Hey folks, here’s our first installment in CUP O’ DOODLES. While more than a dodle of course, I thought this image was appropriate for this week and of course the name of my column. Most weeks won’t be as elaborate as this week, but I figured lets start with a bang.
When I received this cover assignment from Steve Wacker he gave me a quick rundown of the premise. I loved the idea of Spidey trying to stay up around the clock as an endless deterrent to crime in NYC. So knowing that, I decided to use NYC iconography, basically street signage, in order to convey the idea of staying up all night or just trying to stay awake. With “Amazing Spider-Man” #593, I thought what better way to do this than to use Harry’Osborn’s Coffee Bean franchise.
The first thing I looked into was creating a definitive logo for the Coffee Bean and signage. While it had been drawn in the interior of a few books, I wanted to clean it up a bit and create a graphic that other artists could use on a consistent basis whenever they needed it. I did a few pencil doodles and then sent those doodles to one of our in-house designers. This logo was fully realized by the immensely talented Patrick McGrath.
The next step for me was to create a layout that I felt had a nice flow to it and used the signage dramatically, almost taking up more importance than Spider-Man. This was actually originally done very small as I tend to sketch much smaller than actual size.
Now using my Cintiq drawing tablet I started to do a much tighter digital layout of the piece using the logo created by Patrick. While I thought this was somewhat working, I hated the figure of the bad guy wrapped in webbing. For my money, he was destroying the flow of the viewer’s eye on the cover and lacked dimensionality. Also, in this version, the bad guy looks like he’s suffocating to death, while Spidey enjoys a nice cup of java.
I doodled in a newer figure which I liked a lot more. I was pleased with the way his torso slumped over and broke the plain of the sign adding some depth to the piece. Also note the steam from Spidey’s coffee cup, it was designed in an attempt to get the reader’s eye to move from left to right and then top to bottom leading them down to Spidey and near the cup, it was designed to mirror the Coffee Bean logo.
My deadline was crashing down on me, so when that happens, I resort to using my more than overweight self as a model. This shows how I use photo ref to try to make it all work and the drawing a bit quicker.
Okay, the top figure has been laid out, I extended the bad guy’s left leg a little for balance.
Wacker told me that he enjoyed when I used the logo as part of the art and design, so with that in mind, I took the ASM logo and stretched and pulled it until it looked as if Spidey had written it himself between buildings. I used the same effect on Spidey #600, but more on that one some other day. So, now looking at this layout, I feel confident that the reader’s eye is going to start at reading the title of the book, move over to the bad guy webbed at the top of the sign, follow the steam down to Spidey and the end on the big ol’ Coffee Bean sign. This baby is now ready to be penciled.
My next step is that I print out my electronic layout at full cover size and then I use a light box to create the final look before it goes to Danny Miki for the magic. It’s here at the penciling stage that things may change slightly or that I’ll add little details and lighting.
Danny’s final inks, what can I say, he’s perhaps one of the best inkers in the history of the comic’s medium. By the way, Danny hates when I put the logo into the art as I’m sure it sucks even more to ink than it does to pencil it.
And of course the same can be said about Morry Hollowell as a colorist. Richard Isanove, my usual colorist was way overbooked so I asked for Morry as I feel he’s doing some amazing work.
Okay, so there you have it, just a few of the steps that goes into making a cover and if I seem a bit obsessive and as if tend to over think this stuff, well, you’re right.