PJ Holden – I SPY!

Original source


Welcome to the first post of 2015, and I couldn’t be happier than kicking off the new year with a cover by the brilliant PJ Holden! Criminally, this is only Paul’s second prog cover, his first being the hilarious, McMahon inspired  cover of prog 1639…


“Go for your piece!”

Paul remains in the Dreddverse, this time treating us to a sinister Orlok cover as the Soviet spy gets his first solo series in the prog. I’m sure most readers will know the history of this notorious villain, but if you need a reminder check out this great article on Judge Tutor Semple’s fine blog! 

Okay then, below are Paul’s cover roughs, energetically sketched in his notebook. I love the tense atmosphere these convey…


Highlights of the Soviet Games Hide and Seek event…


However, PJ took a slightly different route. Here’s his pencil sketch which he says “Inevitably, I prefer this to to final piece – sheesh!”


Orlok had managed to glue his model gun to his face again…

With the idea nailed, PJ pencils it properly – “Here’s my finished pencil, drawn in a notebook. I scanned and printed this out in blue then inked from it…”


He’s a cutie really.


And here are those finished inks…


Marv-ellous!


Paul then sent colour options to Tharg, who went with option C. I’ve got to say , I kinda love option A…



A shows Orlok’s adventures in Amsterdam…


PJ also included“An attempt at a noir cover,” if 2000AD did variant covers, this would have been a cracker!


Sov City?


And here’s the final coloured version, oh yeah!



Not quite sure they chose the right model for the neighbourhood watch campaign…

BONUS – PJ’s CHRISTMAS CARD


PJ did a wonderful Christmas image for friends and family and sent for the glorious 2000AD Advent Calendar.   He he saysThe brief: do the minimum amount to create a seasonal image I can email clients/friends/family, and throw online to say Happy Christmas to everyone.”

“The problem: no time, no idea, no talent.” Are you kidding!?!

“I knew it’d feature Dredd because he’s my easy go to for a quick drawing, I figured I’d include Santa (because Dredd’s always arresting a santa) and it’s seasonal, so I banged out a couple of half hearted sketches then did this one, featuring a large nosed alien thing, with Beard being manhandled by Dredd.” Dredd’s always arresting a Santa – ha ha ha!

Top left: When Santa Got Stuck up the Chimney?

“Sketch done, I penciled it – unusually for me, I went straight to inks – normally I’ll scan the pencils and print them in blue so I don’t have to erase. I wish I’d done that here since I started erasing pencil lines before ink had properly dried and the result was a lot of large smears I needed to edit out in Manga Studio. As ever there a bits of the sketch I much prefer (aliens face, the turn of his head, the haunched nature of dredd – much more action in this shot),  but it was ever thus…”

Citizen Snork has let himself go…

“Ink work done (originally he only had one hand aloft, but I added the second one without really giving much thought to where his arm belongs, hence the weirdly floaty nature of the hand, but I figured I’d crop it out and no-one would notice the fact that that arm shoots out of the middle of his chest (in the end, I forgot to crop it, and no one seems to have noticed – or at least not drawn it to my attention.)” Jeez, Paul really is a harsh critic… 

“I’ve been thinking a lot about colour. I’d like to start doing more colour stuff, but I’m so damn slow it hardly seems worth while, but I think, to get my art exactly where I want it, I need to colour my own work. How, I’ve no idea!”

“Anyway, I flatted this (which is time consuming) then coloured it quickly (too quickly, as I forgot to add texture to the Santa hat and didn’t even colour the teeth! sheesh!) but I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out – especially the hands and that big old honker!”


Greggsnorx, the big nosed Santrax, had a very bulbous nose…

Gigantic thanks to PJ for kicking off the year in style! Here’s hoping we see LOADS more of him in and on the Prog this year, some Department of Monsterology too please Santa!