Wednesday 30 May 2012

Prog 1785 - The Scarlet Carlos

Sneck, what a hot dog! Rejoice Earthlets, King Carlos Ezquerra has returned to the Prog! The legendary artist is returning to one of his most endearing creations, the Strontium Bitch, Miss Durham Red. Carlos has teamed up with Alan Grant to bring us the 'No Body Wants This Job' Job, which shows the first assignment for the blood-sucking bounty hunter. The creative team gave an interview about the story on the 2000AD website, you can read it here.

So below are Carlos' fantastic inks for the image, complete with trademark 'Ezquerra jaggedy bits' around her gun and back...

And his amazing coloured image, which one again proves that not only is he one of the greats of black and white artwork, he is one of the best at colouring too. Those textures are amazing, the metal, leather and skin are incredibly lifelike, just... wow! 

Durham made her debut 25 years ago (I feel old!), back in Prog 505 in the Strontium Dog tale Bitch. Here is Carlos' cover for that very prog...
This hilarious story saw Alpha and Red on a time job to protect the then president of the United States, Ronald Reagan. Check out the brilliant first page, everything you need to know about the character is right there...
Those who know their Strontium Dog lore will be painfully aware that Durham's brief partnerships with Johnny followed the tragic death of his beloved Viking companion Wulf Sternhammer in the amazing Rage storyline in Prog 465, waaaagh! 

Here's a fine Durham Red Star Scan from Prog 561...

And while we're doing Star Scans, what about this beauty from Prog 553?

Finally, it simply wouldn't be a Stront flavoured post without the iconic cover of Prog 339, a real favourite of mine!

A giant sized thank you to Carlos for sending the images. This is his 93rd Prog cover, only 7 more until the magic 100!

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Paul Marshall - Hot Saurs!

What a scorcher of a cover from Paul Marshall! He's done an excellent job, I love how Gorehead is giving us the eye and colourist Chris Blythe has really outdone himself with the heat on those flames! 

Over to Paul to give us more info "The Brief from Matt was to design a close up shot of Gorehead, roaring his head off, whilst  trapped in a Flame engulfed you do!"

"I did a few rough's from various angles just for  Matt to look at and see what he preferred. In the end we decided to go with the profile shot..."

Modist as ever, Paul makes the creation of such a powerful cover sound easy. He simply continues "Then it was straight on to the pencilling and inking."

I'm really loving the rendering styles here...
"Once finished the image was sent over to Chris Blythe, who did a fantastic job on the colouring as per usual, and there you have it!" He certainly did, I love the colouring job he's done on that creepy eye and the glowing fire on the cover really pops against the black. Amazing! 

Thanks to Paul for sending these fantastic images and, as ever, to Pye Parr for sending the final coloured image. Another classic cover from the House of Tharg!

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Karl Richardson - Double Whammy!

This cover is drokking amazing, I seem to say it every week but this yet another definite contender for cover of the year! I absolutely love it and know we're going to see this image all over the place in the coming months. Please Tharg, if you're bringing 2000AD posters, this has got to be on of them!

The cover, which brilliantly depicts Dredd in the thick of the action on the run up to the Day of Chaos, is by the fantastic Karl Richardson. Karl, best known for his excellent digitally painted covers, Dredd strips and as the designer of most of the visuals in the recent Grey Area story. He said "The brief was quite simple, Dredd blasting away with his Lawgiver! My initial scribble was one Tharg was happy with, so it was just a case of doing a neater drawing, scanning that in and then rendering it in Photoshop.

Karl's initial 'scribble'.

Karl's neater drawing, with and without bullets whizzing by Dredd.

Below, is Karl's stunning rendering in Photoshop, however there was something missing...

Karl continues "I'd had it in my mind to do some empty shells being ejected from the Lawgiver. As I began rendering I hesitated as I didn't want to obscure Dredd's face and helmet area too much. That meant positioning the shells possibly too far from the weapon  and then risking them looking disconnected. At the time I was also doing a private commission  for John Burdis, a 2000AD fan with a military background. Upon seeing it, he mentioned it would be nice to see some shells ejecting. That made my mind up to do them for sure, and as Tharg preferred them as well, that was that!"  

Many readers will know fanatical Dredd merchandise collector John Burdis as the owner of The Cellar of Dredd. John, or Commando Forces as he is known on the 2000AD message board, does indeed have a military past and has been known comment (at length!) on the accuracies of tactics and manoeuvres used on 2000AD covers. Thankfully, John is now a full time civillian and keen gerbil breeder. I spoke to him and he told me the idea of having two shells was to show Dredd using the 'double tap' technique, the practice firing twice quickly in succession to ensure a target stays down, nice!

As John Wagner has steadily heaped the chaos on Dredd in the prog, Karl continued to put pressure on Dredd on the cover. He says "Right at the end I thought by adding some bullets whizzing by Dredd it would look more like he was in the thick of it. They seemed to work too,  so I was happy that both of those elements helped make the image more immersive!"

They most certainly did, I really can't speak highly enough of this cover, pure thrill power!

Karl is currently keen to take on private commissions. As a very satisfied customer, I can't recommend him highly enough. He is happy to do ink work but is desperate to break out his acrylic paints so please get in touch if you fancy something genuinely special!

Below is my Dredd and Mean Machine commission which I have to say is breathtaking in the flesh. Amazingly intricate brushwork and eye-popping detail!

Also, here is the afore mentioned commission for John Burdis that Karl was working on at the time. It's an extremely cool Dredd vs. Johnny Alpha commission; the originality and composition in this one always blows me away, it's brilliant.

HUGE thanks to Karl for once again supporting the blog. I genuinely hope to see him on and IN the prog soon!

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Prog 1782 - A Weston Front.

Here's neutering Justice Department style! The glorious Chris Weston once again blows us away with this absolute stunner of a cover, depicting our favourite cadet Psi-Judge in a tussle with a Robo-Hound. I love this, the composition, the colour choices, the lighting effects, the action, even those damn pouches fer-christ-sakes, simply brilliant!

Chris is his usual modest self when discussing the cover. He says "Not much to say about this cover. It's a standard action scene / cliffhanger situation." Standard? Yeah, right!

"I've attached the reference material that Tharg sent me. As you can see, there isn't much in the way of background detail; I wasn't entirely sure what sort of location this was taken in. Because of this I was forced to eschew the usual insanely detailed city-scapes that usually typify my work. But that was no bad thing; it was probably best to concentrate the readers' attention on the foreground action."

The reference page sent by Tharg.
Artist: Steve Yeowell 

Now, I must warn budding artists that the next few images may be a bit... disconcerting. Why? The images you are about to see are what Chris describes as 'Roughs.' Maybe we need to buy him a dictionary...

Above are Chris' roughs. Proof that he not a mortal man!

Chris has modified his way of working for this cover. He says "This is the first cover I've done that features my new approach to digital colouring. I no longer scan the black and white image in as a bitmap. Now I scan the art as a full colour, high res tiff. I find it helps the art look more "organic" and less "digital". More paint and less pixels! I like to see the artists' brushstrokes and the variations of ink coverage, not to mention some trace of paper grain."

Below are Chris' finished inks; sure enough you can see the paper, as well as his sublime brushwork.

Chris is a big fan of old skool Dredd, he says "One final word: I know this is a sign of my age and betrays my luddite tendencies, but I much prefer drawing the Mark One Lawgiver. In fact, I would really, really like to draw a one-off Dredd strip set in 2099 and go for a complete retro-McMahon look... exactly as he appeared in Prog 2..." Sounds good to me, are you listening Tharg?

While we're sending requests to the Mighty One, I'd like to suggest, as the Dark Judges have returned to the Big Meg, could we possibly have a Fear, Fire and Mortis cover by Chris Weston? I can only think of a handful of artists who could give Bolland a run for his money and Chris is easily one of them.

A massive thank you to Chris who has once again created a fantastic cover and been kind enough to write us a fascinating commentary. What a lovely guy! Please be sure to check out his blog here, and bombard Tharg with letters demanding a Weston-stylee Dark Judges cover!