Character Designs & Creating a Cover: Young Justice #14

We’re going to jump ahead in sequence of our Creating a Cover series, and we’re combining it with the next installment of Character Designs. That’s because most of what there is to tell about this cover is about the desgin work that needed to be done for it, and there are SO MANY new characters appearing in Young Justice #14 that I thought I’d get a few of them out of the way with this entry before detailing the rest of them in a separate entry on YJ #14 in the near future.

Long before I drew the issue itself and even before I’d seen a final script for the story, I needed to design the cover for the issue, needed early for publicity and solicitation purposes. The scenario I was given was to do an underwater downshot of Aqualad, Miss Martian and Superboy surrounded by Hooded Atlantean Purists. Furthermore, Superboy was to be wearing one of Aqualad’s spare costumes, but MINUS the Water-Bearers, BackPack and “A” belt buckle. He was also to be sporting a clear oxygen mask that covers his mouth and nose with some form of filter/re-breather attachment. Miss Martian was to have shape-shifted into a more underwater-friendly form, having ditched her usual cape and morphed herself to copy Lori Lemaris’s mermaid tail from the waist down and having grown Aqualad-like gills on her neck.  She was also meant to be shorter than usual, but that didn’t end up being a big issue with the floating figures on the cover.

The Purists were meant to be cloaked and hooded Atlanteans of Aquaman’s type, i.e. to the naked eye they look completely human.  Like all Atlanteans, there were to have bare feet.  I was also instructed that their eyes were to magically glow from within the shadowed depths of their hoods.

Miss Martian’s mermaid form was almost a non-issue, as it was just putting the top of her body on the bottom of the design for Lori Lemaris, plus adding gills identical in design to Aqualad. Superboy was basically in Aqualad’s costume minus key accessories, plus the addition of an oxygen maks. And I had to design the Purists.

Purists first:

Atlantean Purist A
Atlantean Purist A
Atlantean Purist B
Atlantean Purist B
Atlantean Purist C
Atlantean Purist C

I wanted to give the Purists interesting looking hoods, as I figured we’d be getting a lot of shots of these hoods serving as close-ups of characters in the actual story. I also wanted lots of draping fabric that could swirl in the water and make interesting shapes and suggest movement. The draping sleeves and tabards tended to get even more elongated once I was actually drawing the story. The whole design evolved a little bit once I started drawing pages, but we stayed close enough to the approved model that no one complained! I wasn’t sure about a color scheme, so I put these three options together, half-expecting to have someone suggest an option D. Version B was chosen, but which do YOU prefer?

Superboy Underwater Mask
Superboy Underwater Mask

Next up was Superboy’s air mask. I wanted to keep this simple and unobtrusive. I wanted Superboy’s face and expressions to be unobscured, and I figured we were dealing with advanced Atlantean technology and we didn’t need to be constrained by anything resembling current diving gear and oxygen tanks. This is what I came up with, and it actually became further simplified in the story, losing those square-ish bits at the corners of his jaw.

So now it was time to design a cover!

Young Justice #14 - cover rough 1

Young Justice #14 – cover rough 1

This was a relatively tight drawing for a cover rough, but we seemed to be pretty firmly locked into a concept, so I felt I could do something fairly tight I could then use as a basis for the final pencil art. Given that the characters were floating in water, I wanted the heroes to be “surrounded” in a fairly 3-dimensional way. I tried to make it clear that the Purists were not only coming from all sides but also from above and below.

The feedback was that DC wanted a little more of a feeling of action. Also, they wanted the piece to have a little more focus, so it was suggested to emphasize Aqualad a little more since it was his story.

Young Justice #14 - cover rough 2

Young Justice #14 – cover rough 2

The revised version is pretty similar – I just changed the proportion of some of the characters, bringing Aqualad forward and pushing Superboy and Miss Martian back. I turned Miss Martian’s head to better show off the gills on her neck. Aqualad is now deflecting a magical attack from one of the Purists with one of his hard water blades.

This version was approved, so from there it was the routine progression of pencils and inks, with color by Zac Atkinson.

Young Justice #14 - Cover Pencils

Young Justice #14 – Cover Pencils

Young Justice #14 - Cover Inks

Young Justice #14 – Cover Inks

Young Justice #14 - Cover Color

Young Justice #14 – Cover Color

And there you have it!  Young Justice #14 goes on sale TODAY both in digital form or at your local comic shop!

As always, questions and comments are welcome.


  • By Eddy, March 22, 2012 @ 7:22 am

    Loved it – though I was hoping for more Silver Age than Arion characters. Was M’chiste a reference to Warlord’s pal Machiste? His hair resembles Machiste’s crown.

  • By Christopher Jones, March 22, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

    I think of the “low-hanging fruit” of Silver Age Atlantean characters were already established in the “Downtime” episode of the TV show. M’Chiste is indeed a reference to the Warlord character, but don’t infer much of a connection beyond the name and the haircut!

  • By Yojimbo, March 23, 2012 @ 12:29 am

    That was a nice balance of Aquaman characters debuting, nearly hit every decade I think (Ronal from the 60s, Cal Durham from the 70s, Chian and Wyyrden from the 80s, and King Shark and Blubber from the 90s). Must have been a fun exercise designing them for Young Justice.

    Were all the new characters from Greg Weisman and Kevin Hopps or was their some collaboration with you to choose from the Aquaman characters in the comics?

    I vote for A because when I think of purity, I think of the ocean or sky, which is blue.

  • By Christopher Jones, March 23, 2012 @ 2:00 am

    It was a lot of fun designing those characters. I’ll be posting a blog entry about that in a week or so.

    The characters were all scripted by Greg and Kevin. For some they had a pretty specific idea of what they wanted visually, others I was more free to “run with the ball.”
    It was a lot of fun designing those character. I’ll be posting a blog entry about that in a week or so. The characters were all scripted by Greg and Kevin. For some they had a pretty specific idea of what they wanted visually, others I was more free to “run with the ball.”

  • By Yojimbo, April 11, 2012 @ 4:01 am

    Cool, looking forward to it. If you can squeeze a line or two about some of the new locations like this version of Windward Home and of course, Shayeris, would be neat.

  • By Christopher Jones, April 11, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    Will do!

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