Monday, 2 March 2015

John Higgins - Many Zarjaz Returns!


It was 38 years ago today, that Thargy told the droids to play! Happy Birthday to the Galaxy's Greatest Comic which reached the dizzy heights of 38 years young last week. Who better to paint the celebratory cover than veteran artdroid and absolute comics legend John Higgins?

John has been a great ambassador for 2000AD over the years, even taking the the stage in sunny Sunderland Con last week to speak enthusiastically about working for the Mighty One. I was lucky enough to chat with him over the weekend and he told me at length how his love for the comics industry and the people within it continues to drive him today.

In a special, highly entertaining 1:1 panel at Sunderland Con, he spoke about his love of the painting process as opposed to working digitally. He said there was nothing better than the feeling the brush on the page, cleaning dirty fingernails and the smell of paint, it's great to hear a man get so much satisfaction out of his job, the lucky git!

Over a pint of Guinness or ten, John told me how he is going to try and engage with Facebook and other social media more often, to share his process with other artists. John gets a huge kick out of collaborating with others and spoke with glee in his 1:1 about how inspired he gets by new artists and how they push him to improve all the time. Facebook friends of John were lucky enough to follow the creation of the cover on social media. From that tricky empty white space phase...

The new Shako graphic novel cover.

To the Rodin's The Thinker phase...

Hmmm, that'll hurt on the way out...

Below are some of John's initial ideas for this cover. As ever, his colour choices are just amazing, as I gushed at length about in his recent Greysuit cover post. First, an up the right nostril shot, hmmmm, I wonder what colour Tharg's snots are...?

That moment when you realise you've followed through...

Next, Tharg seems to be saying "I'll scratch your eyes out, you bitch!"

Tharg visits the Palais de Boing(R)

Then the chosen idea, the classic Detective Columbo "Just one more thing, Mrs Forsythe-Smythe..." shot...

"I'm going... home!"

Back on social media, John gave us a glimpse of the cover as he began the process.

"Expelli-Thargus!"

He took to YouTube to give us a time-lapse recording of the painting process. The photographs were taken by colourist partner Sally Jane Hurst, who's brother wrote the music for the piece...  


So once again, here is the finished painting in all it's zarjaz glory, what a handsome chap Mr Tharg is!  (Phew- that should keep the Rigelion Hotshot away for another couple of weeks!)


Tharg: The Afro Years...
Here's how the prog looks on your shelf. Hats off to the editorial team as that's one of the best strap lines I've read!

It was absolutely pissing down on Betelgeuse...

As a little nostalgia trip (and to make him feel old!) here's John's cover for  the tenth birthday prog TWENTY EIGHT years ago! Blimey, I can remember getting it...

The Great Betelgeusian Cake Off.

A million thanks to John for being so generous with his time and sending the bits and bobs. It's great to meet such a legendary creator who is so excited by what he does.

Happy Birthday Tharg!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Rufus Dayglo - Le Geek, c'est chic!



Yes!!! I'm delighted to welcome Amazing Artdroid and Mega 2000AD fan, Mr Rufus Dayglo back to the blog! I adore this talented artist's work, one of those special artists that can capture the very essence of classic droids' artwork - all the attitude of McMahon, the humour of Hewlett, a touch of Ewins but draw in a voice all of his own!

For Prog 1918, he provided the cover for the return of the Survival Geeks. This humorous series featuring loveable geeks and more SF references than you can shake a lightsabre at made its debut as one of Tharg's 3rillers. The strip was very popular, meaning it has been given it the full series treatment so we can see more madcap adventures of top nerd Simon, genius inventor Clive, stoner Rufus and poor Sam, he girl trapped in the time travelling house with these losers.

Rufus was delighted to illustrate a cover for his mate Neil Goodge, who provides stunning visual for the story. He said "Tharg commissioned me to do this cover for Neil and Gordon's new series. I was sent a couple of reference pages as a guide... so I thought I'd try a spaghetti western approach, with the hero as gunslinger... with comedic scared boys, and disdainful girl unimpressed by the Cthulu horror." The 'hero' of this piece is the sickening Evan; a square-jawed, handsome and capable wish mash of action hero tropes with the emotional intelligence of a brick.

"I pretty much sketched up the first competition that came to my mind, and coloured it roughly for Tharg's approval..." "

"This is my Boomstick!"

"I added a title to see how it'd look and Tharg was happy with it. He even sent me some fresh styrofoam cups to nibble..."
Hmmm, not sure Evan read the instructions properly on his bottle of fake tan...

"BUT at the last moment I realised it need some focal point...and added the tentacles..." As everyone knows, everything is better with tentacles.


Simon and Rufus have had their Ready Brek this morning.

"When I'd finished chewing my way through them, I redrew and tightened up the composition, and coloured it. Originally I was going to colour it 'correctly', but started inverting the colours and err... there you have it."

Yikes! It's suddenly gone cold. I think my blog is haunted!

"I also toyed with having a calamari nightmare Background.... but it was overwhelming....although I kinda like it. Although it does look like someone being sick on the back seat of the bus...."

Aaaaagh! My eyes!!!

Again, Ruf had a go of knocking up a logo on the image...

(Mon) Calamari nightmare - "It's a trap!"

"Don't you chuck, those bloody tentacles, at me!"

And here's how the Prog looks on your shelf!


How many tickles does it take to make a cthulhu laugh? Ten tickles!

So lets have a wander down memory bank to see more unmistakeable Dayglo goodness. Firstly, the inks and painted version of a very Ezquerra-esque Meg 246 as Dredd cleans up Ciudad Barranquilla!

Ride!

"Last one to the parks a tit!"

Next up, inks and paints for the Origins cover of 1512, fab!

Dredd's chestburster in the forthcoming "Dredd vs Aliens vs Cowboys..."

???

 Here's a cracking screen print that Rufus did for Comicdom Con in Greece in 2013, brill!

The Planet Replicas Dredd toilet brush. 

I've always loved this unpublished Cover for Dredd fanzine 'The Class of '79'...

Some Fink wicked this way comes... 

And this great present for my mate Mark Willis...

Faceplate by Anderson - she'd forgot to order milk.

Someone got me in a Secret Santa and got in touch with Rufus who was kind enough to do this brilliant, brilliant picture - I love it! 

Who IS that mystery sniper?

Back in 2005, Rufus organised the Zarjaz exhibition in London where a plethora of artists exhibited 2000AD-based artwork. Rufus came up with this amazing Kano, I bet Brett Ewins was thrilled!

Kano was always taking selfies...

Rufus is synonimous with Tank Girl and has produced some amazing comics featuring our favourite rebel. This Magazine cover for Skidmarks is just gorgeous...

Whacky Racer

Ruf also penned some of the artwork for Lowlife, including Nixon's first meeting with Dredd. Below is a cool Nixon sketch...

Nixon before she started using Oxy 10 acne treatment.

And the cover of Megacity Undercover 2...


Buncha wallies...

Penultimately, a brilliant Dredd image for the forthcoming 2000AD Sketch Book, obviously based on City of the Damned. I can't wait for this!

Should have gone to Specsavers.

HUGE thanks to Rufus for sending these images, especially as he was in the middle of moving to Germany when I got in touch. What a brilliant guy!

Before signing off, I wanted to share Rufus' gorgeous tribute to Brett Ewins who passed away last week. The man himself, surrounded by some of his most iconic characters, lovely...


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Brett Ewins 1955-2015

 
A very sad day today for comicdom as we see the passing of a true legend, Brett Ewins. As a tribute to this visionary artist, I thought I'd share some of my favourite covers, including a few high rez scans for people to pour over.
 
Brett drew his first cover (with long term collaborator Brendan McCarthy) way back in 1977, a Supercover for Prog 33...
 

 
Over the next sixteen years he went on to produce art for 35 prog covers as well as several star scans and reprint titles. He will be fondly remembered for his work on Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Judge Anderson (my first crush!), ABC Warriors and, of course, the amazing Bad Company.
 
Below I'll showcase some of his stunning covers. His amazing eye for design shines through and shows just why he was one of the very, very best.
 
A true visionary.
 
Let's start with some Dredds; while Brett's first Dredd was the classic 'Bring Me the Head of Dredd' in the Day the Law Died saga, his first cover was this cracker for the Apocalypse War...     
 
 The Haunting of Sector House 9 featured some of my favourite Ewins' artwork, including some sublime panel layouts and amazing lawmasters. It also had two brilliant covers...

Brett's way out designs made him the perfect choice to illustrate 'The Wally Squad' in Progs 390-352...
Finally for Dredd, two absolute stonkers. The first, an awesome piece that really epitomises the oppressive nature of Megacity Justice. Long arm of the law indeed!
And this beast of a cover which is just pure, fried genius!

Surely Brett's fantastically creepy work on 'The Haunting of Sector House 9' and 'The DNA Man' made him an absolute shoe in for the excellent Anderson tale 'The Possessed.' Brett's work on this strip was phenomenal, and as I've said before on this blog, gave me my first serious crush. Anderson was hot!

Below we have three covers, the first showing the major players in 'The Possession...'
 Next, Brett's wildly inventive creature designs surround a blood gorgeous Anderson...
Apologies for the quality of this but I had to include it, my favourite Anderson cover ever!
 
 
Also, this beautiful Star Scan... say, is it getting hot in here!?!
 
Of course, Brett worked on several Rogue Trooper strips and produced some great covers. I loved the cover of 323...


However, it's the ridiculous cover of 301 that I was dying to show!



And here's a Star Scan for Major Magnum, do you feel lucky Nort?

Of course, many will remember Brett for his outstanding work on Bad Company. This intelligent, powerhouse of a story featured sublime art and amazing character designs. Below is the first cover of the series, which gives us a startling introduction to our colourful cast...   
Here's hard nut Malcolm who broke his own rule of 'Never getting friendly' with people by sacrificing himself for Danny Franks...
 Some tremendous War Zombies (Malcolm was one of them...)
 Good old Kano...
 Thrax, another nasty bastard...
Sadly, this brings us to the end of this tribute to Brett, a truly talented and well loved creator. Though the artist has gone, he will live on through his incredible body of work for many generations to come.
 
Brett Ewins: The New Masters (1955 - 2015)