As we’ve done the last two years, I think Flint and myself will be sitting down with Mr Pete Wells of the 2000AD Covers Uncovered website in the next few weeks to record a podcast talking through our favourite covers and also those chosen by members of the 2000AD message boards.
Before that though I put out the word to some of the lovely people who have contributed to the website and podcast over the last year and asked them to vote in their top five. So, as a result, next week we’ll be posting our top 3 Megazine covers and today we present the ECBT2000AD Top 2000AD Covers of 2013
In Fifth Place Ben Willsher’s Dredd cover for prog 1831
PETE : John Wagner and Henry Flint absolutely broke my heart with the final panel of Day of Chaos. A desperate, defeated Dredd uncharacteristically slumped, losing hope as his city dies. Easily one of the most powerful moments in Dredd’s rich history and I remember my heart sinking when I saw it. However, along comes Ben Willsher, like a kindly Auntie, to spit on a piece of toilet roll, wipe my mouth, dry my tears and make it all better. In my glass-half-full brain, this cover takes place two seconds after Flint’s iconic final panel – the slump was merely Dredd doing a cheeky munce pasty burp and he now stands resolute, powerful and ready to clean up Borisenko’s mess. I loved this as a single cover and got a real surprise when I got to the back cover and there was more. This image is pure Dredd and that is why it takes top spot for me.
STACEY : Much like The Wells, I am very fond of a big auld picture of Judge Dredd on the cover and this is a wonderfully iconic image. With the Megacity on fire in the background, the Statue of Judgment in pieces around him and that stern chinny, chin chin, Dredd means business and so does this cover. I watched a building fall down once and that smoky mustard colour is exactly the colour the sky went – this wasn’t an iconic building like it was a shitty charver bar in Shields but still! Also, this might just be me right but fooking hell has the auld man got sexy thighs? It’s not just me is it? Hello?
In fourth place, Dredd again, this time by Chris Weston from prog 1837
SANDSY : Hands down, one of the best covers of the year in my opinion. The desolation, hopelessness and depressive reality of what Mega City One had become was clear from the haunting cover. I also loved how, despite all the shit, Dredd was still there; standing stubbornly stoic as his city, his LIFE, slowly dies around him. Depressively beautiful
PETE : Chris Weston beautifully captures the scale and devastation of Chaos Day in a stunningly rendered painting. This was simply one of those covers that made me gasp, and you can’t ask for more than that.
RICH : Beautifully put together piece of art and really sums up post Day of Chaos Mega-City One. Dredd here seems almost a metaphor (I know! Check me out!) for the city. He’s smaller than we are used to seeing as a result of the catastrophe but still stood tall and determined not to break. They don’t do word balloons on covers any more. If they did he’d be saying “Is that all you got?”. Really tells a story for me. Clever stuff.
ORLOK : I am putting this in the running because nothing says “Dude, where’s my city?” like this cover.
Though the blurb and some of the logo was baby sick green, the beauty of this cover carries through with some choice colouration. And what is more ominous than the tagline of “End Of Days”? What’s that? “New series of Grey Area starts inside”? Oh, good point…
Anyway, Dredd stands before a broken city where a few citizens are poring through the rubble in search of some indeterminate thing. It’s either food or jazz mags. That’s all that was salvageable in Christchurch anyway.
The look of this city is quite something. We saw with our own eyes how the towering spires of the Big Meg were put to the torch during the Day of Chaos and with the exception of that eyesore Pete Wells Block, this was a very bad thing. Here we see the aftermath as broken and battered buildings litter the land.
Then there is Joe himself. Usually he is a large figure on the covers, a commanding presence in the face of danger and adversity. Here he is much smaller, almost puny against the backdrop. There is a weight to him too and I could not decide if he was just stubbornly pissed off or shock-still depressed. Either way it gets you thinking about what has transpired and where the city (and Dredd) goes from here.
Plus point…huge boots.
In third place Dredd AGAIN! This time from Cliff Robinson’s 1854 cover
SETH : Sums up everything I love about 2000ad, the violence, wit and the irreverence. Cliff Robinson consistently delivers eye catching and witty covers, he epitomises everything that is cool about 2000ad, he manages to encompass in one image the spirit of the comic and to think I used to dismiss him as a Bolland knock off.
STACEY : Everything that’s wrong with fanwanking in comics today! I loved pouring over this one and trying to spot EVERYTHING – they should’ve put a checklist on the inside cover like they do in kids comics to help you out! I love the colours, the whitespace, Dredd’s face. It’s just has a sense of humour and a tongue firmly in cheek. Wonderful.
ORLOK : So, it may come as no surprise that Cliff Robinson is my favourite cover artist and this bastard typifies his skill in all its glory. The dude fucking rules.
This should have been the relaunch cover instead of the shitty 1850 effort, but without a time machine and access to a firearm that isn’t going to change.
Though the perp’s head covers the main logo, this cover still has branding up the arse (six logos and the website are on display) but added to that it also has the comic’s most iconic character on there doing his shit. You don’t need to know what is happening in the stories inside to know what is happening and having Dredd on the cover instantly identifies this as the 2000AD stable.
There is also the placement of lots of Toothy related goodies. The space spinner, the Romanov tattoo, the keyrings, the GI logo, the grinning face of Tharg- all are subtly but eye catchingly placed. The casual reader will see these and say “nice” I must find out more. The hardcore reader will identify where each one comes from and get on the blower to Planet Replicas about prototypes.
But the best thing about it is the pose of the two figures. The one with his back to the reader is us, the loyal fanbase. We are the ones who adorn ourselves in such finery and we are the ones about to draw down on Dredd, probably in a Mark Chapman kind of way. And though we are the centrepiece of the of the picture we are not the focus. That belongs to Dredd. Smaller than the central figure he effortlessly commands our attention as he anticipates the drawn gun and reacts to it in the armpit of the antagonist. You know what is coming next.
It takes a skilled artist to bring this out and well balance cover to carry it off.
For me, this is what makes this top of the shop. And if you don’t like it you are dead to me. Dead! You hear?
In second place it’s Boo Cook with his Gunheadz cover of prog 1830
EAMONN : Lovely to see the old logo, and I’ve got a real Jack Kirby thing going this year so this one did the job for me.
IZ : Quite simply the most awesome cover – gorgeous colour palette, brilliant character designs, great layout, loaded with detail and gives you a warm-and-fuzzy glow of nostalgia. Perfect.
LUKE : This was my cover of the year from the moment the prog first came out. A brilliant retro design that was flawless in it’s execution, from the logo to the price to the yellowing to make it look like it had been sitting around for 30 years. I absolutely love this cover.
STACEY : I love everything about this. I love the 1977 logo as well as all the other little nods to the early progs from the dateline to the colouring. It is joyful in execution full of fun and a fantastic punch of nostalgia right in the mush. I would like it on a teeshirt now please, thank you.
ORLOK : Retro logo.
Retro price ranges.
Retro looking yellowed paper.
Faux dot printing.
A fucking gorgeous shot of the Gunheadz leaping off the page.
Utter, utter brilliance that just needed a free gift on the cover to top it off. Perhaps a decoder device to work out how the fuck Sinister Dexter is still going.
PETE : Gunheadz! I was a huge fan of Maurice Aitken when I were a lad and his influence on the likes of Boo Cook and Tom Eglington cannot be denied or underestimated. This cover brought waves of lovely, warm nostalgia, evoking memories of happier times like when Wagon Wheels didn’t taste like shaving foam, when Jimmy Saville was scary in a good way and when I could expose myself to the girl next door without the annoying media attention and court cases. Superb character design and dazzling special effects to give that aged look show an artist at the top of his game.
RICH : Kinda hard to seperate the awesome of this cover from the beautiful wave of nostalgia it gives old bastards like me. I mean… it’s even got the house number drawn on by the newsagent for fuck’s sake! Make’s me smile every time I see it and even without all the clever design work totally looks like it coulda graced the cover of an old prog. Oh… and the logo. DAMN! I miss that logo.
And coming in first, it’s Leigh Gallagher with his amazing Defoe cover from prog 1836
MICK : Fantastic cover. Fucking red zombie howling at the sky!! Crows!! Defoe!! Creepy men!! What’s not to like? This one has it all in spades. Not just the best cover of the year but best by a HUGE margin. They should just have this hanging in editorial so everyone at 2000AD knows what a cover’s supposed to do. Leigh Gallagher’s a fucking champ here. Striking image that’s just cool as fuck. The cover’s got a hard job – catch your eye on the shelf, intrigue you with the image, impress you with the artwork and look fucking cool enough that if you decide to read it on the way home, no-one’ll think you’re a fucking ponce, drag you off the bus and dance on your stupid fucking nerd face. This one would ensure I made it home safely.
LUKE : a masterwork of composition. The red zombie on the white background was a great use of color, and the figures inside the zombie were subtle enough they didn’t take away from the image if you looked quickly and were a great reward if you looked at it longer.
SETH : Striking, strong sense of design, Gallagher is a real find, fantastic artist!
IZ : The most striking cover in very few colours. The level of detail is outstanding, with every key figure in Defoe drawn perfectly. This image would look phenomenal blown-up to poster size. Preferably on my living room wall.
SANDSY : A great cover. I loved how it played around with the Good Guy Vs Bad Guy theme by morphing the two groups into one. That overlap between Defoe’s and the zombie’s anatomy, especially around their torsos, was a brilliant, technical touch. It takes you a while to figure out which guy is being drawn (and even then, it’s like the picture of the old/young lady where, if we look at it in a certain way, one part of the picture is recognised whilst the other part remains hidden). In addition, nice macabre colouring and a feeling of imminent showdown really added to the cover.
RICH : As with Henry Flint’s Shakara/Da Vinci cover the year I picked that as my fave, the second I saw this I knew it was pretty much a done deal. Genius concept, beautiful design, amazing realisation. Don’t wanna blow too much smoke up Gallagher’s arse but this one was almost too damn good to be just a standard weekly comic cover. All that said I’m sure Patrick Goddard coulda done it better. BOOM! I keeed, I keeed! Really though, top spot totally well deserved.
ORLOK : The first time I saw this I thought it was a movie poster. The pose reminded me of a spaghetti western poster I once saw and I thought someone had given it a makeover. Imagine my surprise when I looked closer and all was revealed. And there, in essence, in the idea of a great cover. A good cover will have you nodding in appreciation once you sit down and look at it, but a great cover (much like a Thai Ladyboy) will grab you at a glance and insist you look at it and pick out the meat.
Though the weathered blue font is a departure from the standard and universally accepted red, this works damned well and the making of this cover on the blog of the amazing/namecheck whore (delete as applicable) Pete Wells is a must read. The colour scheme on display here makes the reek silhouette explode off the white background and the open mouth and eyes add a soulless quality to it all as we can see right through it. Layered within is the shot of Defoe and his cohorts, rendered in deep red/black to indicate the dark and bloody events within. The added benefit of an illusory coincidence (at first glance I thought the belt and straps were on the reek figure) just enhances the experience.
I hate Leigh Gallagher. I hate him so much.
PETE : Another striking piece of design. Deceptively simple at first glance then mind-bogglingly clever and well executed. I’m amazed that Leigh managed to get nine of the Dirty Dozenne in there as well as his signature PJ Holden… of wait, that’s Mungo Gallowgrass. This image is the epitome of cool, the protagonists look suitably badass, the colours are remarkable and even the zombie outline manages to be scary. I particularly like how Defoe’s weapon’s belt and cloak could belong to the zombie too. Simply class!
STACEY : I think everyone else has already covered the reasons why this is wonderful. Visually stunning, clever and intriguing and the colour choice is inspired. He’s a bit bloody good the boy is isn’t he?
EAMONN : Zombie-tastic
And to wrap up, here’s a visual summary of what everyone voted for, first place far left, fifth place far right.
You might notice that, as usual, Colin has a TOTALLY different take on everything from the rest of us…. which is why I try and get as many reviews from him as I can! Anyway, in light of this and the face he’s been good enough to write up his choices in full I’ll be doing a seperate post next week where he can explain why he chose the five he did.