Time to break down the creation of another cover! This time it’s Young Justice #10, the second half of our Captain Atom murder mystery story! Last issue featured Captain Atom on the cover and no action, so there was a desire to see conflict with our costumed villain, who appeared at the end of the previous issue.
The villain in question is Rako (aka The Cambodian), and you can read more about the redesign of this character in a previous blog post. Once again I was designing a cover before the script for the story, so I didn’t have anything to draw from other than being told there was a fight with The Cambodian at an Asian-styled mansion, and that Superboy being cut by the Cambodian’s sword was a major story point.
Again I started with a template that used a logo masthead from a previous issue to help block out how the cover art I was designing would fit together with those elements on the finished cover. My first thought was to reference the Cambodian character’s first appearance in Captain Atom #7 by echoing the poses of The Cambodian and Captain Atom. There would be no torrent of energy glowing from Superboy’s wound and he was being sliced across the chest rather than the abdomen, but it seemed like the pose still worked. The original Captain Atom cover had no background, but I suspected my editor would want to see more of the Young Justice team than just Superboy, so I provided variations with and without the rest of the team rushing to Superboy’s aid, with the intent of including some additional background detail of sketch b were chosen.
I thought I’d offer a different angle on the action, and came up with a composition that would only show The Cambodian from behind, leaving him more mysterious, but framing the Young Justice team dramatically with the dark shape of his armor. Again, I offered versions with only Superboy and the whole team. You might notice that some of the figures are identical between the sketches. When quickly creating different compositions like this, I sometimes draw figures and use them as “building blocks,” assembling them in different arrangements in Adobe Photoshop to get the composition I want.
Sketch b was chosen, but Greg Weisman said that Aqualad and Artemis weren’t going to be present during the fight sequence being depicted, which was just as well as it uncluttered the image a bit. You can see where I found room to suggest a bit of background in the pencil art – I set the battle on the roof as that seemed to offer more space for Robin and Miss Martian to approach from above. As it turns out this battle is located entirely inside in the actual story, but I don’t think anyone will complain. After completed the inks, I threw some color onto the image in Photoshop to act as a color guide for the Cambodian’s armor and to show how the glowing sword was to be treated.
Here you can see the artwork in full color. I normally love interactive light sources in artwork, and the lineart suggested that the sword’s energy was behaving as a light source, but I think the electric blue is a bit overpowering here. You lose the blackness of the Cambodian’s armor, and with the light pastel colors used for the background it seems a bit jumbled. But I think it’s still a pretty solid cover, and on the right you can see it with the “trade dress” of the logos and other masthead elements.
I’ll be doing a Commentary blog entry on this issue in a couple of weeks, and will be doing another “Creating a Cover” entry for Young Justice #11 in a month’s time!