Tuesday, July 10

Designing a comic book cover

I HAD what I thought would be a strong idea for the cover of The Subterranean #3. I wanted something extremely graphic and thought an extreme close-up of the Subterranean's head showing his goggles with a series of ominous pipes in the background would not only look striking but read exceptionally well on digital book displays (which tend to reduce complicated covers to a smudge). With previous covers I assembled images from the inside pages. This made for an arresting montage while reflecting what the reader could expect inside the comic.

I was surprised that the image I envisioned for The Subterranean #3 just didn't work. So I reverted to my old solution by making a montage.

Surprisingly the montage made a stronger cover, perhaps the strongest of the three. And it has the advantage of subtly suggesting what the reader can expect from the story.

The lesson is that even on a cover I need to focus on storytelling. When I deviate from storytelling the graphic effect is weakened. This reinforces my theory that comics are best when all elements; art, graphics, narrative, and dialogue, are all subjugated to the art of storytelling. A comic book's storytelling power becomes diluted when one element goes out of balance.

This defusion of artistic intent is illustrated by the all too frequent case where visual effects overshadow the narrative of a film and the natural unfolding of the story is impeded. A special effect intended as a rewarding addition to the narrative becomes an obstacle to clear story telling.