Anderson Psi Division
When I was asked to design the Judge Anderson, Shamballa Graphic Novel for Fleetway back in 1991, I thought it would be good to get away from the usual full-figure leather-clad Judge Anderson images that Titan had on their book covers. Not that I had anything against them; they were beautifully rendered by Garry Leach and they looked incredible, but I just thought it would be interesting to have a cover that showed Anderson using her psychic powers and quietly thinking. I spoke to Arthur Ranson about this and he sent me a couple of sketches, one which nailed it perfectly.
With that sketch approved he went on to complete the full artwork, and I set about designing the cover itself. For some reason I couldn't find any type styles that seemed interesting enough for the 'Shamballa' main title, so I hand drew it, based on something I'd seen in a book of Russian typography. I was also aware that there was a Sov-Block element to the story. The rest was typeset, as was everything in those pre-computer days; either typset or rubbed down from sheets of Letraset.
The vertically placed symbols were taken from a set of Zener cards that I owned. These are used to conduct experiments for extra-sensory perception, so I thought they'd be relevant as well as being graphically interesting.
Not long after I'd completed the camera-ready artwork, Arthur's finished art arrived in the post and looked absolutely stunning as it always did; in fact I liked it so much he agreed to let me buy the original from him. I also kept photocopies of his original sketches presented here, so you can see the process from preliminary sketch to the final beautifully rendered artwork.
Prog 708 had such stunning artwork by Arthur, that it seemed a shame to spoil it with too many cover lines. I was in the Nerve Centre editorial office when Richard Burton and Alan McKenzie were discussing this, and they liked my suggestion of War & Peace, so that became the cover line. I also added orange to the centre of the corner box as a nod to the orange robes the monks wore in the Buddhist temple I’d recently visited in Thailand.
For the original serialization of Shamballa I was asked to design title pages for each of the episodes. Arthur sent two pages of awesome black & white illustrations that I could incorporate into the design. I’d kept scans of the PMT’s (photo mechanical transfers) of these, which you can see below.
We lost another Comics Legend last month. I was very sad to hear of the passing of Alan Grant. Below left, Alan by Arthur Ranson, and on the right a photo I took of Alan in Covent Garden, London, 1989.
RIP Alan Grant 1949-2022.
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I love these covers. Arthur produced some of the least-typical of the 2000AD covers and your thoughtful design works beautifully with the artwork. A great team!
Thanks! There's some great art there. I once inked Arthur on Count Duckula of all things. He's the only artist I can remember who actually wrote to me (via the Marvel UK office) to thank me for doing a good job. Nice guy.