Monday, 3 February 2020

Ten Favourite Covers: Golden Age 2000AD

According to Steve MacManus’ thoroughly entertaining autobiography, The Mighty One: My Life Inside the Nerve Centre, the key age-range for comic readers in the late 70s was the 8-12’s (putting my own ‘golden period’ from 1977 to 1981).  As I’ve been re-discovering 2000AD over the last few years - through Steve’s book, The Judge Dredd Case files and Future Shocks - I thought the comic would make an ideal subject for my occasional Ten Favourite Covers thread.

I hope, if you were a fellow fan, you see a favourite of your own here too…
1977, art by Don Lawrence and Carlos Ezquerra (Judge Dredd) - the first copy I read
1977, art by Evi
1978, art by Dave Gibbons
1978, art by Mike McMahon
1978, art by Kevin O'Neill
1979, art by Carlos Ezquerra
1980, art by Brian Bolland
1980, art by Massimo Bellardinelli
1981, art by Brian Bolland
1981, art by Dave Gibbons

Carlos Sanchez Ezquerra (12th November 1947 - 1st October 2018) was born in Zaragoza, Spain.  He began working in UK comics in 1973, starting with girls romance titles before moving onto westerns and various strips for D. C. Thmson.  In 1974, he was recruited by John Wagner & Pat Mills to work on Rat Pack for Battle Comic.  For 2000AD he co-created, with John Wagner, the characters of Judge Dredd and  Johnny Alpha (Strontium Dog) and also drew the adaptions of Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat novels (wherein Jim DeGriz looked remarkably like James Coburn).
wraparound cover art by Carlos Ezquerra, 1980
Evi, according to comicvine, is the “mysterious cover artist for early issues of weekly British sci-fi anthology comic 2000AD”

David (Dave) Gibbons was born in London on 14th April 1949.  Self-taught, he began working for IPC Media as a letterer and worked on 2000AD from Prog 1.  He drew the first twenty-four episodes of Harlem’s Heroes and was a prolific contributor beyond that, co-creating Rogue Trooper with Gerry Finley-Day.  Perhaps best known for co-creating Watchmen with Alan Moore, he also featured in photographs as superhero Big E, the editor of the short-lived Tornado comic (itself merged in 2000AD after 22 issues - I wrote about it here).

Mick McMahon is a British artist who worked on the first Judge Dredd strip in Prog 2 (co-creators John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra had both walked away because of a dispute) and is credited with creating the ‘bigboots and crumpled clothes’ that have characterised him since.  He drew the bulk of the first Dredd serial, The Cursed Earth, sharing episodes with Brian Bolland (their styles were radically different), then worked on Ro-Busters, ABC Warriors, The Judge Child and Sláine.

Kevin O’Neill was born in England in 1953 and began working for IPC on Buster comic.  When he found out about 2000AD, he went to see Pat Mills (who was putting the thrill-zine together) and asked to be transferred to it.  As well as working on Ro-Busters, he co-created Nemesis The Warlock and Marshal Law (both with Pat Mills) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (with Alan Moore).  His story Shok!, co-created for the Judge Dredd Annual 1981 with Steve MacManus, formed the (uncredited until there was a court case) basis for Richard Stanley’s Hardware (1990).
wraparound cover art by Kevin O'Neill, 1986
Brian Bolland was born in Lincolnshire on 26th March 1951 and is my favourite of the 2000AD artists.  After studying graphic design at Norwich University of the Arts, he began working on British underground magazines and became friends with Dave Gibbons.  The pair collaborated on a strip called Powerman which was only sold in Nigeria and when Gibbons went to work on 2000AD, Bolland soon followed (his first cover was Prog 11).  A self-confessed slow artist he was "by far the slowest of the rotating Judge Dredd artists" choosing to "take as long as I needed and do a half-way decent job" (he gets the mickey taken out of him for it in the Judge Dredd case files).  Credited with creating the look of Judge Death and Judge Anderson, Bolland later began drawing for DC Comics in the US and is perhaps best known for his work on Batman: The Killing Joke with Alan Moore as well as becoming a much-in-demand cover artist.
wraparound cover art by Brian Bolland, 1981
Massimo Belardinelli was born in Rome on 5th June 1938 and, inspired by Fantasia (1940), went into animation.  After moving into comics, he began working in the UK from the mid-1970s.  For 2000AD, among other strips, he drew Meltdown Man (written by Alan Hebden) while John Wagner & Alan Grant created Ace Trucking Co. to exploit his “fevered imagination”.  He stopped working for UK comics in 1993 when his agent died and passed away on 31st March 2007.
wraparound cover art by Massimo Bellardinelli, 1983

Thanks to Barney, keeper of the 2000 AD database.


  1. Technically, Dave Gibbons never worked for 'IPC Media', because its name didn't become that until long after IPC Magazines had divested itself of its Youth Group, which had been responsible for its comics output. Barney's mistake. I know, I know - I'm such a pedant.