Tuesday 31 January 2012

Chris Weston - A love letter to the second Golden Age of 2000AD

I've always had a huge respect for Chris Weston. Not just for his absolutely outstanding artwork (and in more recent years his excellent writing) but the fact that he's always been a very passionate, outspoken fan of 2000AD. I was delighted to receive these cover images from him today but it was his words that made me smile more.

Over to Chris "This cover sprung from a conversation I had with the artist Brian Bolland. I mentioned to him that I would like to see him draw a new, up-to-date version of his classic cover for the 2000ad Monthly US reprint comic. That was drawn way back in 1983... nearly thirty years ago!

Since then so many great new characters have appeared in the Prog's pages and I thought it would be a good idea to see Brian's take on them, using the same layout as his original page. Brian liked my idea, but suggested I should do it instead of him.

I filed the idea away, but it took another conversation with a different colleague to actually galvanise me into action. This fellow suggested that The Galaxy's Greatest Comic wasn't as good as it used to be. Now I wouldn't hit a man wearing rose-tinted spectacles , so instead I decided to channel my outrage into this drawing that showcased some of the more recent characters who have graced the pages of 2000ad. That unfortunately ruled out Nemesis and Rogue Trooper as I didn't want this to be a nostalgia piece; I wanted it to be a love-letter to the last few years of the comic's history, an era I think will be seen as a second golden age."

Hear, hear! The prog has been incredibly strong for as long as I can remember. A real testament to the creators and editorial team...
Brian's Original cover
Chris' rage filled spec cover!

Chris Continues "A couple of notes: I took particular care to place the characters so that they would be seen through the "zeroes" of the 2000ad logo. My version of Bill savage does owe more to Jesus Blasco's original depiction rather than Patrick Goddard's but that's no slight on the current artist who I think is great... just me being a sad old fanboy. Look closely at Dirty Frank and you'll see he's wearing a Welsh Regiment badge, my little joke at Rob Williams' expense. Ampney Crucis was based on the actor Ian Carmichael, and I was thinking of John Hurt when I drew Harry Absolom."

"I completed my rough version and sent it into Tharg "on spec". He seemed delighted with it. Only later did I discover it was going to be used as the cover for the 35th anniversary issue. I wanted this to be my own loving tribute to 2000ad and I am delighted it's been selected to grace the cover of such a landmark issue." So are we Chris!

"My only regret is i didn't make it a double-page spread and include some of the older characters like Rogue, Nemesis, Ro-Jaws, Sam Slade and Kano on the back cover. It did cross my mind but I talked myself out of it for economic reasons. I'll save that version for the 50th anniversary issue. With the way the years are flying by and the speed I draw at, I'd better get started...!"

It's wonderful to hear a creator speaking so passionately about how good the comic is right now, I couldn't agree more with Chris' sentiments. Here's to another 35 zarjaz years!

Thanks a million to Chris for sending the amazing images and stirring words! Please visit his fabulous blog here!

Monday 30 January 2012

35 Years of TPO!

The Galaxy's greatest is 35 years young this month and here is one of TWO variant covers to celebrate the landmark event. The cover is by the wonderful Chris Weston and is an update of a classic Brian Bolland cover shown below.

The image was also used for David Bishop's excellent Thrill Power Overload book, which I cannot recommend highly enough. More on this, and the other variant cover, when I get it...

Thursday 26 January 2012

Jon Davis-Hunt - A Bonny (and Clyde) Cover!

Wow! What a fantastic, action-packed wraparound cover for this months' Megazine by the truly wonderful Jon Davis-Hunt! I love all the little details in this image and one or two message boarders are going to be very happy when they see the finished image!

As ever, Jon has been kind enough to send a detailed breakdown of each and every step, so over to him to tell you more...

"This was the initial sketch I worked up from a thumbnail I sent Tharg. The thumbnail itself is frankly appalling so I haven't included it here. : )" What a wimp! - Pete.

"Anyway, it got across to Tharg the concept of the cover which was the important thing - I really wanted to have this very high-octane, kinetic scene with some Juves escaping from a bank-job, not realising that Dredd is simply waiting for them to fly by. I really wanted to try and capture that 'Holy shit..' moment as realisation dawned on the face of the escaping Juve that he's about to get hi-exe'd!"

"In the original I had the escaping juves driving a hover car. On sketching out this rough however, I realised that my dimensions were wildly off in my thumbnail and so substituted the car for a bike, as the former just wouldn't fit. However, I think it's kind of cool that the bad-guys are on a bike, which mirrors Dredd's parked Lawmaster."

"I then inked the main characters. I had to shrink Dredd slightly from my original sketch, just to ensure that he was a comfortable fit for the front cover and to make sure he wasn't interfering with the Megazine logo too much.

I also added the extra character onto the back of the hover-bike, just to make the back-cover shot more dynamic and to balance out the bike. I decided to make the 2nd juve a girl, and imagined them as a kind of Mega-City version of Bonny and Clyde!"

Jon continues "I then inked in the background. I used Mr Ben Willsher's design for the Lawmaster as I think it looks so god damn cool in the Prog, but I gave it a set of retro lights from the old Lawmaster, just because I thought they might look sweet."

"I then flatted in the colours for the characters. I went with a bright red for the hover-bike to act as a sharp contrast to Dredd's Lawmaster. When I flat, I tend to use quite de-saturated colours as I like then going more saturated later..." The bright red bike also has a look of Akira's bike, which we all know Jon loves!

"Next I added in all the shadows and highlights. I spent a fair bit of time on the hover-bike, adding grime and decals to give it a really 'used' look, so you feel like these guys have been pulling jobs on a regular basis." And just check out those decals, we seem to have a Worley sticker and a Buttonman one - are this twisted pair fans of a letter writing loony from Paisley!?!

"I then added in the background colours. I hadn't been able to decide what weather or time of day to do this at, but once I had chosen the red for the hover-bike, I knew I wanted to have a bright blue sky to set it against so that it would really pop out from the back-cover. I darkened down the area around Dredd to contrast and then started to add some shadowing and form to the buildings."

"Finally I lit the scene trying to take into account as many of the lights, screens and neon signs I had drawn in at random. : )

This took a little bit of time as I had stuff emitting light all over the place, but eventually (with some degree of artistic license) I managed to get everything sitting right on the page." Check out the graffiti too, nice to see our favourite podcasting couple get a mention!

Once again thanks to Jon for sending us such an amazing breakdown of an excellent, truly memorable cover! I can't wait till I've got this in my hands!

Saturday 21 January 2012

Prog 1767 - The Great Cover of London.

London's burning thanks to this astounding cover by the always brilliant Tiernen Trevallion. The image depicts Inspector Absalom on his mobile phone in Pudding Lane circa 1666 (I bet he still gets a better reception than mine) as London's past begins to haunt the present.

Below is Tiernen's initial roughs to help him get his composition spot on. Note the child in the bottom left-hand corner who didn't make the final cut and the surprise appearance of Freddie Mercury on the bottom right...

Next, the wonderful, wonderful inks. I think I say it with every post but for me, Tiernen is one of the most exciting artists to emerge in years. While I hate to compare artists, I can definitely see shades of Kev O'Neill, Mick McMahon and a little bit of Jock in the image below. His style is absolutely magnificent, the suggestion of fire is brilliant and the whole piece has a suitably woodcut feel...

Finally, the wonderful colours, simply stunning.

This cover really is a work of genius. From the excellent use of complementary colours, the superb, almost xylographic inking and clever little touches such as the ripples in the puddle and little orange sparks. The artist, if you excuse the pun, was certainly on fire here!

If you haven't already, please visit Tiernen's site, I promise you won't be sorry!

Saturday 14 January 2012

Cliff Robinson - Bad Dog!

Cliff Robinson is back with his seventh* scrotnig Strontium Dog cover. The image shows our favourite bounty hunter getting all tooled up, ready to go on a job to find out who's trying to kill him (again!)

Cliff says "Here are a few bits'n'bobs 'n' odds'n'sods, the files include a few abandoned ideas..."

The first of those abandoned ideas, which I absolutely love, is this excellent close up of a rather angry Johnny giving the reader a face full of Electronux!

The second rough, which mirrors events in this weeks' story fairly closely, shows Middenface McNulty handing Johnny his trademark helmet...

A different approach was decided upon and Cliff went on to ink this version of the cover which, quote "Neither Tharg nor myself cared for very much..."

The eagle eyed among you will notice on this version that Cliff has made the right arm bigger and moved Johnny's trademark Westinghouse blaster...

Ever the professional, Cliff went back and re-inked virtually the whole image. He says "As you can see, for the finished cover I scavenged bits I liked from the original inked version. Waste not, want not!"

Below we can see how the physical artwork looks today. Cliff continues "I'll go back and finish the inks properly one day, particularly if anyone should want to buy the original (hint, hint!)"

It seems that at some point McNulty was going to make it back onto the cover though this seems to have been abandoned for a more iconic image...
Once Cliff and Tharg were happy with the inks, the image was whisked off through an inter-dimensional portal to wunder colourist Dylan Teague who really made the image pop. Cliff is delighted with the job Dylan has done, he says "Please give Dylan a big mention, I think he's made my drawing look better than it deserves to be!"

Thanks, as ever, to the brilliant Cliff for sending the images. He had a hectic weekend but still took time out to find these 'bits and bobs' for us. A genuinely lovely fella!

* Six Strony Prog covers and one Strony-themed Big Finish Audio cover.

EDIT - And finally thanks to the fantastic Dylan Teague for sending the final, coloured cover image. Another excellent cover from the dream team of Robinson and Teague!

Saturday 7 January 2012

Steve Yeowell - Wedding Day Dots

Hats off to the legendary Steve Yeowell who gives us this wonderfully melodramatic, Lichtenstein-inspired cover for prog 1765. The cover, featuring Dante and, of course, a sobbing Jenna lends itself brilliantly to the work of famed pop art visionary Roy Lichtenstein.

Initially, however, the cover was simply a heart wrenching scene from the story, with the pop art idea introduced later. Here's master draughtsman Steve's perfect pencils for the image...
Followed by some typically clever inking...
Next are the flat colours. It was at this point that the Lichtenstein idea was mooted. Steve says "The Lichtenstein idea was suggested by Tharg after seeing the final cover colours..."
Below is a copy of the dot screen version Steve did at the mighty one's request. However, Steve continues "Later Tharg asked for a layered version of the un-filtered cover so the production department could put together the cover now in print..."
And below is that final printed version.

Of course 2000AD has a long tradition of riffing on established artist's work. From memory, I've put some below. We've had Gustav Klimt by Duncan Fegredo...

Gilbert and George and Andy Warhol by Dave Hine...

Banksy by Jock...
This wonderful surrealist Dredd by the (much missed) Mick Austin...

And of course, this year's cover winner, D'Israeli's Hokusai cover.

Can you think of any more?

Many, many thanks to Steve Yeowell for sending the images, it's great to see a 2000AD artist doing a pastiche of an artist who used to pastiche comic artists!

Tuesday 3 January 2012

2000AD Cover of the Year Vote 2011 - The Result!

The results of the great 2000AD cover vote for 2011 are in! They have been meticulously checked and then even more meticulouslyer double checked by myself, then independently checked (and, of course, corrected) by KTT winner the Emperor, to whom I'd like to send a million thanks!

Over 60 people took the time to vote on the 2000AD messageboard, this blog and the brilliant ECBT2000AD blog. I'd like to say thanks to those for taking the time to do so.

So, onto he results! The winner, by an absolute landslide is D'Israeli's Hokasi inspired Dirty Frank cover of Prog 1752. Simply beautiful!

Readers with longer memories will recall that this is the second time in three years that the D'emon D'raughtsman has won, you can see his earlier winning entry here.

In second place is Greg Staples' amazing wraparound for relaunch issue Prog 1750...

Cliff Robinson's bloomin' brilliant Dredd cover for Prog 1738 claimed joint third place...

with Henry Flint's incredibly original Shakara cover of Prog 1725.

Fourth place again went to Henry Flint for this marvellous Dredd piece of Prog 1763.

The fifth spot went to Liam Sharp for his highly cinematic Flesh cover for Prog 1724...
Bubbling under were three crackers, the first by Henry Flint (again!)

Second by newcomer Garry Brown...

And finally the brilliant 1729 by another cover debutant, James Mackay!

Well done to all winners in this fantastic competition!