Every week, 2000 AD brings you the galaxy’s greatest artwork and 2000 AD Covers Uncovered takes you behind-the-scenes with the headline artists responsible for our top cover art – join bloggers Richard Bruton and Pete Wells as they uncover the greatest covers from 2000 AD and beyond!
This week, we’re going away from the Prog for a moment to celebrate the coming together of superheroes from across the ages of Brit comics with the release of the first issue of Smash!
Across three issues writer Paul Grist and artists Tom Foster, Anna Morozova, Jimmy Broxton, and VV Glass are going to unleash the power of Brit comics’ greatest, including Janus Stark, The Spider, Cursitor Doom, Robot Archie, Jane Bond, and The Steel Claw. There’s even a visit to the Thirteenth Floor with the psychotic AI Max!
It’s a no-letting-up, fast-paced, action-adventure mini-series that features the very best and the most outlandish heroes, superheroes, and anti-heroes that comics can offer! It all begins in Victorian London with Janus Stark creating a demonic prize way too tempting, some sixty years later, for The Spider to avoid planning a heist! And that’s just the start of it all, with heroes from across the ages coming together to attempt to thwart the King of Crooks!
Smash! #1 arrives in comic book stores and on the 2000 AD webshop and app on 25 October. Each issue has a stunning cover by Andy Clarke, and he’s here right now to tell you all about putting the cover to SMASH! Issue 1 together…
ANDY CLARKE: I'll admit, as with the Battle Action cover, I knew the characters in Smash! by name only. I'd seen the odd piece of artwork before - The Spider in particular, but I hadn't seen any of the comics. Despite my ignorance, I was well up for taking a crack at these covers - it felt like something fresh and new (to me) to have a go at. So when editor Oliver Pickles asked if I'd like to do them, I didn't have to think about it, it felt exciting to give it a go.
Oliver was able to provide a whole bundle of reference material, past and fairly present, so I could familiarise myself with the characters. There was some great classic-looking artwork in there, a couple of terrific Chris Weston pieces and some superb pages for issue 1. It makes things a lot more enjoyable when you have art from Anna Morozova and Tom Foster to look at and spur you on. Top stuff.
And here's that reference material that Oliver sent over to Andy...
ANDY CLARKE: Oliver had the initial idea of looking at Sean Murphy's Batman covers for composition ideas to start with - it made a lot of sense as the kinda film-poster feel of those covers would suit these multi-character Smash! covers pretty well.
So, with that in mind (but in the back somewhere, so it wasn't too prevalent), I roughed up some sketches for all three, just really to see if anything popped out that I could carry across them all so they had a connection of some kind.
Pretty soon, the Idol looked like it would be the thing that could link the covers together - the Idol also did a lot of the heavy-lifting for each layout/composition in the end, it helped tie everything together. And, as the series is set in different decades, I wanted to add a 1960s (for issue 1) and a 1980s (for issue 2) background pattern or design as a nod to that.
Once it was agreed the Idol would be the one element repeated on all three covers, I thought that once I'd inked the outline, done all the grey-tone, the flats, the colour and rim-lights on it for issue 1, I could drop it into the other two covers without having to redo it from scratch each time. Then all I had to do was alter the colours and highlights on the Idol for #2 and 3 so it matched the colour-scheme around it. Bit of a cheat really, but it saved some time.
The sketch for #1 came together fairly quickly, but 2 and 3 took a little longer to finalise. So, while I thought about those, I got on with working up the cover for issue 1 - I'd come back to 2 and 3 after #1 was done. I was hoping I'd have a better idea how to proceed on the other two once the first one was complete.
The process with these covers was the same as with my 2000 AD ones. The only extra this time was I thought I'd make things a little easier for myself by looking at Chris Weston's Spider piece and make some quick models of the equipment (the gun, the back-pack etc.) in SketchUp. As The Spider was central to each of the three covers, I thought it might benefit and I wasn't all that confident about drawing that stuff from scratch each time and from different angles.
And that's just what Andy did. So, working through his process pieces that he sent over, first we have those SketchUp models of The Spider's equipment...
And after that we have the process of Andy working through the stages - pencils, inks, adding the greys, adding flat colour, and then making it all pop for the final version...
Well, what can we say except SMASHing! stuff from Andy right there! The covers to all three issues look amazing and the insides promise a cross-time caper with all the excitement of the best Brit comics and their unique take on superheroes! This is one series you shouldn’t miss.
And seeing as Andy mentioned his great-looking cover for the 2022 Battle Action Special, I figured we'd all like a little look back at that one...