Saturday 29 September 2012

Clint Langley - Swamp Tin!

 Hammerstein's in the Bog!

Well, I think Clint Langley just gets better and better! This cover is simply incredible! I saw this in a video of a SDCC panel celebrating 35 Years of 2000AD (see it here) and couldn't frigging wait for it to hit the prog.

Now it has, I can't say I'm the least bit disappointed, it's fantastic.

Here's how it looked on the prog, I love how the smoke obscures the 2000AD title!

Thanks to Clint for sending it!

Friday 28 September 2012

Ben Willsher - In Your Face!

"When some creep's holding a knife to your throat, who do you want to see riding up... Me - or your elected representative?"

Drokk! What an amazing, AMAZING cover! Several readers, myself included were fooled into thinking those lush colours came directly from the lush palette of Colin MacNeil or indeed those pencil tight lips are the work of master painter John Higgins. So, our Emphatically Yess trousers were collectively blown off on discovering that the artist was, in fact, cool as ice, digital artist Ben Willsher!

Here's Ben to tell us more "To start off, I wanted to do an image of Dredd that would feel very claustrophobic and threatening. Whether you were guilty or innocent, you wouldn’t want Dredd this close up to you." Yep, he certainly managed that!

"Now, for quite a while I have wanted to try something a bit different with one of my covers, and do a full painting of Dredd; and this was the ideal opportunity."

"OK, I’ll be honest straight away, it isn’t a real painting; it was painted digitally, but I treated it as if it were a real painting. I wanted the impression of real paint and brush strokes, just without the fuss of mixing paint, washing brushes, or getting paint on my Planet Replica Judge outfit (Okay, that last bit's a fib, I don’t own one, but now I’ve given them a free plug, maybe they’ll send me a Helmet, or Lawgiver for free - haha!)"

"First step was I roughed out a very loose pencil of Dredd’s face, and this would be my template, (or ‘cartoon’ for the fine artists out there)."

"Think about it!"

Ben continues "I simply then just painted over it, building it up as you would a real painting: Adding layer and layer of paint. In very simplistic terms you have darker layers at the bottom, and highlights on top. It’s a great way to work as you can correct your mistakes as you go along, and just tidy up any problems that were in the original rough, such as: making any lines straighter, that were drawn free hand. Obviously, some of this could have been done in the original rough, but I wanted a free hand and very loose guide so that I could do most of the work in the paint."

"To create the ‘paint’ effect I used custom brushes, textures and airbrushing techniques to achieve the finished look."

Ben totally had me fooled, in fact, I even wrote to him and accused him of having a, ahem... short and curly hair on the cross piece of Dredd's visor!

Ben continues "I’m absolutely thrilled that it was used as the cover that would coincide with the release of DREDD 3D in the US. Here’s to Karl, Olivia, Alex and everyone else involved. Cheers!" Yeah, if you're reading this in America, get offa your butt and go and see Dredd 3D! If you've already seen it, go again drokk it!

Finally, here's how the cover looked with the logo, banner and tagline, glorious!

Thanks to Ben who sent this cover, which is currently my cover of the year, from his sickbed! Please visit Ben's site here!

Next time, another contender for cover of the year by Clint Langley as Hammerstein becomes Swamp Thing!

Wednesday 26 September 2012

200,000AD! Covers Blog reaches a fifth of a million Hits!

200,000 Creep!

Wahoo! Today my blog has hit a massive two hundred thousand views and I'm delighted! Admittedly, 199,992 are probably me but I am absolutely thrilled that others seem to be getting almost as much enjoyment out the blog as me!

This blog really is a labour of love; what started as something that I expected to host a few images has become a weekly celebration of the most amazing art talent in the world of comics. While I love writing it, I can't possibly take the credit - I rely heavily on the goodwill of some terrifically generous artists who provide not only mind blowing images, but often thoughtful, insightful commentary which hopefully captures their pure unadulterated creativity and inspires us all.

Thanks to this blog I've been lucky enough to connect with some of my lifelong heroes; I can't describe how exciting it is when an email from Carlos Ezquerra, Cliff Robinson or Mick McMahon plops into my inbox! It's equally thrilling when favourites such as D'Israeli, Jon Davis Hunt, Chris Weston or Ben Willsher get in touch as I know I'm going to get some solid gold images, often with pages and pages of notes or even a history lesson at times! These, are just a few of the many who have hopefully made this a cool place to visit, and I'd like to thank them all. 

To celebrate, I'm going to give you a run down of the ten (current) most popular posts, in reverse order. You may well be suprised...

So pop pickers, in at ten we have Chris Weston's absolutely beautiful Love Letter to the second Golden Age of 2000AD:

The queues start early at the 2000AD shop January sales...

As a bonus, here for the first time on this blog, is the double sided version of that dangerously Zarjaz image...

Double Whammy!

In at number nine is a cover by someone who unfortunately hasn't actually been in or on the prog! It's the cover of Super Squirrel Undefeated, the fan's tribute comic to the poorly 2000AD legend Carlos Ezquerra by the lovely Kev Levell...

By day, Charlie Squirrel, by night, Super Squirrel!

Number eight is Prog 1690 by the brilliant Greg Staples, a cover that I still remember pulling out of my subs envelope and gasping! This post also featured as a history lesson of all the Chief Judges, one of the many ideas I thought would have been quick but ended up taking me hours to do!

Chief Judge Dread?

Clint Langley's first entry, in at number 7, is Prog 1662's Slaine the Smuggler cover...

200,000, and he didn't think it too many!

In at ssssssix is Henry Flint with a ssssstunning cover that made me write a Dark Judgesssss sssssspecial. Right, I'll sssstop that now, it'sss getting on my titssssss!

The Three Amigos

In at five is a special dedicated to the King of Covers, Carlos Ezquerra. Coinciding with his badass Dredd and Rico cover of Prog 1664, this post was an excuse to look at some of Carlos' amazing covers of the past...

Who's gonna mess with Carlos?

Clint Langley is back at four with his Rollerball inspired cover for prog 1714. This post also featured some of Clint's collaborations with other artists, including some wonderful unpublished images from the late, great John Hicklenton...

  A high roller at number four...

A typically brutal cover by John Hicklenton.

And at three is... Clint Langley! This time the ABC Warriors special that showcased many of Clint's stunning ABC Warriors Volgan War covers. A masterclass in digital art...

A smushing cover at no 3...

At two, thanks in part to media interest regarding the blatant plagiarism of Edmund Badwell's brilliant Cradlegrave cover by the Monster Project movie, is prog 1633...

Chav a nice day!

Aaaaaaand, at number one, amazingly as it's a relatively new cover, is...

Chris Weston's brilliant Akira inspired lawmaster Megazine cover for Meg 325.  Congratulations to Chris, a worthy winner who's covers are never fail to be outstanding and who's cover breakdowns are always ultra detailed and absolutely fascinating!

Judgement time!

So, from the bottom of my heart, I'd like to thank everyone who takes the time to look at this blog and read my drivel. More so, I'd like to thank the wonderful 2000AD artists who send me covers week in, week out, often taking the time to show us how they create their magic. Finally, a massive thanks to Pye Parr at Rebellion, my port of call when I can't track an artist down and has, on several occasions, sent me images when I know he's snowed under with deadlines from the tyrannical Tharg himself!

Here's to another 200,000!

Monday 17 September 2012

Dredd - He is the Parr!


By now most UK readers will have seen (at least once) the absolutely brilliant Dredd movie, if not, go out and see it right now! To the overseas readers, PLEASE go and see it as soon as you can, I promise you'll love it!

The pressure must have been intense for Chief Design-Bot Pye-01 when he was responsible for the cover of the Prog on the film's release in the UK. Thankfully (and rather predictably) he didn't disappoint, turning this photo cover into a visual treat!

Here's Pye to tell us more "The first thing I did was work out where I wanted Dredd on the page and how big, using one of the approved promo photos we’d been supplied by Lionsgate. Tharg’s original idea was to have him on a plain white background, so I did a very rough mockup of the cover layout complete with text and everything to see how it’d look. I thought although it was striking, you focused so much on the shape of his silhouette you didn’t notice all the cool detail on his uniform, so I tried a black version too (which is what I thought would look coolest), but that had almost the oppsite effect - The only thing to look at was all the cool detail, but from a distance there’s nothing to draw your eye. That’s when we settled on gray, which took the best elements of the previous 2. I dunno why it took so long for me to try gray really as that’s the background colour already!"

Fifty (minus forty seven) Shades of Grey

He continues "The next job was to clone out all the stitching and crap from the background of the photo. I was going to have him on a very flat tone but it was pretty obvious quite quickly that vignetting him would look much better so I did that instead..."


and after!

In general, photo covers and photo strips have been unpopular with the readership. Pye explains "One of the problems of photos over the usual comic illustration is that they’re just not as striking, the blacks can look grey and the colours are always much more muted, so I tried to sort that out a bit in Photoshop. Using a combination of multiplied, screened and overlayed layers I darkened the blacks, added tone and highlights into places there wasn’t before and deliberately ramped up the coloured parts of his uniform. The helmet stripe is redder, the gloves greener, and the gold bits more yellow. I really like what they’ve done with Dredd’s uniform in the movie, but I reckoned as this was going on the front of the Prog I’d make the effort to bring him closer to the comic colour-wise than I would have done otherwise."

Dredd's a poppin'!

"The clouds where a last minute addition, and it seemed quite a natural thing to add in based on the colours I had in background already. I never (consciously) meant to ape the film poster but that’s kind of what it ended up doing (no bad thing). The clouds are from a texture bank we have at work for use on the games side of things, and there’s about 3 different skies in there all merged in and out of each other..." 

"Ssssssss, you cannot kill what does not live!"

"I was quite pleased with the break in the clouds framing Dredd - it adds a bit more focus to a single area of the picture, really drawing your eye up to his head."

"Negotiation's Over!" The finished image.

But not only was Pye responsible for the image, as designer the text is his job too; "Final thing! I adjusted the type layout slightly from my mockup, but kept the fonts the same – this time deliberately copying the movie posters' design. Kind of gutted I had to cover up that cool orangey yellow highlight on his kneepad with the barcode, as that was my favourite bit of the picture! Bloody barcodes are always a pain in the arse!

Bloody Barcode!

In case anyone needed a reminder of the movie poster, here it is below...

JudgEment is Coming!

Many, many, many thanks to Pye for his fascinating commentary and for sending the images, especially as he had just returned from a holiday and probably had a mountain of a backlog to clear. PLEASE check out Simon's blog here, it's fantastic!

Bonus Photos

A quick search in Google will take you to a few more of those Dredd promo pics. Check out the face shot below...
Stop sulking, Joe, you can go on your bike after tea!

And this cool behind the scenes Lawmaster shot.

"Bruuuum, bruuuum!"

Courtesy of Steve Cook's brilliant Secret Oranges Blog, here's a blast from the past from those pictorials of 1993 with this great Dredd uniform which is obviously based on Cliff Robinson's depiction of Dredd...

For anyone who complained that the uniform didn't look enough like the comic...

And finally, from the eagerly awaited Judge Minty fan film, the prog's very own Greg Staples as Dredd himself! Cool!

Dredd in the Grattan Catalogue

Saturday 15 September 2012

Clint Langley - Medusa's Rage!

Now this is what the blog is for! Sharing incredible images like this weeks' amazing wraparound cover the way the artist intended. Hats off to Clint Langley who has once again pulled out all the stops to dazzle us with this hellish ABC Warriors masterpiece. The scene shows the remaining warriors being attacked by Medusa's Trihimoths and Red Hawks as the red plant's mistress appears to have turned against our heroes! Why has their protector suddenly become such a threat?

Thanks to Clint for sending the smushing cover (and my new desktop wallpaper!)

Thursday 13 September 2012

Risque Biz-ness!

Well, here it is, the controversial cover of Prog 1800 by the artist who launched a thousand careers, Mr Simon Bisley. Personally, I like it. The reflections of the city in Dredd's helmet are fantastic, his pitted, ravaged skin looks great and I love the way his lawgiver works it's way into the image. It's great to see Mean and Death in the mix and I can see the Thirlby-vibe his given to Anderson.

To celebrate Bisley's return, I thought we could look back at his meteoric rise to fame in the pages of the galaxy's greatest comic. 

Simon's big break came in 1988 when he revolutionised the ABC Warriors. According to his Wikipedia page, the artist sent a painting of a robot holding a baby to the 2000AD offices which prompted Pat Mills to relaunch the Meknificent Seven. The strip was, of course, The Black Hole and the artist had a ball giving the clunky robots a sleek, organic makeover. Below is Simon's first ever cover for 2000AD, Prog 556.
The Warriors - Back and cooler than ever before...

The image below is one of two beautiful covers for the Titan reprints of The Black Hole...


Simon's other ABC's trade cover. I wonder if this was the image he originally sent to 2000AD?

Kid Robot?

A beautiful study of Deadlock

After making an appearance in Bisley's ABC Warriors, the artist was an excellent choice to paint the arch deviant for the cover of prog 586...


Perhaps the warrior who went through the most significant redesign at the hands of Bisley was ice cold hitdroid, Joe Pineapples. Finally, the world's coolest assassin looked as cool as he acted...

Yes, red leather pants ARE cool, just ask Zombo...

Apocalypse Wow!

From ABC Warriors to Celtic Warriors as Mills and Bisley collaborated once more, this time on the incredible Slaine: The Horned God. Boasting sumptuous, fully painted, Frazetta-esqe artwork, this classic tale remains one of 2000AD's visual high points...

Bisley's first Slaine cover, wow!

Slaine has a warp spasm on this beautiful wraparound cover for Prog 688

Farewell to the King - Bisley's last cover for the Horned God.

Below is a bloody lovely poster given away with Prog 724.

"Don't eat red snow!"

And a couple of random pages just to illustrate the consistently high quality of  Simon's work throughout this amazing series.


A hack and slash splash from The Horned God...

With the treasures of Britain, Slaine is the King of Kings.

Following the incredible success of Slaine, Simon was picked to illustrate Dredd and Batman's first ever crossover tale, Judgement on Gotham. The story explains Judge Death's disappearance following the failed Necropolis massacre as he uses a dimension jump to escape to Gotham city, only to have his physical form destroyed by the Batman. As the caped crusader examines Death's charred remains, he is zapped to Mega-City One by the dimension device and into the waiting arms of the Law. Dredd does NOT like vigilantes in his city... 

Below is the absolute classic cover of this excellent book, a real favourite of mine...

 The Law, the Bat and The Bony Fella!

Followed by the prelim which apparently is on the other side of the original artwork.
The darker knight

Here's an aborted cover for the project too...
Red Death

This promo image was used to advertise the crossover in the Judge Dredd Megazine. Absolutely stunning design work here...

Another unused image from the book...

 "You with the ears!"

Controversially, Bisley drew Dredd without his helmet though this was quickly veto-ed, thank Grud!

A naked Dredd!

Of course, I couldn't write about Judgement on Gotham without including this classic splash as Dredd comes to save the day!
He is the Law!

The stunning image above inspired some street artists to produce this downright amazing grafitti, look out Chopper...


To date, Bisley has painted three Megazine covers, firstly, this gruesome, rather painful looking cover in November 1991. In this issue Dredd was almost fatally wounded by the Raptaur monster, finding himself attached to all kinds of life support machinery. Also, the issue started the run of Wagner and Grant scripted 'Heavy Metal Dredd' stories. These music-themed stories, mainly illustrated by Bisley, originally ran in Rock Power Magazine but have been reprinted several times since... 

Ouch! That's a mighty catheter there...

Johnny Biker graced the cover of Megazine 1.19...

And finally this absolute beauty, finished with the help of Glen Fabry for the 20th Anniversary issue of the Mighty Megazine!

The Bastard Child of Bisley and Fabry

And here's a Mega-City Vice cover too...

The strong arm of the law!

The next image is from Wizard magazine and once again we see Biz's love for Mean Machine...

Sewer looks good to me!

Back in 1998, Activision released a Judge Dredd game for the PS1. There's a great video for it on the ECBT2000AD site (see it here), it really sticks two fingers up at the fools who wanted Dredd's comic uniform for the movie!

If I remember correctly, to celebrate the release of the game, Prog 1067 carried a poster prog which contained the following images...

The cover of Prog 1067
And he didn't think it too many...
Reservoir Drokk
Another bloody sewer? Why is Dredd keep hanging around in sewers?

Finally, a nice painting of some classic British comic characters, lovely!
So, whether you love or loathe the cover of Prog 1800, there's no denying that Bisley is the Biz and his contribution to the Galaxy's greatest is highly, highly commendable!