Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Evolution Of A Cover

With the cover to The Sisterhood now being pretty much locked*, I thought it would be a good idea to show the processes we went through to get to the final stage. I can't stress how important I feel a cover is to a comic, mainly because it's often the first thing a potential buyer becomes aware of when they survey the wall of new comics inside their local comics shop. Okay, the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man may be sitting there as expected, but if the eye is drawn to a great looking cover belonging to something entirely unexpected then there's a chance the comic may be picked up, flicked through and hopefully bought. And for a small-time publisher like us that cover hook can make us or break us. So it's why whenever we begin to put a new one-shot together the cover is something we begin to work on immediately after the scripting stage - with the cover art being the first fully completed artwork in-house.

Of course, every cover image starts with an idea, and the idea I had for The Sisterhood was to have a riff on the iconic photograph that depicted the US flag being raised on Iwo Jima during World War Two:

Why this image? Well, it seemed to fit ideally the militaristic angle that The Sisterhood features as one of its central themes, and gave scope to produce a suitable action pose featuring all the main characters. I passed this idea to Dan Barritt - The Sisterhood's artist - and asked him to work something up. He came back with some rough sketches including this:

This perfectly captured the look I was after, the flag in the background adding some desired weight to the image, so I confirmed with Dan that the cover would be based on this rough and asked him to work up a suitable finished version. Dan soon gets back to me with this:

To be honest, Dan had strayed from his brief here. The Sisterhood cover had never been planned as a wraparound, but Dan had worked it up that way with the notion that if I didn't like the widescreen version the left hand side could easily be cropped with the right hand main image not losing anything. Part of the fun of working with artists is seeing what they come up with creatively and the work they produce often surprises and delights. It was a no-brainer to me - The Sistehood would not only be the first full colour comic from Time Bomb Comics, it would now also feature the first wraparound cover.

The cover artwork completed, I now brought Andy Dodd on board to start adding the cover text to the image, and working with The Sisterhood logo that I had also had Dan design. Despite not being the artist for The Sisterhood Andy is responsible for the editorial design of the comic, and his first crack at a finished cover resulted in this:

There were a number of things I didn't like about this, the primary one being the placement of the logo at the bottom of the cover. I could understand Andy's reasons for the placement - he wanted to show off as much as Dan's artwork as possible - but I felt that we would lose display prominence when displayed if the logo deviated too much from the traditional location. I also felt the Time Bomb Comics brand label looked too squashed, the addition of our "Telling Great Stories" strapline making it look too busy. I detailed these issues to Andy and he then came back to me with some more options:

Both of these were steps in the right direction, but elements in each were not quite right. The logo placement was better but still needed a tweak, as did the placement of the creator credits, and I felt the cover price would work better if integrated more into the branding. The biggest visual change was probably the logo being re-coloured to pick up the grey elements of the artwork. Other than that I was happy, and Andy's assurances that these further changes would be quick and easy to accomplish made me feel less of a picky bastard!

Which brings us to the final locked image which is this:

Here you can see all the design elements in place, with all the layout changes fixed. I think the integrated price/brand box really works, and the main logo layout the strongest it can be. This finished version is what we'll be using for marketing over the next few months, and is already up on the website and linked pages. All in all, a job well done.

*Of course I say "locked" but it's really only the front cover that's sorted out. Andy and I still have to work on the back cover text layout before the cover can really be said to be completed!

No comments:

Post a Comment