These are covers for comic funny books. I spend most of my time drawing the interiors of funny books, but these are the bits that go on the outside. I’ve got to fill in some space here, so how about I bore you with the process? Here we go ...
These all start with me being sent a script, although some were done from a vague plot synopsis. I’ll read whatever I’m sent and let it sit in my head for a few days, thinking of imagery. Then a couple of days before it’s due, I’ll say to myself, ‘Oh hey, you gotta get that cover done! Quick! Do some design sketches’. So I’ll do a few of those, sometimes only three or four but anywhere up to 10 sketches, and they get sent to the editor and writers.
We all agree on which sketch everybody prefers, and then I’ll take that sketch and blow it up to a useable size so I can start drawing over the top of it. I do all my penciling digitally these days on a Cintiq.
When that’s done, I print the image in very light blue on some paper (called ivory board—sounds a lot fancier than it is), ink over the top of that with black fibre-tip pens, and white out. Then it’s scanned and uploaded to the publisher with whatever colouring notes I have.
All of these have been coloured by the great Dave Stewart. I’m always thinking of colour when I plan these. Sometimes it’s very specific, sometimes it’s just ‘Maybe this should be all green or red, or something’. Every once in a while, I’ll send Dave a small colour sketch to let him know what I’m thinking. But he’s a brilliant artist and he always exceeds any expectations I might have. He has a way of making colours work together in a way that elevates whatever scribbles I send him.
A lot of the time, the first idea I have for the cover is the one that goes to print. It’s always worth trying to come up with something better. But I think there’s something about the first idea that just works, maybe that’s the most honest instinctive idea. I don’t know. Probably something like that. I’m just trying to fill out space here.
Sometimes I’ve had a really good idea that I was really excited about turn out to be a bad cover. Other times, some half-baked idea that I didn’t think much of will turn out great. Either way, I usually have only a day or two to get these done and I can’t afford to be too precious about them. I like that side of it, you just bang it out and sometimes you are proud of the result and sometimes you are really embarrassed by it. Really embarrassed, for the rest of your life.
It’s all learning though, and hopefully it all contributes to making you a bit better. Or something. I have no idea. Again, the point here is space. Getting a nice text to image ratio, so as you flick through this in the bookshop it looks like it’s full of useful information and interesting, well-articulated musings on the creative process. So you buy it, but then you get home or it arrives in the mail and you read it and find out it’s just this nonsense. Joke’s on you, pal. No refunds.