I’d like to take some time out to discuss my cover process…
What does a vintage issue of the Justice League and a book cover depicting steroid use have anything to do with my final mock cover for my Legion of Super-Heroes pitch?!
Allow me to explain.
I love the Legion. But before there was the Legion there was the Justice League of America. God, I loved that comic! Why buy a comic that just featured ONE hero when you could buy a book that incorporated a whole TEAM? Such was the mind of a child, and quite frankly very little has changed into adulthood obviously. Fellow friend Michael Lash can appreciate this, but I fell in love with the JLA covers that featured the “floating heads” role call flushed left of the primary illustration the best. I’d think, “all these heroes are going to be in this issue?! Cool!”
So of course when it was time to devise a cover of my own, I kept those old JLA covers in the back of mind as a touchstone of sorts. I wanted to invoke that sense of wonder… however I wanted to modernize it. First off, this was something altogether new. So I dispensed with the traditional Legion of Super-Heroes logos. More to the point, I wanted my cover to look more like a modern book cover and LESS like a traditional comic cover. Something I could flex my graphic design skills with in addition to illustrating.
Now I can’t speak for everyone, but as a writer, illustrator and a graphic designer I’m not afraid to take what’s gone before and modernize or at the very least put my own unique spin on things. When at loss for inspiration I won’t hesitate to look to other designers to get a feel as to what they’ve done right. When I stumbled unto the Bases Loaded cover I knew I had found my inspiration and starting point.
The Bases Loaded cover conveyed to me a strong clean graphic where white negative space could be used. I already knew I wanted a classic “ Coming at you action pose” for the Legionnaires of universe zero. I could use the figures in conjunction with the typography to be the “bridge” of action at the top with the clean use of negative space at the bottom.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the typography. I have an extensive collection of fonts but nothing screamed “Legion of Super-Heroes” at me. I think truth be told, I just wanted an excuse to hunt down new fonts. FATSANS spoke to me immediately. I knew I had my primary font that was chunky, modern, and easy to read and to manipulate.
So when is white negative space not so negative? When I can use it to incorporate that classic vintage “role call feel” but still be modern! So I assembled headshots from previously drawn character designs to make my statement. Rest assured I was purposely strategic on which characters I used for “role call”. Emerald Empress with a Green Lantern headband? A grinning Validus? New Gods’ Vykin and Big Bear, but not exactly how you’d remember them? All designed to invoke questions.
As for the top characters, why were they used? They’re the primary heroes of the piece. As I’ve stated, it’s my preference to build on what’s gone before. The last iteration of the Legion had neophyte Legionnaires join to take the place of Legionnaires that were “lost”. My new adventure would be seen through their eyes. In truth, Glorith plays a very important role in the pitch. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t include everyone that you want into an illustration without it looking overcrowded. Brainiac 5 didn’t make the cut almost at inception, although he too plays a pivotal role as well. However, Harmonia was sketched out almost Jean Grey Phoenix-like, bringing up the top rear but was cut due to space constraints.
As for who does appear prominently, Chemical Kid, Glorith, Invisible Kid, Dream Girl, and Sensor Girl is almost a perfect balance of “new guard” intermingling with the “old”. New upstarts fighting alongside veteran Legionnaires and the friction that come from that interaction is a sub arc I wanted to play with it and I wanted to convey that in the cover from the onset. Chemical Kid is cocky and is taking the lead much to Dreamgirl’s chagrin.
And why is Chemical Kid leading the charge? Well apparently diversity is all the rage lately. All I can say is…took folks long enough. As a creator who’s a double minority, I’m not ashamed to say diversity is something I strive to infuse into my work. I had a real internal struggle as to who would be in the lead: Invisible Kid or Chemical Kid. Ultimately I chose Chemical Kid. Foremost he represents the “new” overshadowing the “old”, but more importantly, as much as African [or African-American males] are underrepresented in comics, positive Asian males are depicted even LESS. If given half the chance I’d like to do my part to change underrepresentation wherever I might find it, be it gender bias, race, or sexual identity.
Well, that’s my cover process in a lengthy nutshell. Thank you for reading my ramblings!
This is NRG the nuclear boy, boyfriend of Computo and member of the Justice Squadron. In universe 36, the Justice Squadron operates in almost the same capacity as the Legion of Super-heroes, reporting directly to the U.P.
Astute viewers will notice NRG was patterned after Legionnaire applicant ENERGY BOY created by Paul Levitz and Steve Lightle. I always thought he was rather cool looking, so this was an excuse to revisit a happy memory. I thought long and hard about the cape… then the INCREDIBLES came to mind…
Illustrator who's primary focus is drawing comic books, character design, print [illustrating book covers, posters, cds, packaging],digtial advertisements, and designing for apparel.
Current Residence: Philadelphia
Favourite genre of music: House Music
Favourite style of art: Comic Art
MP3 player of choice: Iphone
Favourite cartoon character: Unit 01
Personal Quote: If you don't stand up for SOMEthing, you'll fall for anything