Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Judge Dredd Mega-Special and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

In the Summer of 1988, Richard Burton, the editor of 2000AD asked me if I would be interested in designing a new title called the Judge Dredd Mega-Special. Well, I had no hesitation in saying yes, so with that in mind he asked me to think about how I wanted to design the cover. It had to look different than 2000AD but also in keeping with the style of the weekly comic. Although my logo was on the cover of the regular progs and I was designing some of the interior pages for the weekly, the in-house Fleetway art department still had control of the cover design and typography. This unfortunately meant that the design philosophy was pretty inconsistent and hideous typefaces like 'Dynamo' would occasionally rear its very ugly head, depending on who took the reigns that week.

Apart from the odd cover here and there I didn't really get control of the type mark-ups and layout until Prog 700 where, with a bigger budget we really went to town with a fabulous cover by Sean Philips, for which I specified a gold 5th colour to further enhance his great artwork. This cover had a pretty big free gift on it, so this was taken into consideration with both artwork and cover lines.

Prog 700 by Sean Philips
Rough cover design
Meanwhile, back to the Mega-Special and I had decided to run the logo up alongside the spine, which gave us the illusion of more space for the artwork. As an idea for the theme of the cover, there was a scene in the title sequence of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that I'd always liked, where Napoleon Solo is shot at by an intruder in their underground complex. He is however standing behind bullet-proof glass which takes the impact and cracks without actually shattering. Alan McKenzie who was 2000AD's associate editor at the time, had a set of U.N.C.L.E. bubblegum cards and one of them featured that very scene, so he lent it to me and I enlarged it on the pmt machine and alongside that, knocked up a very quick rough to show Richard Burton. Luckily, he went for the idea and then to my horror, suggested that Brian Bolland might be up for illustrating the cover.

Now, when I say 'horror', it's not because I didn't want to see a cover by Brian Bolland on the special, it's because the thought of Richard sending him my crappy sketch was totally f@%?*!g embarrassing and I started to wish I'd spent more time on it. I know now that the more sparse the cover sketch, the better it is for the artist because they can feel free to put their own spin on the idea without being hampered by detail, unless of course the brief has to be particularly specific. Anyway, when Brian's package arrived in the office we were all totally blown away when we opened it and I think it was the first time he'd drawn Dredd for 2000AD in quite a while.


  1. wow, this special set me on the road to been a regular reader of 2000ad.


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