Thursday, 19 January 2017

Anatomy of a front cover

As a finishing touch, having finally completed the colouring for Book Of Esther, I produced a front cover today. It's something I haven't done for a while and I wanted to make it work right as a graphic novel cover.

My research began by looking, amongst other reference, at Paste magazine's 100 Best Comic Covers of the last few years. And it's very interesting to see the tropes, or are they cliches, that dominate these covers. Predominant was the character standing centrally in the middle of the cover. These symetrical compositions made up about half of the 100 covers. Was it always like that? When I cast my mind back to the comic covers of my childhood, I'm struggling to think of any memorable covers which revolved around the central character standing there slap bang in the middle of the page. But check this bunch out.

You could have your character small, low or high, but always slap bang in the middle.

You could have your character large, as long as they're slap bang in the middle of the page.

Or you can have your character's face filling the whole cover, just so long as it's slap bang in the middle of... well you get the idea.

I'm not one to argue with fashion, so here was my first biro design...

From which I then stuck together a version made of grabs from the comic's pages...

And then I drew it, the various components changing as they always do when you get stuck into them. Then when I put the various parts together, the figures of Shaashgaz and Xerxes that I'd intended to go at the front, didn't look right, so I left them out. Here they are, fresh from the cutting room floor.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here.

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