Wednesday 26 August 2009

Carl Critchlow - Man of Granite!

One of the many, many wonderful things about reading 2000AD is seeing the hottest UK talent evolve and grow and sometimes, completely change direction! A fine example of an artist who simply refused to let his considerable talents stagnate is Carl Critchlow.

After making a name for himself writing and illustrating Thrud the Barbarian for (amongst others) White Dwarf magazine, Carl brought his fully painted style of art to 2000AD with Nemesis & Deadlock back in 1991.

This was followed by the obligatory Future Shocks as well as a reboot of Flesh and the sublime Son of Mean Machine, among others. These strips led to the third high-profile Dredd vs. Batman team up, The Ultimate Riddle in 1995, but also helped pigeonhole Carl into the “painted artwork” artist category.

An early Critchlow cover for the Nemesis & Deadlock story in Prog 728:

Around this time, Carl wanted to explore using the computer to write, draw, colour and letter this artwork. He decided return to his beloved Thrud character to hone a radical new style in a self-published comic. The fruits of his labours certainly paid off with the Thrud the Barbarian comic winning the prestigious Eagle Award for “Favourite British Small Press Title” in 2004.

Carl’s uncompromising new style hit 2000AD in Prog 1313 with the fantastic Judge Dredd tale ‘Out of the Undercity’ which saw the return of a fan favourite, the grim Judge Prager. Following this, Critchlow teamed up with Si Spurriur to create grizzled torturer for hire, Lobster Random – a character who’s grotesque, craggy features epitomise Critchlow’s wonderful, granite-like style.

Here we have designs for the Lobster Random cover for 'The Agony and the Ecstacy' in Prog 1482:

As well as inks:
And the coloured version:

Most recently, Carl has returned to Dredd, illustrating classics such as Mandroid 2, as well as the shocking events of the Judge Dredd stories Backlash and Under New Management. For me, these stories are so notable as Carl has skilfully managed to ooze emotion from his granite-like cast, simply amazing!

Finally we have the fantastic cover of Prog 1593. Originally intended to be a Megazine cover, the image suited the Judge Dredd story 'The Edgar Case' perfectly and was used for that instead...
Here's the roughs:

The inks:
And the amazing coloured version - a masterclass in computer colouring in my opinion.

A HUGE thanks to Carl for sending me the images! Please visit Carl’s site here and the official Thrud site here.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Prog 1650 - Nice Planet, I'll Take It!

2000 hits it's 1650th issue this week with a blinding 'Jumping On' issue. Contained within the scrotnig Chris Weston cover (thanks Chris!) above is a heartbreaking start to the latest Judge Dredd epic 'Tour of Duty' as well as action packed, double-length episodes of Shakara and Kingdom. To celebrate we have a selection of covers from all strips and artists.

Let's start with Dredd, which is illustrated by a modern day legend, Colin MacNeil. The story continues to focus on the Mutant Issue, which Colin has already contributed many episodes. The tale co-stars Judge Beaney, the daughter of Bennet and America Beaney from, in my opinion, the greatest Judge Dredd story ever told, America (also beautifully illustrated by MacNeil.)

Below there are a section of covers from this beautiful tale, as well as the superb cover of prog 1488, just because I love it!

Next we have Shakara by Henry Flint and Robbie Morrison. Shakara is a mysterious liquid being encased in a kick-ass suit who seeks vengeance on a host of alien nasties. Over the course of three books it has become apparent that Shakara is the instrument of vengeance of a long dead alien civilisation of the same name.
All of this is a fine excuse for some cracking scripts from Morrison and amazingly deranged art from Flint. Wonderful stuff! Below are the covers of Prog 1441 and the Shakara Graphic Novel.

Finally, there's part one of Kingdom: Call of the Wild by Dan Abnett and Richard Elson. Below we have inks and colours for all of Elson's Kingdom covers to date. Huge thanks to Richard and RAC for these beautiful covers!

The story focuses on Gene the Hackman, a genetically modified dog soldier who was bred to fight a race of insectoid horrors known only as 'Them', on a ravaged planet earth.

We'll start with the inks for prog 1570, not there's two versions of this cover. Richard explains "I decided to change the hand after scanning; the angle of it spoiled the momentum of the action."
Inks 1:
Edited version:
Beatiful coloured version:
Prog 1574 inks:
And coloured, wow!

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Under New Management by Simon Parr

Proudly presenting the magnificent cover to Prog 1649. A brilliant cover to match an amazing episode of Dredd (I won't say anymore as I'd hate to spoil it for those that haven't read it yet!)

This superb image, by Head Design Droid Simon Parr (or PYE-01 to give him his real name,) is bursting with little fantastic little details to make us Dreddheads jump for joy - the obligatory Chopper graffiti, "Sumps", Manta Tanks, distant block wars, knackered weather control and a very grumpy looking Dredd. Just wonderful!

As the sun rises on a momentous day for the Justice Dept, we see an ominous sign above the Halls of Justice - 'Under New Management', heralding the beginning of Dan Francisco's tenure as Chief Judge. Yikes, what's going to happen to Dredd, Hershey and all those poor mutants?

Super helpful droid Pye was kind enough to send me the roughs and pencils for this image too, as well as an insight into how it was created. First, the roughs:
Pye says: "You can see from the rough how the cover changed from idea to final version. I wanted to add a figure in to stop it being TOO inanimate, and we moved the hover board over the top of the justice dept building to make it clearer what it was referring to.

Initially the idea was totally different. Matt wanted to have a really close up pic of a sign hanging from some string or chain or whatever wrapped round some ornate Eagley-sculpted justice dept door handles with UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT written on it.

I did some cool door handles too but we sacked that off in the end, as it wasn’t immediately obvious what the hell they were... And I was loath to put something so obvious as a keyhole underneath to try and get the point across (like the base of an all powerful military dictatorship with hover tanks, flying cars and guns with fingerprint recognition in them would still use keys!)"

Once the idea was nailed, Pye produced the fantastic pencils below then used pure Thrill Power to colour the final image (above):

I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to Pye as he's been more than generous in sending many covers (keep checking back folks!) and for taking the time to talk us though the creation of this Mega-City masterpiece. He also sent a full sized copy of this little beauty below, which is currently part of a place holder on the current site, enjoy:

Thursday 13 August 2009

Leigh Gallagher - Defoe 1666

You could do a lot worse than to spend some time at Defoe artist Leigh Gallagher's fantastic blog (you'll find it here.) It's an absolute treasure trove of goodness with wonderful 'How to's' on each of his fantastic covers complete with prelims, pencils, inks, reference photos and more - sheesh!

Above is the cover of the Defoe 1666 graphic novel (buy it cheap here) and there's a typically excellent walkthrough of how Leigh 'made' the cover on his blog.

Below are all of Leigh's 2000AD covers to date and again, each has it's own 'how to' on his blog. A huge thanks to him for sharing them, and for the little glimpses of life in Tharg's Nerve Centre!

Sunday 9 August 2009

The 'Tony Lee Raise The Glass Award' goes to...

Jon Davis-Hunt! Here we have all of Jon's superb 2000AD and Megazine covers to date. Above we see an evil 'Snake' from the controversial Stalag 666 strip. Stalag was a refreshingly unpretentious tale of a POW camp in space, overtly using classic films such as 'The Great Escape' as its inspiration. However, one sad gluebag took such exception to the script that he sent a bag of poop to it's poor writer Tony Lee! Whatever anyone thought of the script, I'm sure everyone enjoyed the terrific artwork!

Below we see the inks for Jon's Dredd cover of Prog 1630 then his amazing computer coloured version, definitely one of Jon's strengths...

Finally, we have both covers from Jon's signature Megazine strip Tempest. This fantastic story, written by Al Ewing, ran in the Judge Dredd Megazine from issues 266 to 271 and showcased Jon's superb graphic style. The story followed Tempest, a renegade judge (or was he?) and conman Jonny Kierkegaard Largely through an adventure in the creepy Undercity beneath Mega City One. Jon was able to thrill us with plagues of rabid rats, zombies with monitors for heads and, of course, tribes of hungry Troggies! Jon is currently hard at work on the sequel to Tempest and I for one can't wait!

Please visit Jon's site here to see more!

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Karl Richardson - Bye Bye Big Ben!

Karl Richardson is not only responsible for the superb artwork in the current Dredd strip 'Rehab' but he's given us some astounding covers in the past. Above we see the awesome cover Prog 1534 for the story Detonator X. It's covers like that that me me proud to be a 2000AD reader! Please click it and take a while to check out the wonderfully rendered destruction of Big Ben as this was cruelly covered up in the final version of the cover (see below) - shame on you Tharg!

Next we have an absolute favourite of mine, Prog 1579. These dudes are The Fargoes, distant cousins of Joe Dredd himself. We met these guys during the Origins epic and again in the Regrets... tale. Many feel they may be relevant when Dredd finally hangs up his tight boots (sob!)

A beatuiful Defoe cover from Prog 1597 - your everyday tale of a 17th Century hard case blowing a zombie's brains out with a modified Flintlock!

Finally, the cover for Breathing Space from Prog 1457. This was a mystery tale set on Luna City One, the ending of which still has me flumoxed!

Thanks to Karl for sending me these fine, fine covers, especially as he was on his holidays at the time. What a guy!

Saturday 1 August 2009

Dredd - The Chin Is In!

Huge thanks (once again!) to Nick Percival who has sent me this week's amazing 2000AD cover! This masterpiece goes with Al Ewing and Karl Richardson's hilarious Dredd tale 'Rehab', which, in my humble opinion, is one of the funniest Dredd strips in years.

For this cover, Nick was asked to use Mike Collins' cover of prog 530 (see original artwork below - thanks to Mark Willis for that!) as a guide.

Both of these covers put me in mind of King Carlos Ezquerra's Judge Dredd Necropolis themed Epics card of yesteryear. Masterpieces all!

S B Davis - Adventures in (White) Space!

Behold, the Zarjaz cover of Prog 1646 by the ever-wonderful Simon Davis. Okay, I’ll come clean, I cheated a bit with this one! I wrote to the talented Mr Davis asking for a scan and he sent a lovely reply informing me that he’s 'a bit of a luddite' who doesn’t scan his work.

So, dear reader, the image you’re looking at is simply a Photoshopped version of the comic cover. I fairly certain however, that it’s a faithful re-creation of the original as Mr Davis does seem to have the uncanny knack of producing some extremely eye-catching covers, using ‘white space’ to maximum effect. So, the rest of this blog entry will be dedicated to showcasing some of Simon’s magnificent white space covers, with a bonus Frazer Irving at the end to make up for my dishonesty with the 1646 cover!

Oh, one more thing, as well as an amazing comic artist, Simon is a prize winning portrait painter. His work is absolutely breathtaking, please take the time to have a look at some beautiful examples here and here.

Lets kick off with Prog 1553's Stone Island cover featuring Sorrel's re-animated corpse, yuck!

Followed by a couple of covers from John Smith's Dead Eyes:

In this cover, Judge Dredd 'brains' a member of the Branch Moronian Cult from prog 1283:

Here we see a guilty looking Ramone Dexter from Sinister Dexter (a strip which many would argue Mr Davis is the definitive artist of) from the superb 'And Death Shall Have No Dumb Minions' storyline.

Finally, the 'Duck and Cover' cover from Si Spurriur's Black Atlantic story in the Megazine.

As promised, here is that cracking Frazer Irving Marauder cover, which again uses white space to make the image really grab you by the (eye)balls!