!

Frankie, Doc, Joanne, Lil' Bill, J.R., Boomer and Caul.

I'm really enjoying this strip. The visuals are stunning and I'm getting a real Sherlock/Hannibal vibe from the script. I wonder how the Outlier mission ties into the mystery and who the hell are the Hurde?

Here's how the cover looks in your newsagent, tasty!

Mega thanks to Karl for sending the images, magnificent work as ever!