Saturday 30 January 2010

Prog 1670 - Volkhan's Warriors!

Yet another amazing Clint Langley cover, this time showcasing Volkhan and his evil Mechanoids. Does this man ever sleep? The design work on the anti-warriors is simply breathtaking, they make for a terrifying motley crew! I can't wait to see the ABC's put them in their place!

All of Clint's other ABC covers can be seen here and his fantastic website is here.

Thanks to Clint for sending the cover!

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Catching up - 1666 and 1668!

A double cover post this week to enable me to catch up after a hectic start to the year. Above we have the first cover of 2010, the wonderful Ampney Crucis Investigates by friend of the blog, Simon Davis. This story tells of an upper class gent who was driven insane by an otherworldly encounter in no man's land during World War One. Having partially recovered, Ampney is now in tune with elements not of this universe and together with his faithful butler Eddie Cromwell, investigates inexplicable goings on in our realm...

This is the second cover that Simon has painted for this character, the first is shown below. Again, Simon has stuck to that wonderful design and I look forward to seeing variations of it in future.

I couldn't resist putting the two images together, absolutely beautiful...
Idle Speculation! As we know, Simon is an award winning portrait artist. It has been noted that Eddie, the loyal butler, bears a striking resemblance to a certain artist. Could this really be a case of 'the butler did it?'
Coincidentally, this brings us to another encounter in no man's land, courtesy of the wonderful Karl Richardson. Karl provided this atmospheric cover for Prog 1668 which depicts Nikolai Dante and Tsar Vladimir the Conqueror in tense negotiations during the current story arc, Hero of the Revolution. Superb stuff!
Finally, here is a 'sketch' that Karl kindly did for the 2000AD message board Advent Calendar. It's so good I had to include it on the blog!

Thanks to Karl and Simon Parr for the images!

Monday 18 January 2010

Finally, the 2000AD Messageboard Top 5 Covers of 2009!

This was supposed to be my first post of 2010 but real life got in the way, sorry folks!

The wonderful guys over at 2000AD online had a vote on the best cover of 2009. It was agonisingly difficult which shows just how high the standards have been in terms of cover images this year.

Here we go then, in reverse order. In joint 5th place we have Prog 1643, Defoe's Zombie Babies by the ever wonderful Leigh Gallagher. You can read in full how he made the cover on his blog here and below I've posted the idea, superb reference pic, roughs, pencils, inks and final coloured image. Wonderful stuff!
"I am woman, hear me roar!"
Love the 'Killing Zombies Since 1666' inscription on the cleaver...

The colours on the final image are wonderful. While they looked good on the printed image, they really come to life on the computer screen!
Sharing the honors for fifth place was Prog 1641's double-page 'Stormfront' cover for Savage, by the superb Patrick Goddard. Certainly the cover we were all hoping for, I think Patrick outdid himself with this wonderful image. The great covers feature in Prog 2010 showed us thumbnails of some of Patricks initial ideas...
I apologise for my terrible join in the inks below, I did my best!
Finally, the breathtaking finished version coloured superdroid Chris Blythe.
In fourth place we have our second zombie cover, Henry Flint's Prog 1634 featuring everyone's favourite new character of 2009, Zombo! Just check out that red posing pouch!
The cover in third place was the creepy Cradlegrave hoodies of Prog 1633 by Edmund Bagwell. John Smith, writer of this unsettling series is also a fan of the cover, calling it "a piece of bloody genius!" He goes on to say "I'd love to see 2000AD do hooded tops with it on - can you imagine hoodies in the streets wearing THAT top? It'd be like a recursive reflection of a reflection..."
Just missing out on top spot was Carlos Ezquerra's take on the classic 'Who's Gonna Mess With Us?' final page of Judgement Day. This iconic image adorning the cover of Prog 1664 features Dredd and Rico during their exile in the Cursed Earth, stirring stuff indeed!

Finally, and perhaps fittingly, is the genius that is D'Israeli's Stained Glass Window style Low Life cover of Prog 1631. I'm particularly pleased that this was named as the winner as Matt, in his phenominal blog, states that it was a real team effort between him, Matt Smith and super supporter of this blog, Simon Parr. You can read Matt's thoughts on the cover here.

Hearty congratulations to D'Israeli!
I'm sure you'll agree 2009 was certainly a vintage year for covers , let's hope that 2010 can live up to it. As I'm sure winner D'Israeli would agree, with the prog in such safe hands, the chances are it will!

Sunday 17 January 2010

The Dragon Granddaughter of the Fighting Heart!

Way back in Prog 484 (August 1984) Dredd had the stomm kicked out of him by a Martial Artist from the Radlands of Ji, known as Stan Lee. Three years later, the assassin returned to Mega-City One and Dredd finally got revenge, humiliating him live on Tri-D (Mega-City TV.)

This angered the 'Fighting Heart' Kwoon, the school that instructed Stan Lee, so they trained a new warrior to kill the law man and give the school back it's honour. This warrior was called Wu Wang, a young, female warrior also known as Dragon Daughter! The assassin was successful in abducting and torturing Dredd, but was bested by him when trying to get him to apologise for his crimes, before she would kill him. Obviously, this girl didn't read comics!

Fast forward to the present and over in the Megazine, the daughter of Wu Wang and Stan Lee is in town to rescue her father from the cubes and avenge the death of her mother. She has enlisted the help of Tempest, former crime kingpin, to help her navigate the Undercity so that she can bust in to Mega-City One's most notorious cubes, Iso-Block 666!

Tempest artist Jon Davis-Hunt was kind enough to send me these superb images showing how he constructed the zarjaz cover of Megazine 293. First the roughs...
Then the inks...
Blimey, they're ace! Next, Jon begins to colour and shade the piece...

Before giving it some zip by adding effects in Photoshop!
Thanks to Jon for sending these beautiful images, please visit his site here for more!

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Clint Langley ABC Warriors Special!

ABC Warriors is one of 2000AD’s most popular and long running strips, having started in Prog 119 way back in June 1979. However, some characters predate this as they featured in the Ro-Busters stories of 2000AD sister publication Starlord, which begun a year earlier.

The story centres around the khaotic adventures of a group of (usually) seven hardy robots designed to withstand Atomic, Bacterial and Chemical attack.

The roster of artists who have worked on the saga is pretty much a who’s who of British comics – original designs were provided by Kev O’Neill, Mick McMahon, Brett Ewins and Brendan McCarthy and giants such as Dave Gibbons, Simon Bisley, Carlos Ezquerra, Henry Flint and Kev Walker among others have since added their mark. The most recent artdroid to tackle the group is Clint Langley, a remarkable talent who’s digital artistry is, in my opinion, untouchable.

Clint, who also provides the breathtaking art for Slaine, began working on the strip in Prog 1518 back in January 2007. This was the beginning of ‘The Volgan War’ series of books which see the Warriors back on the planet Mars preparing to rescue a special forces comrade known as Zippo from execution. Through a series of dazzlingly illustrated flashback sequences, we see how each of the Warriors have at some point in their past encountered the dashing droid!

During this series, Clint has provided a series of outstanding covers depicting each of the warriors. Among other things, it was my desire to see these actual covers without the text and logos that inspired me to create this blog, meaning that this blog entry is particularly special to me! Thanks Clint!

Above we saw Hammerstein, the heroic leader of the Warriors, with all cannons blazing during the Voglan war. Hammerstein is a war robot of honour with a strong moral compass that the others in his group often deride and, in some cases, despise.

Below is Mongrol, the huge, ape-like Paratrooper droid of the ABCs. His frame is made up of the body parts of other droids after he was mostly destroyed in the Battle of Zarnhem (hence the name ‘Mongrol.’) His hulking body was built by a young female scavenger called Lara who was executed shortly after his reactivation. Mongrol has deep feelings for Lara and will 'smush' anyone or anything who dares sully her memory!
Next up is the galaxy’s coolest and deadliest hit erm… droid, Joe Pineapples. Ice-cold Joe is so accurate with a weapon that he can ricochet a bullet to kill two planet-based targets from high orbit! However, beneath his super cool exterior lies a robot in turmoil. He keeps a human heart in his chest locker and, following a nervous breakdown, has taken to cross-dressing. The beautiful cover below shows Joe’s assassination attempt on Volkhan, leader of the Volgan robotic forces…
Next up is the traitorous Blackblood! Ex-Volgan robot and leader of the infamous Straw Dogs, Blackblood is rumoured to have drank the blood of fallen ABC Warriors during the Volgan War. Though reprogrammed (as far as he could possibly be) to be an ABC Warrior, Blackblood has a turbulent past with the group, openly despising several members (particularly Joe) and betraying them on several occasions…
This is the mysterious Deadlock, spiritual leader of the Warriors. Deadlock is a follower of the Khaos religion which often leads to conflict with the honourable and noble sensibilities of Hammerstein. He is also a Grand Wizard of the Knights Martial, possessing magical powers and psychic abilities which have got the warriors out of many difficult scrapes…
Dim-witted and very dangerous, Mek-Quake is a demolition droid with a penchant for destruction, or ‘Big Jobs’ as he calls it. Feeling betrayed by the warriors, the brainless droid has recently absconded from Broadband Asylum (where he was admitted by his fellow warriors) and has joined forces with Volgan leader Volkhan, probably to do some ‘Big Jobs’ on his former comrades…
Steelhorn has a complicated and very tragic back story. Once an elite droid made from almost indestructible alloy, Steelhorn eventually ended up in a fusion furnace that was being used to destroy superfluous ABC Warriors after the Volgan War. Reduced to a bubbling mess, Steelhorn swore vengeance on the human race for their despicable treatment of his fellow droids.

Eventually ending up on Mars, he was allied with Medusa, the consciousness of the Red Planet which shared his hatred of human kind. After tussling with the warriors, Steelhorn struck up a deal to forge a peaceful coexistence between humans and Martians on the planet before taking his place with the ABCs again.

Following (yet another!) destruction of his body, this time by the fearsome mercenary droids known as the Shadow Warriors, Steelhorn was brought back to life by Deadlock, sporting a new diamond-formed body.
This is Zippo, a special forces droid who we find out has encountered each of the Warriors in the dim and distant past. Now a renegade graffiti artist on Mars known as Z, Zippo has been captured and almost executed by government for inciting the population…
Prog 1616 showcased Volkhan’s comrades following his escape with Mek-Quake from Broadband Asylum. Note the clever inclusion of a traitorous shadow at the bottom of this cover…
Finally for this set of covers we have Ro-Jaws, recently re-united with his ABC mates! This disgusting sewer-droid has found very appropriate work in a robotic public toilet facility on Mars. However, this is a ruse as he is really the mysterious ‘Urban Fox’, fellow graffiti artist and social activist friend of Zippo, who alerted the ABCs to Zippo’s desperate plight…
Thanks to Clint, I also have some bonus images! The first is a preview extra spread from the Volgan War 2 Graphic novel. Clint adds extras to his GN’s which is even more reason to buy them!

The second is the Angel Gang Star Scan from Prog 2008, an image which I sure many of you will have only seen in a very distorted manner thanks to the hard spine of the prog.

Thank you so much to Clint for sending these amazing images. As I said at the start, this blog might not have been here if it wasn’t for these covers and I, and I’m sure many others, appreciate the time he has taken to send so many wonderful images! I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I have!

So, a final tanks again to Clint as he's been a very generous supporter of the blog from the start, sending every cover image he's done over the past year within hours of me emailing him. Cheers fella!