Monday 28 January 2013

Boo Cook - Portrait of a Bootant!

No Surrender! Here's the wonderful Boo Cook's Ezquerra-tastic cover to Prog 1817. Alpha fans will be very aware that this is an incredible homage to King Carlos' iconic cover of prog 220 which chronicled the first mutant uprising in Portrait of a Mutant.

You can see a lovely Hi-Res version of that cover below as well as the coloured version...

"I use Brut deodorant!"

Johnny does his best Travolta impression.

Below is Boo's magnificent rough...

There's venom in that there rough...

Unfortunately, Boo's pencils have been lost in the ether but mercifully, these incredible inks survive. The energy in 'em is incredible!

No the wonder this country's going to the dogs!

And finally, Boo's distinctive colours. I adore Boo's colour work, always such very brave choices that he manages to pull off every time, amazing! This is a classic, based on a classic!


And here's how the whole kit and caboodle went together.


I couldn't post this cover without showing Boo's contribution to the 'Someone Old, Someone New' blog which sees artists teaming up a modern character with a comic character of yesteryear. Here we have Johnny teamed up with naughty Gnasher!

Johnny Owns Naughty Gnasher?

And finally Boo's Strontium Dog and Elephant Men team up from the Thought Bubble Collection. Stunning!
 Who the hell's gonna mess with us?

Whoppa thanks to the brilliant Boo for sending the images, the guy is ace! For more of his dazzling work, check out The Boo Cook Archive, it's stunning!

Saturday 26 January 2013

Clint Langley - The Stomping Dead...

Clint Langly does it again! This Red Seas cover absolutely blew me away, the detail is simply incredible! It shows a hideous beast made from thousands of the dead from The Plain of None at the River Styx. Not an easy brief, I'm sure you'll agree!

As an aside, I find it curious that 2000AD can publish a truly horrific cover featuring rotting, blood-soaked corpses and yet a gay issue is picked up on by the press - mental!

Onward! Clint was kind enough to send some fantastic detail shots. The amount of work that has gone into this is stunning...

"All pile on! All pile on!"

Not a red codpiece among them...

Tickle tickle!

Here, thanks to Everything Comes Back to 2000AD, is the image with titles etc. 

Thanks to Clint for sending this brilliant, brilliant cover. I genuinely love it and it's definitely going to be in my top covers of 2013! Be sure to check Clint's site at

Monday 21 January 2013

Everything's Rosie! Festive Prog 000 by Mike Marshall.

Here's a cover that never was by 2000AD superfan (and new daddy!) Mike 'Larf' Marshall. This festive treat was one of the many highlights of the great 2000AD 2012  Advent Calendar and, as it's pissing down with snow across the country, I thought it'd be cool to share his process with you.

It's a real treat for the regulars on the messageboard with several cameos in the graffiti and the odd block name (Pete whistles innocently...)

Over to Mike 'I've been a massive fan of 2000AD since Prog 1 and I can remember, quite vividly, running around the playground playing Judge Dredd, Ro-Busters, Shako, and all the rest. 2000AD influenced my life greatly, it fired my imagination, and ignited my artistic career. I knew from an early age that I wanted to draw for a living and luckily I had parents and teachers that encouraged me in that direction. Now I run my own design company and gradually over the years my role has become more facilitator and project manager than artist and designer.'

'Over the years I've tried to enter the forum competitions whenever I can, but due to always being busy less often than I would like. I was determined this year that I was going to contribute to the message board advent calendar. What I thought I'd do though was to try and combine the day job with my passion for 2000AD and in doing so create something quickly, and not as time consuming as a hand drawn design.'

'My studio does a lot of concept work for retail and exhibitions and part of our work is to create speculative 'realistic' designs to show clients what their trade show stand or retail environment will look like. We use programmes such as Photoshop to combine stock photography and real life photography together along with 3D models and drawn visuals. So I thought I'd design a cover in a similar way to how we work in the 'real world'. I gave myself the brief of Dredd sentences Santa and just took it from there… I never really meant for Dredd to execute Father Christmas but hey I found a stock image of a dead Santa and could not resist...'

Now that's what I call a nut cracker!

'I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do in my head. We've been creating a lot of retail tablet apps this year so I thought I'd build in Dredd using a tablet on the cover. John Wagner often parallels our universe and Dredd's universe so Dredd using a tablet seemed a good visual reference that reflects the tablet pandemic that's going on at the moment. Using the image in my head I trawled our archives and a couple of stock libraries that we use and found some images that I thought might work when combined together. Don't ask me how I knew they would they just seemed to fit!'

Below are the stock images Mike used; Santa and bloodstains, what could possibly go wrong?

Step 1

'I found a pretty cool rendering of a sic-fi city scape and a reference for a concrete background so that set the precedents for the background.'

This reminds me of McMahon's famous 'Un-American Graffiti' cover...

Step 2

'I cut the image out and broke down the depth, softening the focus and giving the image more depth. I wanted the weather to be heavy snow so the buildings in the background and the vehicles would just be blurs in a white blizzard, so to do this I had to break the image apart.'

White sky at night, Judges delight!

 Step 3

'I knocked the colour out of the image and then replaced the blue lights in the rectangular building on the right with gold as I decided this was going to be my Sector house...'

Sector House blues...

Step 4

'I created a justice eagle motif and applied it to the building, and gave the golden areas a glow, as though they were lit up, by overlaying layers in photoshop and applying different mask techniques...'

Lovely eagle motif there...

 Step 5

'The snow is just random dots of white applied with various brush thicknesses, some gaussian and motion blur, and then repeated at various sizes and blur depths / speeds to give the feeling of depth to the weather. I also thought it would be cool to make the tall spire block on the left the Pete Wells block (yaaaaay!), and then I added some more lines of lights on the Sector House block.'

There's Pete Wells Slum Habs bringing the neighbourhood down...

Step 6

'I wanted the masthead to blend into the background, and sit amongst the buidlings.'

'I always admire the unsung understatedness of Simon Parr's designs of the Prog covers, his almost instinctive acceptance that the illustration has to always come first and the functional aspects of the masthead, barcode etc. frame and highlight the main image. I don't know if you've noticed but the complexity of the covers has been simplified greatly hover the last couple of years, but the look and layout still remains iconic - this is so difficult to do, but so rewarding when done correctly.'

Yep , Mike's spot on here. Simon Parr does a fantastic job.

Ah, the good old tooth logo. Warms the cockles of my heart!

'(A good thing to notice here is that instinctively I designed this at A4, when I copied and pasted an actual cover over the top to get the logo in the correct position I realised that my cover was slightly longer - this being a spoof and a mock-up I left it at A4.)'

Step 7

'The next bit was to set the mid-ground stage and I wanted some texture on the wall. At first I was going to create my own graffiti using the Wacom, but I just did not have the time so I sourced a graffiti wall, and placed this on a multiply layer over the concrete. Adding in shade and a spotlight on the floor where Santa would go completed this build.'

What no Chopper?

Step 8

'I dropped in an iPad image rough central and where I thought it would go...'

Hmmmm, I wonder if we'll finally get a Wacom-type stylus in 122 years time?

Step 9

'The glove! Dropped roughly in and coloured Tharg Green for positional. A blank barcode also added. At this stage the board homage starts, and using the Wacom, graffiti fonts and hand-drawn and scanned names more depth and texture of graffiti is added to the blank area on top of the wall. Good to note here that I knocked the mid-ground back a bit and softened it with a slight blur to bring out the foreground.'

Buttonman, Proudhuff, Burdis, RAC and more, it's the wall of shame!

Step 10

'Lots of work on the glove to tan it into the colour scheme. Changing a black object into a coloured object is a tricky process, but as it's supposed to be leather, or a derivative of, it was a tad easier. Highlights, deeper shade, and additional shadows to blend in with the image are added...'

Steam Powered Judging Glove
Step 11

'Dead Santa. Cut out from the original image and the edges cleaned up, the coloured de-saturated and shade and reflections added onto the concrete so he blends into the image.'

Poor Santa always gets it on the message board Advent calendar!

Step 12

'More work done on Santa, additional shadows and some snow added to the mid-ground.'

Ha! It looks like Dredd is taking a photo, the weirdo!

Step 13

'Using the paint splatters from the stock reference I added in blood splats in perspective on multiply layers, under and over Santa.'

Adding the gore...
Step 14

WARNING - Unpleasant images alert!!! Do NOT show the following image to young children!

'Enter Dredd. Or as the case may be John Burdis. I wanted a reflection of Dredd in the iPad but the only good ref I could find at the right angle was a lovely pic of our very own Commando Forces, so with a bit of blur and some overlay magic enter John…'

It's Judge Sump!

Step 15

'Erm… this is the same as step 14, I just like John - handsome chap he is... '

Please note - this was written shortly before Rosie was born. I suspect the previous sentence was the result of stress or lack of sleep - Pete

Those i-amthalawpad screens are certainly sturdy to withstand Burdis' ugly mug!

Step 16

'The i-Pad becomes the 'i-amthalaw Pad' (deliberately spelt badly) and the interface is created in InDesign. I more or less made this up as I went along, but the crux of the idea is that the tablet should tell the story. Santa's a wanted perp and it lists his violations, and his possible violations (PV), control is ID'ing the corpse and confirming to Dredd that he has just executed a known fellon.'

This is BRILLIANT! Please take the time to look at this full size, it's a hoot! 

AKA Santa Baby! Hmmmm, Kylie...

Step 17

'The controls are brought into Photoshop…'

I love how Mike has put an awful lot of thought into the i-amthalaw Pad's functionality, genius!

Step 18

'…and they are merged into the design, and given some glow to make them look like touch buttons.'

Step 19

'Main interface is scaled in to fit...'

Ah, Burdis' face is covered now, thank Grud!

Step 20

'Camera lens and speaker details are added into the tablet interface, as well as glows around the thumb as though pressure is being placed on the screen - this also highlight the 'terminated' button. I also replaced some of the interface text in Photoshop to tell the story better, including the 'elf and safety' violation!'

'Hasta la Vista, Santa Baby!'

Step 21

'I wanted to somehow connect the glove to the tablet, as though there was an electronic interface between the pad and Dredd himself so I thought that Dredd could have 'digital' gloves that maybe connect the tablet to the HUD on his helmet or some-such. I drew the cabling in white…'

Liking the cable idea...

'Step 22 - …then blended the cable design in so that it looked as though it ran under the glove, and then gave it some shine and sparkle.'

and the execution is ace.

Final design!

'The final design was brought into InDesign where all the text is added as well as the spoof Prog number. All done :-)'

Ta da!

What a brilliant piece of work! So many clever touches and so many happy fans on the message board! Mike's company is called Eatsleeppthink, check out their website here.

Thanks to Mike for sending such an entertaining breakdown and congratulations again on the birth of Rosie!

Saturday 19 January 2013

Darren Douglas - Schnorbitz and Pieces

Now here's a new 2000AD artist I'm really excited about! Darren Douglas has provided this high-octane wraparound cover for Prog 1815 which is eye poppingly, teeth shattering gorgeous! His background is in computer games, as a designer for Sony but he has recently made the move into professional comics. Having worked on high speed and explosive games such as theWipeout series, F1, Motorstorm and Killzone 2 it comes as little suprise that we get this fast paced, all action cover!

Darren said "The cover is pretty exciting for me as it's my first officially published comics work. I've been drawing comics since I was a kid (who hasn't?!) and it's been eating up all my spare time for the last 14 years or so with growing intensity (the day job being concept work for computer games.) It's the place where I exorcised all the demons of the discarded ideas that were too racy, too idiotic or too 'out there' for Sony's sensitive disposition. (Not that I'm saying they're wrong, mind you, my own comics never made a penny so they must know something I don't!)"

So the idea of doing a cover, featuring Dredd no less, for the first piece out the gate was ridiculously exciting. (And no small bit daunting too!) The brief was simple enough: 'Dredd racing down the street, city in the background and a sense of speed.' Loose enough to be fun, tight enough to not have me spinning my wheels in confusion."

"I put together a few thumbnails that afternoon, and, from your blog, I spotted some wraparounds which excited me.

I was thrilled to discover that Darren had used this very blog for reference! He says "I found your blog while I was researching a little on past covers in preparation, it was a big help!" See? There IS a reason for this blog!

 "I love the landscape format, especially the surprise of finding that extra element to the image on the back cover. Another couple of thumbs from something that occurred to me that night, later, and I mailed Tharg...

I couldn't agree more. And here are those thumbs, they're wonderfully kinetic, his Wipeout and F1 origins being very evident...

Cover 1A - Some of Darren's famed spaceship designs in the background here.

Cover 1B - MOTS? Oh, Slow!

Cover 2 - Dredd on a mission...

Cover 3A - Dangerous driving cost lives - yours!

Cover 3B - The Grevious Tale of Joe Dredd and the Dead Left in his Wake...

Cover 4A - The Dead Cat and Rat version!

Cover 4B - Greasy thugs! The full version of the chosen thumb...

Cover 5A - I love this idea, Dredd gunning towards you at the start of the prog...

Cover 5B - And speeding off at the end, brilliant!

With such a plethora of options, Tharg went for no 4. Darren says "I was very pleased that he chose, not only one of the wraparounds, but the composition that I liked best. The one with the greasy thugs on the back cover. The only request being that the dead cat and the rat be replaced with a discarded robot which I was happy to change (as I'd been finding them bloody tricky to draw for some reason!)" Pah, calls himself an artist!?! Everyone can draw dead cats with rats in 'em...

Darren continues "I blew up the thumb, well, more accurately, I WOULD have blown up the thumb on the photocopier and printed it out to retain the proportions. However as I was still setting up my home office having done all my previous work on Sony kit, was the old fashioned drawing a grid and enlarging it, to blow up the thumb. That blow up became the rough template for the the pencils which went really smooth for once. Tharg 'Okayed' them with just minor tweak to update the gun and away I went in Painter."

"Initial work went really smoothly, then the second guessing and the comparison with the image in the minds eye began to torture, as usual! The thumb had some overlooked issues with the scale of the baddies, which I addressed, mostly, but is still a bit off. To fix it further would have lost the dynamic composition and to shrink the Judge farther back to fix it further would have made the cover less impressive. Hopefully the sense of mayhem carries it off and distracts enough to get away with it."

 Note the Lawgiver Mk 1, ah memories!

Next Darren discusses his colouring techniques "The palette I start out with is rarely the one I like at the end, partly an evolution, partly a lack of preparation, partly just getting tired of the colours over the course of working on it! Hampered somewhat by only having Photoshop (which I use for final tweaking of overlay layers etc) available on my older PC with its rickety screen, I kept having to back and forth the image on a memory stick to the nicer PC to check every tweak!"

The last detail pass added some items that, to be honest, I thought I would get asked to remove! You see, in every game we did for Sony, there would be silly little references and asides (see Wipeout and Motorstorm images below), which would be removed by various sensitive departments down the line, afraid of offending and outraging (heaven forbid anyone smokes or scratches their nuts while they blow the crap outta ya with a bazooka!)

Now I knew 2000AD had balls of titanium and I took heart from all the funny references I'd seen over the years. But to play it safe, in adding the glib references to Schnorbitz and Ace of Base (the worst thing I can think of to survive into a futuristic dystopia!) I made sure that they could be easily removed and also gave Tharg an alternate version where it was all motion blurred away."

 Above: The censor pleasing blurred version...

 For our younger readers, Schnorbitz the dog was the funnier comedy partner of 1970's commedian Bernie Winters. I'm terrified that Schorbitz will become the next shamed 70's celebrity in operation Yewtree... 

 Eric Estrada played motor cycle cop Ponch in CHiPs and is probably related to Eustice Fargo in some way...

"To my great delight, not a tweak was requested and the un-blurred version accepted. Oh I thought, all that will probably be illegible on the final mag. Nope, my copy arrived and it's all too legible which makes me wish I'd made the text under 'Ace of Base are back' which read: 'The 'Dear God No!' tour' a little more prominent lest folk think I love them as much as I love Erik Estrada and Schnorbitz. Let's be clear, there's no excuse for Ace of Base, none!" Hmmmm, I think the artist doth protest too much...

The balls of titanium published version - Go Tharg!

So there we have it, the first wraparound and first Dredd cover of 2013 and it's a cracker. As I said at the start of this piece, I'm very excited about Darren's work. Please do yourself a favour and take a look at his gallery on the cghub, there's a stunning mix of illustration and sequential work that is bursting with energy, creativity and humour.

Here are some my (many) favourite illustrations from his gallery, firstly this riff on The A Team for the Motorstorm game...

"I ain't getting in no Dinosaur suit fool!

Still with Wipeout, yep, that's a giant robot fighting a car and biplanes. What not to like?
King Car-n?

Followed by this hilarious billboard from the Wipeout game. 'Slime Creatures from Uranus featuring the Village people?' I wonder if this got past Sony's censor?

 I really like the composition of this next one...

  Last Stand - I love this...

And a personal piece which I suspect this is a cover for Darren's Space Dude series...

The wonderfully title 'Tranny'

Which brings me onto Darren's sequential work. I adore these black and white pages, they evoke memories of 2000AD past masters such as Redondo and Gibson mixed with the modern trappings of Frazer Irving, Mark Harrison and even a touch of Eric Powell. I do hope we see some of the artist's work in as well as on the prog...

 "Gonna kick 10 types of pasty off your crusty carcasses!" Some of us would pay good money for that!

 His colour works' not too shabby either...

So, an exciting new prospect for 2000AD, I have a feeling were going to see a lot more from the Douglas Droid in the Galaxy's greatest and that's fine by me!