Time to break down the creation of another cover! This time it’s Young Justice #12, the second part of a storyline featuring Clayface, for a story that tells the unique Young Justice continuity origin of the character.
Once again we had to developing the cover before a finished script was available. To be clear, this isn’t meant to imply that the scripts were late or anything. Rather it’s a function of how early the cover is needed for solicitation/promotional purposes. DC likes action covers whenever possible, and the confrontation between Clayface and The Team didn’t come until the end of the story. There was some earlier conflict between Clayface and Batman and Robin, but Batman and Robin had featured on the previous issue’s cover, so there was a real desire to show the Young Justice Team. So we fell into one of my pet peeves of comic covers – we essentially tease the issue’s cliffhanger ending on the cover. Oh, well. C’est la vie.
So the cover became less of a conceptual challenge and more of a compositional one. The mission: Design a cover featuring Superboy, Miss Martian, Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad all fighting Clayface in a sewer location. First off, the sewer had to be big to allow for all this action. The second issue was how to occupy all five heroes in combat simultaneously against a single opponent. Thankfully Clayface is not only large, but is a shape-shifter, frequently seen growing extra limbs to perform various tasks. So I placed a large Clayface figure in my sewer tunnel, with a separate arm holding each of four of the team members, with Superboy punching Clayfaces’ body, showing the futility of such an attack by splashing harmlessly into Clayface’s torso. Since Miss Martian is also a shape-shifter who has also produced extra limbs in the TV show, I thought it would be fun to give her an extra arm while she grappled with her own Clayface appendage. I placed her in the foreground so the figure would be a little larger and the extra limb a little easier to see. I wanted to have the solid parts of Clayface emerging from an amorphous mass of clay in the bottom of the sewer, making it feel the heroes were surrounded by Clayface – that we was coming from everywhere!
The sketch was well-received overall. Greg was concerned that Clayface wasn’t imposing enough, and suggesting making his figure more central. Jim Chadwick and Mark Chiarello at DC liked the asymmetrical design, and it was suggested to make Clayface proportionally larger than the heroes. They also wanted Clayface to appear more “solid” as they were already concerned about the sewer setting making Clayface look like a poo-monster.
So there wasn’t much room to make the Clayface figure bigger, so I made the heroes proportionally smaller. Rather than having the arm grappling with Miss Martian emerging from the bottom of the sewer, I had it at winding around from Clayface’s side, and I ended up flipping her position to make her work better in this tweaked composition. I also turned Clayface’s head so he was less in profile, hoping it would make him a little more menacing-looking.
As I said, this cover largely teases the cliffhanger moment at the end of the issue, and when the scene picks up at the beginning of issue 13, the script called for an arrangement remarkably similar to the cover here, so I kind of got to draw the scene again from a slightly different angle.
Pencils and inks by me are seen below, plus color by Zac Atkinson.
And there you have it! So this probably would have been a better cover for issue #13, but we used it on #12. So what did we do for #13? Watch for the next Creating a Cover blog entry to find out! Check this issue of Young Justice out in digital form or at your local comic shop. Watch for a Commentary blog entry on this issue soon!