It’s the long-overdue return of my Creating a Cover series! I promise I’ll go back and fill in the issues I’ve skipped, but I wanted to do a piece on cover for the just-solicited Young Justice #23 as it seems to have generated some interest.
This was another issue where we were able to sort through some cover ideas in email conversation so I didn’t have to do a bunch of sketches that weren’t going to be used. Since I knew our villain was a redesigned (by me) Kylstar, I thought it would be fun to do a close up of our bad guy and show the heroes facing him reflected in the facets of his crystalline form. Of course, we’d used that trick a couple of times before, most notably on the cover to Young Justice #09 which showed the team reflected on the surface of the metallic body of Captain Atom. (Check out Creating a Cover: Young Justice #9 for more information on that!)
Of course then it occurred to me – Kylstar is a Captain Atom villain! There’s a connection! Which means this could be an homage! Or at least that provided an excuse…
This is the “proof of concept” sketch I submitted for approval, based on email discussions with my editor Sarah Gaydos and series writer Greg Weisman. I posed Kylstar as similarly to Captain Atom as his very different proportions would allow. I also brought his hand up into the shot to further mimic the Captain Atom image. Having his hand in the frame also gave me more facets to play with for images.
On the Captain Atom cover I had one image of the team reflected across his body. With Kylstar, I thought it would be fun to have fragmented images of the heroes repeating across his various facets. I wanted to strategically feature good reflections of the heroes, but then fill other facets with random fragments of reflections. I didn’t want this to become a flat, two-dimensional mosaic of reflections, so I planned the shot to use edge lighting on the facets at fairly oblique angles to bring out the dimensionality of the Kylstar figure, while using the facets facing us more flat-on for the reflections.
This concept was enthusiastically approved, so it was time to actually draw the cover!
Notice that I repositioned Kylstar slightly in the finished artwork. The changes are subtle, but I was trying to maximize the dynamics of the composition. I made more obvious changes to what reflections went where.
You can see that some portions of this artwork are in black and others are in grey. The black image featuring Kylstar was drawn as one piece of artwork, and the reflections of the heroes seen here in gray were drawn separately. This allowed me to play with the placement of the reflections and have bits of the reflections repeat on different Kylstar facets. The artwork was submitted to colorist Zac Atkinson with the reflections as a separate layer, hopefully making it easier for him to work with them at the coloring stage. Or at least giving him the option of isolating them more easily, depending on his process.
I wanted to make sure that my original intent for how this should be treated tonally was communicated, so I applied the approach from my original proof-of-concept sketch to the inks to create this reference guide which I also sent to Zac.
Here is the stunning result of Zac’s coloring. I especially love the treatment he gave to Kylstar’s eyes. I’d originally imagined them a cyan color, but I think the burning yellow-orange makes for a great contrast with the cool blues of the rest of the image.
Look for more of Kylstar in coming issues of Young Justice! Issue #20 will be out THIS WEDNESDAY, which represents the comic’s shift to the Season 2 / Young Justice: Invasion time-frame. You can find Young Justice at your local comics shop or in digital form!