2000AD Covers Uncovered - Dark Justice

The making of Jon Davis-Hunt's modern classic cover of Prog 1981

6 months ago

Back in Prog 1981 we were in the middle of Mike Carroll's summer epic, 'Every Empire Falls', which saw an attempted hostile takeover of Megacity-One by treacherous dissenters in Texas City and Brit-Cit. Of course, Dredd wasn't going to take this lying down, so a plot was hatched fake his death before taking him prisoner in Brit Cit. As we know, Dredd is a very hard man to kill and it wasn't long before the battered and beaten lawman led the fight back for his beloved home, but at what cost?

Premier artdroid, Jon Davis-Hunt produced this glorious cover, which for me, is easily a contender for cover of the year. Jon is currently providing beautiful artwork for the disturbingly grisly 'Clean Room' for Vertigo comics, but took time out of his hectic schedule to work on a piece which had been rattling around his curcuits for a while.

He said "I originally had the idea for this cover about a year ago, but had been too busy with stuff to get any time to work on it. My idea was, to have Dredd, seated after a hard fight, with his helmet off, held between his legs. He would be sitting in a strong shadow, the angle of which, as it fell across his face, would not only obscure his eyes (as the helmet normally does) but actually mirror the angle of the helmets nose section."

"I was heading to Thought Bubble at the end of November and I realised that John Burdis would be there. As he is such a thoroughly nice chap, I figured he would be up for posing for a reference photo. I wanted to do a really detailed version of Dredd’s suit and I figured, as Johns real-life, Planet Replicas version was so ace, it’d be the perfect opportunity. I pitched the idea to Tharg who liked it, then headed off to Leeds to find John. As you can see, he was a total gent and agreed to pose for this photo. Cheers John! :)" 

This isn't the first time that Cellar of Dredd owner John has modelled for 2000AD droids. He has also posed for greats such as Greg Staples and Laurence Campbell, though obviously those images were heavily edited to make Dredd more manly, slender and chiselled...

A thoroughly nice chap, apparently... :)

Of course, the above picture in no way resembles this classic Cliff Robinson cover of Prog 1194...

"I'd give that ten years if I were you..."

Jon continues "With a nice photo to help with ref, I then sketched out the pose. I exaggerated Dredd’s size and also tried to get him to hunch over a little more, to emphasise the idea that he’d just been in a bloody and hard fought battle..."

Oor Joey...

"Next came the inks. I went straight from my rough sketch to the inks, as I felt the proportions of the sketch were mostly there. As I worked on each element, I then began to ad in all the scarring, battle-marks and blood. I figured that the Judge uniform would be layered, with armoured weave and multiple layers under the surface for insulation, protection etc and tried to show this on various points. I also tried to imagine specific instances that had occurred – you’ll notice that on Dredd’s right side, his eagle and arm is peppered with shrapnel marks where I imagined he had turned at the last minute to avoid a grenade etc."

Suprisingly, Dredd's Megadate profile picture didn't lead to many dates...

"With the inks done, it was time to flat out the colours. I did toy with the idea of darkening the costume and making it more gritty, maybe even adopting the darker uniform of the film (the good one, not the bad Stallone one). But in the end, decided to go with the original colours."

He's been shot and blown up, of course he's flat!

"With flats done, I then move onto modelling. I tend to keep that fairly simple now, just using a few layers for highlights and a few for shadows."

Dredd HATED those fiddly little ketchup sachets...

"Finally, lighting. I tried to emphasise the materials here, especially the gold of the armour. I also added in the suggestion of the light source (although I used a large degree of artistic license for this). :) "

He just needs to pop it in a boil wash with new, improved Megsil Powder and those stains will be gone, gone, gone!

"And there you have it!" 

You certainly do! Huge thanks to Jon for the images and text. Be sure to check out his site at http://www.jondavis-hunt.com/ for some truly breath taing images! Look out for the making of Jon's beautiful Anderson cover of Prog 1995 soon!