Harlem Heroes 2000AD Prog 74 Pin-Up art by Massimo Belardinelli offered on eBay

2000AD Prog 74 Pin-Up Art - Harlem Heroe Artie Gruber DETAIL

We all know that 2000AD Prog 74, published in 1978, features a stunning Judge Dredd scene from the “Cursed Earth” saga featuring deadly dinosaur Satanus by Mike McMahon… but the back cover by Massimo Belardinelli is pretty impressive, too – and it’s up for sale on eBay.

Featuring the Harlem Heroes cyborg Artie Gruber, it’s an impressive piece of work from one of 2000AD‘s most “Marmite” of artists. The seller, “Max Normal“, who has plenty of UK comic art for sale, including some gorgeous “Charley’s War” cover art by Joe Colquhoun, suggests it may have originally been intended as the cover of Prog 74, although the annotations on the art don’t confirm that for sure.

To be honest, I have my doubts, but then-Tharg Kelvin Gosnell or Nick Landau, who was deputising for Kelvin for much of 1978 during the run up to Starlord‘s launch, or Pat Mills, may be able to shed some light on this suggestion. Artie Gruber has only recently appeared on the cover of 2000AD, drawn by Dave Gibbons for Prog 68, and the “Cursed Earth” and Judge Dredd were riding high in the popularity stakes. Plus, Satanus… every editor knows a dinosaur cover adds sales to your title. (It worked for me on Doctor Who Magazine!)

2000AD Prog 74 Pin-Up Art - Harlem Heroe Artie Gruber

2000AD Prog 74 Pin-Up Art - Harlem Heroe Artie Gruber BACK

Given its age, the art’s in good condition. There are light handling creases mainly around the edges and as you can see on the picture of the back of the art, there’s a cut around so the Artie Gruber title would not cover up the art. “I’ve seen this done on a few early pages,” says Max, “and is done for artistic purposes and can’t be seen on the front. image area.”

The Artie Gruber pin up as it was published on the back cover of 2000AD Prog 74
The Artie Gruber pin up as it was published on the back cover of 2000AD Prog 74

Massimo, who died in March 2013, also worked on “Flesh”, “Meltdown Man”, and “Slaine” for 2000AD, but he will probably be most affectionately remembered for “Ace Trucking Co.“, which he co-created after requesting that writers John Wagner and Alan Grant come up with a strip featuring many different types of alien.

Represented in the UK by Studio Giolitti, he ceased UK work when that agency folded.

Artie Gruber was an aeroball player who was seriously injured while playing against the Harlem Heroes in 2047. He was brought back from a coma (at a cost of $8,000,000) as a cyborg by scientists in a Mega-City One hospital laboratory, in order to kill the Heroes.

The cover of 2000AD Prog 74 by Mick McMahon
The cover of 2000AD Prog 74 by Mick McMahon

Whether this art was intended for a 2000AD cover or not, if you’re a Massimo Belardinelli fan – and the comic’s creator Pat Mills is, for one – then you may want to take the plunge and join the bidding, which closes later today and currently stands at just under £1000.

Bid on the 2000AD Prog 74 Pin-Up by Massimo Belardinelli on eBay

View the other comic art on offer from “Max Normal”, currently  including art by Joe Colquhoun, Mick McMahon and Greg Staples and more

Read Pat Mills tribute to Massimo Belardinelli, who died in 2013, here on downthetubes

With thanks to Richard Sheaf for the heads up

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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