Monday 30 November 2009

Carlos Ezquerra - Who the Hell's gonna mess with him?

Gulp! There simply aren't enough superlatives to describe this week's cover artist and the contribution he's made to British comics, particularly our beloved 2000AD. King Carlos Sanchez Ezquerra, co-creator of Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog and countless other fantastic characters, provides the amazing cover for Prog 1664.

The cover, which accompanies the current Dredd Epic, depicts Dredd and his clone brother Rico (2) in an homage to the classic "Who the Hell's Gonna Mess With Us?" final page of the controversial Mega Epic, Judgement Day.

As well as the coloured version above, Carlos was kind enough to send me the inks, which you can see below. I've included a scan of the Judgement Day page just in case any readers haven't seen it, but also because it is one of the most wonderful pages ever printed in the Galaxy's Greatest!

Carlos' British comics career began in the early 1972 (the year I was born!) where he drew strips such as Major Eazy, El Mestzo and The Rat Pack for Battle Picture Weekly. During the development of 2000AD he designed future Lawman Judge Dredd as well as much of the look and feel of Megacity One. A year later he designed the immensely popular characters from Strontium Dog for Starlord comic, which would soon find it's way into the pages of 2000AD.

Since then, Carlos is credited with designing a host of popular characters and strips such as Durham Red, the wonderful Al's Baby, Fiends of the Eastern Front, Bloody Mary, The Rifle Brigade and Just A Pilgrim. Below we can see some of his more famous creations...

Below we have Carlos' first ever 2000AD cover, Prog 4, which shows a minor character from Dan Dare being 'crushed to a dot' by the gravity of Jupiter! Following that we have a painted cover for Prog 118 depicting the popular Strontium Dog strip Journey To Hell. Beneath that is the cover of Prog 124 showing alien assassin Kil-Gor who we learn was sent by the Dictators of Zrag to kill Tharg!

The latter covers both feature Ezquerra's trademark dotted outlines, something fondly remembered that featured heavily in his work for decades!

EDIT - Carlos tells me he didn't do the cover of Prog 4, apologies to all!

Below is a cover for The Stainless Steel Rat. The story was adapted from a set of novels by Harry Harrison and spawned three adventures for the James Coburn-a-like conman, all illustrated by Ezquerra.
There are few 2000AD artists that can boast that they have drawn entire Dredd Mega Epics, however Carlos can claim to have single handedly completed at least a staggering six (The Apocalypse War, Necropolis, Purgatory & Judgement Day, Tenth Planet and Wilderlands, Helter Skelter (minus two episodes) and Origins!) Add to this his numerous mini-epics (Beyond the Call of Duty, Sector House, etc.) and dozens of one off and multi-part stories and you have an amazing body of work...

Below we have an Apocalypse War cover and three covers from Destiny's Angels (the covers are numbered 284, 286 and 288.) It is almost inconceivable today that artist would provide three covers in six weeks as well as fifty pages of strip - wow!

As well as chronicling Dredd's major developments and working on most major 2000AD characters, Carlos has provided almost 2000 pages of Strontium Dog artwork! Below we have Prog 339, possibly my favourite Alpha cover ever, and below that, the shocking cover of Prog 445 from the prelude to The Ragnarok Job, forerunner of the amazing Rage storyline.

In recent years, Carlos has began using computers to colour his work. Below we can compare the painted cover of Prog 799 with the computer coloured version for the Judgement Day graphic novel...

Here's the cover of Prog 1353 from the hilarious Tax Dodge story.
And here we have the prelims and inks from the legendary 'Three Dredds' cover of Prog 1380.

Finally, we have Carlos' latest co-creation, the outrageous Cursed Earth Koburn, a disgraced Judge who inhabits the Cursed Earth getting into all kinds of scrapes. The character is loosely based on Major Eazy, bringing this blog entry full circle!

Great big fanboy thanks to Carlos for sending me the images and making me smile like a loon for an entire weekend and beyond! Long may he reign!

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Mark Harrison - Storming Heaven!

Wow, the beautiful cover of prog 1663! The cover features Uriel the Seraphim burning up on a visit to Heaven. Mark didn't set his long-suffering brother on fire for this one (see here) he actually based the image on an Olympic high diver!

Below we see his wonderful roughs...

Before being treated to a glimpse of Heaven itself...
Here is the image without the flames, Mark explains "The hardest part was showing him on fire. Flames were constantly being added and subtracted, so as not to look insubstantial but not so you lost the character. A happy compromise in the end."
I think this cover is stunning, one of my favourites of the year. Thanks (again!) to Mark for sending me the files!

Sunday 22 November 2009

Neil Roberts -

Thanks once again to Neil (Skinny Elbows) Roberts for his support of the blog. Here are the covers for Progs 1656 and 1659. Above we have the beautiful final Image for 1659 which depicts our favourite future lawman during his exile to the Cursed Earth.

Before we get to that, we have a sketch and final image of Jonny Alpha riding a Mork on the cover of 1656...

Onto 1659, first we have Neil's prelims, of which Tharg preferred number 1...

Here is the 'base render' of the cover. This is a version of the cover made from Neil's extensive library of bits and bobs...
Once the base render is complete, Neil does a 'paintover' where he adds a multitude of special effects, zing and Thrillpower to really bring the image to life!

Neil has a shiny new site at Go there and prepare to be amazed!
Thanks again to Neil for supporting this blog!

Clint Langley - The Axeman Returns

Above is the amazing cover for Prog 1662 by the wonderful Clint Langley. Clint first started his long standing career with 2000AD (and, in particular Pat Mills) in 1994, with the comedic strip Dynosty. This satirical strip, which depicted the royal family as a bunch of dinosaurs, showed Langly as a very complex artist with a incedibly individual sense of style.

Since then, Langley has reinvented himself as the master digital art, wowing us with stunning covers, jaw dropping Slaine artwork and sublime ABC Warriors work. Again, his work is instantly recognisable and mind bogglingly complex! Please visit his site here, to see for yourself!

An exciting bit of site news, Clint has promised me his series of ABC Warriors covers sometime soon, so look out for the Warriors special, coming soon!

Friday 13 November 2009

Mongoose Publishing - The Mega City Archives

Early next year sees the release of Mongoose Publishing's Mega City Archives. These fact-filled books will lift the lid on all aspects of Mega City life from the inner workings of the Justice Department to the diabolical elements of the criminal underworld. Though Mongoose is perhaps best known as a company specialising in role playing games, it's worth noting that these books aren't aimed at the roleplaying market but 2000AD fans in general. They are information tomes in their own right, so no squaxx should be without 'em!

The cover above is by Patrick Reinemann and is for Volume 1: The Justice Department, this will be released in January 2010. The two covers below are for Volume 2: Lawbringers which will explore Dredd and the Justice Dept. and Volume 3: Lawbreakers which looks at our favourite villains of the future. Both covers were by Angga Satriohadi and the books will be released in February and March 2010.

However, if Role Playing is your thing then Mongoose also have released some 2000AD related games. Below we see the fantastic covers for the Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog games by friend of the blog, Neil Roberts. Both covers feature a host of characters from both universes, so have fun playing 'Name That Perp' and 'Spot The Stront!'

Thanks to Will Chapman for sorting me out with the covers and to Mongoose Publishing for giving their kind permission to show them. You can find Mongoose's website here.

Monday 9 November 2009

SB Davis - Sinister Dexter Cover Art

I'm a huge fan of Simon Davis' work and for me the above Sinister Dexter cover for Prog 1661 demonstrates just what an amazing talent he is. The image is so cinematic, if they ever made a Sinister Dexter movie (what do ya mean 'Pulp Fiction!?!) then this could easily be the poster for it! Really wonderful stuff.

Sinister Dexter is certainly one of 2000AD's Marmite strips, with fans seemingly loving or hating it in equal measure. Me, I love it. Like Dredd, it has it's enjoyable one offs but Dan Abnett is fantastic at crafting epic storylines where characters you genuinely care for are put in mortal peril. Add to this his amazing use of puns and faux swearing and you've got a winner!

Simon has been the artist on the strip for many of it's most important arcs including the heartbreaking Eurocrash, Gunshark Vacation, the terrifying ...And Death Shall Have No Dumb Minions as well as several others. His work on such pivotal tales, as well as his very individual take on the characters, has caused many to see him as the definitive Sinister Dexter artist. In fact, he earns the praises of Sin/Dex co-creator David Millgate in this month's Megazine interview.

Below are a range of Simon's excellent covers - the nature of this site means that I have to find many of the images where ever I can so apologies if the quality of some of the images isn't amazing!

First we have the cover of Prog 1225 which shows Finny in action against the Buzzsaw wielding maniac Motosierra in the Man in the Ion Mask story.

This is the cover of Prog 1359 which saw the boys on a mission to rescue an abducted Wendy from the Yakuza clans of Magnapore.
The next two covers are from the Slow Train To Kal Cutter story which featured the Sinister and Dexter's protege Kal Cutter's action-packed escape from Download aboard the Suleiman Express...
Next up, two covers from the fantastic ...And Death Shall Have No Dumb Minions storyline. This shocking arc had huge repercussions for many of the cast members as well as re-introducing a very old fellon...Following the events of Dumb Minions and Malone, we see a pissed off Finnigan returning to Download for a large dose of holy retribution for the many have wronged him. This leads him to The Nigel and Millicent Feasey State Penitentiary where he hatches an ingenius plan to spring a very special inmate...

Finally an absolutely wonderful cover from the Life is an Open Casket, a story which sees our boys almost back to normal, albeit in a very different Download...
See here for more Simon Davis covers!