MAKING COMICS: Designing a Cover
For part two of our new feature –Making Comics, I’m handing over the reins to up-and-coming writer Darrin O’ Toole. Darrin has self-published ‘Tales from the Void’ and ‘Earthruler’ through DOT Comics. Here he talks us through the decisions and process of putting together a cover:
I’ve been asked by ICN to do an article on covers, as a lot of people have spoken very highly of the DOT Comics covers so far. I’ll talk about our process, both the wins and the losses. I’ll start with Tales from the Void, which went through several re-designs before we settled on what ended up as an excellent cover.
The initial idea came from our artist, A. Kaviraj. He said we should replicate a classic pulp cover from the era we were paying homage to. He sent on a pile of them he liked, including these ones;
Those of you familiar with Tales from the Void know right off which one we opted for; the middle one. The idea of the eye made it stand out, something essential if you are to have any hope selling a small press (or any for that matter) book that is in competition with hundreds of books each week.
I went back to Kav and told him I really liked the idea, and suggested that rather than mimic the cover, we could include strange and surreal random elements from the five stories contained within our book.
Kav got to work and came back in no time with this inked piece;
The cover had elements from all the stories, each one caught the eye, and just as importantly teased the inside contents without spoiling anything for potential buyers.
Once Kav had this piece and we knew it worked as our cover, we needed to be sure that it went through the next process perfectly; colors.
Both of us were big on the idea of trying to make the book as pulp styled as we could. We wanted it to look just like those pulp books, and color was a big part of that. It was vital that the colorist we found knew where we were coming from and could help polish the inked page, but do it in a way that gave it the authentic retro look we so desperately wanted. Kav mocked up this image that we could show colorists to show them the retro style that we wanted;
We lucked out in that our letterer, Magnus, knew a guy who he insisted was perfect for the job. Vasco Sobral came in and knew exactly what he was doing and came back with a flatted version;
He then came back with the more polished versions as we incorporated a logo, credits and barcode;
Then Vasco polished up the logo with trim and included price and DOT Comics info, along with a very subtle change of color to the eye, making it a strange green rather than a normal brown;
Altogether the cover was the longest and most back and forth part of putting Tales from the Void together. It took about a week from the initial ideas to completion.
Some pointers for when making a cover;
- Make it eye catching! Don’t just have a person standing there posing, make the potential reader be intrigued by it, wanting to know more or admiring the art.
- Have a great logo! I’ve seen so many great covers ruined by average logos. Spend time getting a great looking logo, it’s the logo that will make people remember the name of your book.
- Don’t forget the info! Barcodes are needed by retailers, plus don’t forget to put your company info on there for your small press label.
So that’s how we made the cover to Tales from the Void. It’s your turn now. Make a book, put it on the shelf of your local comic shop, and lets see if it catches our eyes!
Earthruler is available through comicsy.co.uk/dotcomics , all Dublin comic shops and Forbidden Planet Belfast.
If you’re a comic creator and want to talk about some part of the process, or if you want to suggest a particular aspect of making comics that you would like to see covered, please get in touch:
colin at irishcomicnews dot com