Some of My Comic Book Cover Sketches

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Jury Duty comics cover, from Sketchbook No. 44, 2001

In this blog, I’ve been exploring some of the vernacular language of comics – or “sequential art” as Scott McCloud and Will Eisner call them. Ways that stories are told from panel to panel fascinate me. For this post, though, I am going to toss out that sequential storytelling and, instead, dwell on the comic book cover.

The cover isn’t generally sequential the way comics’ interiors are… but I think that comic book covers pack a lot of punch. I think that, when done well, covers (of almost anything – books, dvds, etc.) have a certain iconography and power. Not that mine are done all that well.

I mentioned it in this earlier post about Mike Mignola: comic covers are an example of a metonym – or maybe synecdoche (I get those two fancy English Lit words mixed up a bit – and they overlap.) More vernacularly put: the cover is a single image that stands in for an entire story. So the cover sort of crystalizes the story down to a single moment. It tends to need a lot of energy, a lot of punch. 

Interior comic art tends to take a back seat to narrative. If a single image draws too much attention to itself, then the reader gets sucked into the virtuosity of the artist, more than the sequential story. (This is something that Art Spiegelman has explained – and there’s an analogy in something Sondheim talks about. In interviews he says that some of his early lyrics make it sound like there’s a poet in the room.)

Cover of Marvel Comics' Avengers No. 85, 1970, art by John Buscema. An excellent cover that has almost nothing to do with the narrative inside.

Anyhow… comic book covers… have a certain fairly powerful iconography. Some of this is in the lettering – ie: the familiar masthead, the branding, the unique story title. Some of this is in the drawing. Unfortunately, you can’t judge a book by its cover. The cover is often done by a different and better artist than  the interior… and even when it’s the same artist, the cover is a step above the interior.

As I was scanning some of my old sketchbooks for two earlier posts, I was noticing that here and there I tap into that comic cover iconography.

I’ll sketch stuff – from jury duty to meetings – and I’ll put it on a comic book cover. None of these are wildly successful, but I think they’re a fun sort of thing to play around with. I’ve collected a few of these above and below… and I’ve never gotten past the cover and drawn the interior of any of these.

Dystopia comics cover from Sketchbook No. 25, 1992, watercolor and ink

The Incredible Bickering Community comic cover, from Sketchbook No. 47, 2004 - one of a very large number of sketches drawn during meetings at L.A. Eco-Village

Annals of Shading comics cover, from Sketchbook No. 60, 2011

Click on any of the images to enlarge.

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One Response to “Some of My Comic Book Cover Sketches”

  1. federico Says:

    i think the annals of shading is one of my favorites. it would be interesting if you manage to get a story out of that one.

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