Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Thrill Cover Overload!

There have been some absolutely amazing covers from the House of Tharg over the last few months, featuring some of the biggest names in the comics industry. Firstly, to celebrate both the 300th issue of the current volume of the mighty Megazine, we were treated to a fine wraparound by favourites Cliff Robinson and Dylan Teague. These great covers depict what happens when an intruder dares to infiltrate the Halls of Justice...

Next up, Megazine 301's absolutely wonderful cover by industry giant and Eagle Award winning cover artist Frank Quitely.
This made me really happy, not just because I adore Quitely's work, but because he really is one of the Megazine's (many) success stories having had his first professional comic strip work printed in it's very pages. The cover depicts Hondo City Judge Inspector Inaba from the Shimura stories, a series and character that Frank (or Vincent Deighan to give his real name) co-created with writer Robbie Morrisson.

You can see a video of Frank working on the cover here:

Next, they don't come much bigger than the cover artists of Meg 302, none other than Simon Bisley and Glenn Fabry and just look at this beauty:

Apparently, the cover was supposed to have been just a Fabry piece but the Icelandic Volcanic Ash crisis earlier this year meant the artist was stranded in California during the Wizard Anaheim show just before the deadline. An acquaintance of the artists reports that 'both of them were going at it to get the piece finished in time!' Wowzers, you'd never know.

At present, the cover is on ebay for 1600 GBP, a snip if you ask me...

The current cover of the Megazine (Meg 303) is yet another winner by Cliff Robinson, showing Dredd quite literally stamping out crime! Here's the amazing inks...

And the stunningly coloured version - simply brilliant!

Next some famous names from the comic world having a stab at Dredd. Firstly, cover giant Tim Bradstreet did this great cover for the Megacity Masters Vol 1 trade paperback...

On his website he says "I've long been a big fan of Judge Dredd, ever since I was in Jr. High School. If I'd known then that one day I'd get to do an honest to God cover for Dredd I would have burst into happy tears! 2000AD introduced me to one of my favorite artists, the aforementioned Brian Bolland, and you can see his influence all over my offering."

And onto Megacity Masters Vol 2, this time with a cover pencilled by John Romita Jr and coloured again, by that man Dylan Teague.

On his excellent blog, Dylan said "This was quite a fun one to colour, I've always liked his stuff especially on a Daredevil year one book a few years ago. It was done in pencil with the bulk of the shading already worked out. I turned them into a multiply layer and coloured underneath added some textures and shadows to the background."

He continues "I like the way the lettering has been done to fit in with the style of the pic."

It's great to see 2000AD attracting some real star names which is testament to the very small team working at the Nerve Centre. Currently it feels like there's a real buzz around the characters so here's hoping for continued success in the future!

Monday, 25 October 2010

A double whammy from Simon Davis!

Good Old Tharg has spoiled us recently with not one but two covers from the award winning Simon Davis. Simon is a real heavyweight when it comes to covers for the House of Tharg, currently boasting the third most cover images of any artist (beaten only by masters Cliff Robinson and King Carlos Ezquerra.)

I think the two covers shown illustrate exactly why. His composition is faultless, his characters are incredibly lifelike (well, Simon is an award winning portrait painter after all!) and his painted covers always add an extra touch of class to the prog.

So, above we have Prog 1705 which depicts Dante at Castle Kronstadt with the evil Konstantin Romanov in his sights. An absolutely beautiful and very atmospheric cover. Below we see Dredd battling an insane Ex-Tec Judge Montauk who is attempting to implant a nanobot in Dredd's brain from Prog 1707. Two very contrasting, but no less brilliant covers!

Go to Simon's site to gawp at his amazing portraits. Thanks, as ever, to the very busy Pye for sending the images...

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Nick Percival - Legendary!

Wow, check out this fiery cover for Prog 1708 by Nick Percival! The image depicts Nikolai Dante's wicked half brother Konstantin standing on the battlements of Castle Kronstadt with the Vampiric Emmanuelle Checkhov in his evil clutches! Beautiful stuff!

The cover was a challenge for Nick as he was somewhat unfamiliar with the source material. He says "This was my first Dante cover although technically I guess it wasn't since Dante isn't actually on it... I'm not that familiar with the world of the story but Tharg sent me some refs of the main villain and gave me this description: "I was thinking of a shot of an evil-looking Konstantin standing on the battlements, holding the woman, a fiery sky behind him..." which I think I managed to capture. I didn't realize the woman was supposed to be a Vampire until after so had to quickly add some subtle fangs to get that point across - you can't get enough buxom vampire ladies..!"

Indeed you can't, and I can't get enough of Nick's work
, it always absolutely blows me away! If you want more, then I can heartily recommend Nick's drokking superb, original Graphic Novel Legends: The Enchanted. Both written and illustrated by Nick, this beautiful book tells the tale of a twisted fairytale world filled with all manner of dangerous giants, witches and goblins.
The Enchanted are gritty versions of the fairytale characters we grew up with. For example, Jack (shown below) is a cocky giant killer who uses narcotic-like magic beans to give himself all kinds of enhanced abilities.
Here we have a penel from the book showing Jack, Red Riding Hood (a kick ass wolf slayer), Rapunzal (who can control her razor wire-like hair) and Hansel and Gretel (bounty hunters for hire) facing off against the massive, bridge-dwelling troll of the Billygoats Gruff tale.
Like the stories of our childhood, the Enchanted are timeless and immortal, however someone, or something has found a way to kill them. Following the brutal murder of Pinocchio (see below), Jack assembles his crew to take on the evil Hag - the wicked witch from many of our popular fairytales (also stunningly shown below.)
Poor Pinocchio!
The hag.

The artwork and story are stunning and, unsurprisingly, the rights to the movie version have already been picked up by Hollywood, in fact, by none other than Ron Howard! As I said earlier, the book really is a thing of beauty and very, very highly recommended, buy it today!
Hansel and Gretel in action

Finally, Nick has let me know that he's currently taking on commissions. He says "I'm now in the process of painting commissions if it's of interest to you or the network of 2000AD fans. These are nice big fully painted (with real paints!!) pieces. I'm certainly not going to be skimping on the detail, etc...."

If you're interested (and why wouldn't you be?) you can contact Nick through his website here. Thanks to Nick for sending the images, absolutely wonderful work as ever!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

100the Post Special - Neil Roberts' shows us his hairy, wrinkly, one-eyed chap!

Welcome to the 100th post for 2000AD Covers Uncovered! On this momentous occasion I am delighted to present friend-of-the-blog, Neil Roberts' fantastic cover of Prog 1705, featuring everyone's favourite Wally Squad Judge, Dirty Frank!

This is easily one of my favourite covers this year - the lurid colours, the grime and the swarming flies sum up the character and series perfectly - yet another winner from one of Tharg's star cover droids!

As ever, Neil has been very generous in supplying commentary, sketches, (not at all embarrassing(!)) reference photos and final images. Over to Neil...

"Okay, first up, the thumbnails - where I was going for the pure image, the emotional response (to a dirty old man), bleurgh!"

Hang on to your hats everyone, next follow Neil's glorious reference photos. I always look foward to these when Neil does a cover, remember those infamous dressing gown shots? Back to Neil as he tries to justify his artistic gurning...

"The silly face meant I could look for any interesting shapes and creases, so don't laugh ;) Then it was on to the final paints. I usually go straight to those because, it being a digital painting, it means I can experiment and fix things on the fly. Which I find it a lot quicker than re-drawing and refining the underpainting - time is not an option!"

(If Karl Urban drops out of the Dredd movie we have a ready made substitute!)

Moving swiftly on to the final images! Neil continues "As you can see the first version is a bit flat in the halftone range and I haven't added much texture..."

"This was followed by the final version in which those issues were resolved. Then it was sent to Tharg for the beautiful design work by Simon and Luke - those guys should get muchos credit as they do a great job, week in, week out..."
Yup, as Neil said, Tharg's design droids absolutely excelled themselves here. The logo makes you question your sobriety and the fly on the 2000AD icon sets it all of perfectly. Simply brilliant.
Thanks very, very much to Neil who has once again sent some outstanding images and highly entertaining text. He's a very busy guy and totally up to his (skinny) elbows in work at the moment and it speaks volumes that he has taken the time and effort to send so much for our entertainment. We salute you sir!

Please visit Neil's site and blog to see more Roberts loveliness!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Super Squirrel Undefeated!

Carlos Ezquerra (or Charlie Squirrel as he is affectionately known) is the undisputed king of the 2000AD cover! He has created a staggering 91 covers for the Prog alone (his nearest rivals are Cliff Robinson with 81 and Ian Gibson with 53) and countless others for Megazines, annuals and other fine 2000AD publications.

Fans around the world were shocked earlier this year when the man who created legends such as Judge Dredd, Johnny Alpha and Major Eazy announced he'd undergone surgery for lung cancer. Having had one lung removed, Carlos informed us that he was beginning chemotherapy treatment.

Enter superfan Mark 'Legendary Shark' Howard who had the brilliant idea of enlisting fans and professionals to take part in a 'Secret Project' to make Carlos a get well soon comic to help keep those thrill suckers at bay. Industry giants old and new such as John Wagner, Cliff Robinson, Andy Diggle, D'Isreali, Boo Cook, Neil Roberts, Mark Harrison, Mick Collins, Leigh Gallagher, David Lloyd, Henry Flint, Al Ewing, Alex Ronald, Barrie Mitchell and many,many more contributed to make an incredible, and very moving, tribute to a man who has touched the lives of thousands.

Enter star artdroid of the future Kevin Levell... A real rising star (please check out his blog and website and don't forget the fantastic Fractal Friction webcomic of which Kev is a regular artist,) who was put on cover duties after the project's editor hit a snag. Mark said "The cover was created by Kev Levell at very short notice after the original artist fell through. He also designed a logo for my local printer's motorcycle club as part of a deal I got for cheap printing. All hail Sir Kev!"

Kev takes up the story, stating that he wasn't over the moon with his work "It was a bit of a rush job and all I can see are the things it could have been!" The man is obviously mad, the image is absolutely excellent. He continues: "Here is the main image Mark sent me and pretty much the template for the cover, Mark asked that I use an appropriate logo and had a few key things he was trying to achieve but that was it really."

The reference picture as sent by the Legendary Mark Howard

From that jpg, Kev came up with those great sketches below. "These are very rough sketches, trying to vary it enough from the reference and get to something that conveyed the 'Supersquirrel' idea. I think the Moustache had to be there!"

Just some regular sketches of a squirrel with a moustache

Here's the pencils for the cover which Kev had designed with a portrait design in mind "I'd assumed we were doing a regular format comic, and my idea was to wrap the tail around to the back cover... but when Mark approved the pencils, he mentioned that the format would now be landscape, I think it was simply to fit more in, and if you've seen 'SuperSquirrel Undefeated' I think you can imagine why he had to do that."
Charlie Squirrel pencils

Next follows Kev's beautiful inks, "I normally scan my pencils, turn the line blue in Photoshop and print them out on appropriate paper, be it Bristol board or just bog standard sketchbook paper, something that will take the ink well though. I inked this using a Pentel Chinese brush pen, a recent acquisition that seems to make me ink a bit quicker... and time was of the essence!"Those gorgeous inks...

Ever the perfectionist, Kev begins to put flat colour down on the image. "'I've scanned the inks in, tidied them up where necessary and laid flat colour down... here I've already started to digitally paint the squirrel, but it's looking a bit flat to me..."
Still not satisfied, Kev continues "I've added a bit more depth to the squirrel, but it still needs something... More often than not, I try to keep the background colouring on a different layer, so I can easily add over-layed textures without having to cut out the figure/s."
To accentuate the subject a bit more, Kev uses a favourite trick of his: "I very often find that a secondary light source can help pull a character off the page, that's mainly what I have done here before I add some final textures to the whole thing to take away as much of the 'Photoshopped' feel as I can. I actually add the textures as active layers earlier in the process, and turn them on and off as I get a better idea of how the overall thing will look and I can still edit the rendering if I'm not happy."
A secondary light source is added to lift the squirrel a bit...

And the final image with additional textures and tweaks! I'm sure you'll agree that Kev has done a sterling job and has done both Mark, and more importantly, Carlos proud.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's erm... Supersquirrel!

I am absolutely certain that we will one day see Kev's name in the credit's box in 2000AD and for me it can't come soon enough, his work is excellent. Oh, and if you were wondering about that motorcycle club logo, wonder no more...

I was honoured to be asked to contribute to the project and, as stated at the beginning of this post, thought a fitting tribute would come from highlighting the sheer volume of covers Mr Squirrel has given us. It took a whole day to do, but was well worth the effort!

My sorry attempt...

When Carlos received his copy he sent this wonderful message to all who had contributed, sniff!:

So, want to get your hands on a copy of 'Supersquirrel Undefeated?'

Quite rightly, Carlos owns the only unwatermarked copy of the comic but you can download it from or

Naturally the comic is free but anyone who enjoys it is urged to donate to a cancer charity, for example

"Aw maaaan, I love Carlos, I wish I'd gotten involved!"

Never fear! Due to the secrecy and tight deadline of the first volume, the makers of the comic know that many people who would have liked to have contributed may have missed out. So, a second volume is planned. Full details are available from the following link: The Not-So-Secret Project.

Thanks to Kev and Mark for allowing me to do this blog post, you both should be ridiculously proud of yourselves, you lovely people!