For this commission I contacted the Legendary Dredd artist Colin MacNeil initially during April 2011 for a scene with Dredd and myself, along with Pete Wells and Stephen Watson. Why did I include these two as well, I hear you ask! The answer is simple, I'm a bloody nice bloke and the other reason is that during conventions I've shared rooms with these two members of the 2000AD forum and they have become good friends (not in that way, you filthy devils), so why not spread a little happiness!
There was one basic premise and that was that me and Pete would be in Brit-Cit Judge uniforms and Stephen would be in a Cal-Hab uniform. The story itself was up to Colin!
Colin came back with a meeting in the Black Atlantic Tunnel and two sketches, as he missed Stephen out from the first one, which he mentions:-
On the original sketch, I had essentially "Hookjaw" about to crash through the windows. I then remembered Stephen had to be in the pic too. Doh! He took the place of the shark.
At Hi-Ex! I saw Colin's initial idea for the scene in the flesh and we both ummed and ahhed about it, as it just wasn't quite right somehow! We chatted for ages trying to come up with a new idea and during this time I missed most of the charity auction but not enough to miss out on a few items!
After throwing ideas back and forth we finally came up with a rough idea. The four characters would be involved in Judgement Day, somehow! I would contact Colin with the whole idea once I had it fully in my mind!
Soon after I sent an email up with the following specifications:-
We decided on a pic of the four of us, Stephen Watson (Cal Hab), Me (Brit Cit), Dredd and Pete Wells (Brit Cit) all in a line having wiped out loads of the undead. Stephen could be wiping gore off his Claymore, me and Dredd changing mags-checking weapons-etc... and Pete noticing thousands more zombies in the background and trying to get our attention.
With ref to the zombies you could put in some famous ones from movies like Bub from Day of the Dead, Rick Grimes (although he's not dead) the sheriff from The Walking Dead, and also some forum members, artists, writers and any famous people you would like to include as a zombie. By the way you could include yourself as one of the undead, if that's not too spooky.
Also could you include Gavin Leahy and have him wearing a Pete Wells Block T-Shirt after the fun from the auction up Hi-Ex! Also Dave who came up with us on the Hell-Trek as he wore that distinctive woolly hat and has that beard.
I'll go for my bearded look as well if that's okay
I awaited his reply and I was very impressed with what he sent, along with his description:-
I'm just working out the locations/story of each main character at the mo. Mr Watson is catching his breath after swinging his claymore about. A "bloody 'ell, I survived!" look is on his face.
Dredd is front and centre, pumping his triple barrel shotgun to eject the shell casings. A hint of Bruce Campbell in the Evil Dead sort of thing. He is as cool as der cucumber.You stand proud beside Dredd, a gore covered night-stick resting on your shoulders. You were up to the challenge and fought side by side with Dredd, kinda thing.Pete, well Pete has survived the Zombie horde well. He knows that if he keeps close to Dredd and yourself he'll survive. The rest of you are a bit covered in gore and debris of zombie, Pete's a bit cleaner than everyone else.
On the ground in the foreground lie the various bodies and severed heads. I'll insert the famous zombie elements amongst the dead. In the middle, on the ground, lies the corpse of zombie Tharg. Well, I couldn't not do Tharg could I? Perhaps a Judge boot knife thrust in to his skull, right through the Rosette of Sirius.
In the background, coming over a rise, are the zombie versions of various members of the 2000ad forum. Come to eat your brains!
During these emails Colin informed me of what he was adding, or taking away:-
I've sorted out the figures. Watson's just the same. I've changed Dredd's footing so he's more forward looking in the picture. Also it's a better visual shape. I've taken away your gun and given you two nightsticks. Pete's arsenal is increased from a knife to a knife and fork. Complete with eyeball on the end of the fork. No sense not playing to type.
The zombies, well, I haven't quite got there yet. "Bub"'s head is impaled by Steven's sword, the sheriff's head from the Walking dead is right behind him. Zombie Tharg is front and centre.My head is off to one side and one of those Nazi zombies. Various bits and pieces lie around, spleens, livers, entrails, etc. I still need to do work on this section yet.
In the background are the forum. Left to right we have Dave Thompson (?), unidentified possibly DDD?, Roger of course, Gav with pete well's block t-shirt and Dog Deever on the end. All quite distinctive shapes. Any suggestions for specific members? There's also lots of comic pages flying around, makes the image move a bit visually.
General concept is fictional characters in foreground, a mix of fact and fiction in the middle and in the background more fictionalised facts.
Let me know your thoughts and suggestions for major background characters. I'd say seven characters all told, so three suggestions would be grand. I can indicate more in the far background, but seven would be the maximum number of major background characters.
All systems where go now, as this was spot on. I was loving all the little extras that Colin had included but now I needed to include some other folk. I opted fror Stacey & Iz from the Megazine Podcast from ECBT2000AD and also to have Mike Molcher as the mystery zombie and have him wearing a Cellar of Dredd T-Shirt!
Colin then asked for some pictures of certain people, which was easy to provide but he also needed some expression shots of us three:-
Finally could you send me some pics of yourself, Pete and Stephen? I know there's various pictures on various threads, but do you have any photos which might tie into the poses? Doesn't need to be exact, just something with the right sort of expressions. Stephen - Knackered. You - Smug Proud/happy, a job well done kinda look. Pete - Oh, shit!
Now this was fun, as both Stephen and Pete sent some hilarious pictures across for me to send on and I will spare their blushes and not show them here but if you see me at a convention I'll show you them then! All I had to do now was wait for the next email.
Next up was my new pose with my expression and how it would look in the finished piece!
I left Colin to it and eventually I cracked and asked for a sneaky look at how he was getting along! I was blown away by it as I'm sure you will be....
Now I know I ain't got much hair but what I do have is luxuriant and thick, so I asked Colin to put what little I do have back on my head and due to Carolyn liking my beard, could he put then back into the picture. That was it, all I had to do now was wait!
Colin sent the picture down to me during October 2012, so as you can see, it was a long progress. He had to finish Pete Wells commission off first and fit in his normal work as well. Saying that, when I met Colin at Hi-Ex it was the end of March 2012 and he started the finished commission properly after that period. This gives you an idea as to the time scale but you have to remember the artist has to fit these items into his schedule!
Anyway, here is the finished page and I'll mention who is who with each picture, when I do close-ups!
Now for the other characters on the floor!
Bub & Rick
The rest of the characters you can see in the main pictures but I'll leave the penultimate words with Colin as he says who and what everyone is:-
Dalek - A Dalek is half organic, so a zombie Dalek. I'm sure I've never heard of a zombie Dalek before.
Rick and Bub.
Tharg - Well, "once I was the apprentice, now, I am the master" kinda thing. Also, it felt like the right character to do from 2000ad to show that Dredd is the best character in 2000ad. Tharg is a symbol for all of 2000ad. I mean it is Dredd above all other 2000ad characters for you, isn't it? It's not Cellar of 2000ad, it's the Cellar of Dredd.
Cap America's shield - It's another symbol, that none can stand before Dredd. Superheroes are weak. Isn't his shield meant to be some super special metal? It doesn't matter to a Justice Dept triple barrelled shotgun. BA-DOOOM!
Dead person between your legs - If you look closely, you will see Batman. Well, Dredd killed Cap America, so symbolising Marvel. Batman symbolises DC.
Broken glasses - Harry Potter. Even the biggest merchandising characters will fall before the power of Dredd.
SS helmet - Well, it seems whenever you get zombies, you get Nazis now, so....
Spock - Yes, Spock, as a symbol for Start Trek. Again...
Drawing myself? I've drawn myself many times in comics, though usually in crowds where one wouldn't notice me. Even the fact that I was drawing my own severed head didn't weird me out. I'm a fairly weird chap anyway, so this was just a normal day for me. ;)
In case you missed it. That's big Tom Proudhuff on the extreme left, in silhouette and Izzy on the extreme right, next to Dog Deever. Stacey's on the other side of Dog. I think everyone else is recognisable.
Overall, this picture is about how better Dredd is than everything else in the world, especially of it's a zombie infested world.
Colin also mentioned the sky, can you see it..........................it's a skull
I think that about covers it all and I must say it was yet another superb experience for me to have this done. I urge any fan out there who has always thought about trying to obtain something like this to go for it and just ask the artist they like if they do commissions!