Posts tagged: Kevin Hopps

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.

Young Justice #14 out today!

Young Justice #14 Cover

Young Justice #14 Cover

OK, I’m pretty excited about this one. Not only is it the start of a new storyline set in Atlantis, but this issue marks my debut as inker of the interior of the book!

I’ve been inking the covers since I started on the series, but this is the first I’ve had a chance to ink any interior stuff at DC. Taking on this additional step in the artwork has given me a chance to futher tighten up the rendering as well as add greater detail to the finished pages. This was a challenging story to start but I think the comic really benefited, as there was a ton of Atlantean architecture to play with, as well as some epic scenes with a large cast of characters. Check it out, and I’d love to hear from you all on what you think of not only the artwork but this new storyline!

As always, you can pick up the comic in digital form or at your local comic shop, and questions and comments are always welcome!

Preview of Young Justice #14 – OUT WEDNESDAY!

Young Justice #14 Cover

Young Justice #14 Cover

DC Comics has posted a 5-page preview of Young Justice #14, due out tomorrow, March 21. It’s the first part of a new Atlantis storyline, written by Greg Weisman and Kevin Hopps, penciled and inked by myself, and colored by Zac Atkinson. That’s right, and now inking the book in addition to penciling it starting with this issue, and I’m pretty excited about it.

I’ve posted a few pages from the preview below, and you can see more pages at the DC Comics site. Then be sure to pick the issue up at your local comics shop or in digital form!

Young Justice #14 page 1

Young Justice #14 page 1

Young Justice #14 page 2

Young Justice #14 page 2

Young Justice #14 page 4

Young Justice #14 page 4

Creating a Cover: Young Justice #11

Time to break down the creation of another cover! This time it’s Young Justice #11, the first part of a storyline featuring Ra’s al Ghul, a villain who has been a favorite of mine for years. He was one of three villains declared off limits during my run on The Batman Strikes (the others being Two-Face and Scarecrow), so despite my 44-issue run on that Batman title, I’d never had a chance to draw Ras’ professionally before, and I really wanted to knock it out of the park.

When we starting talking about cover designs this time, I learned that Ra’s was our villain and that the story featured an encounter between Ra’s and Batman and Robin, but I didn’t know much about the rest of the story, as the script wasn’t final yet. My first instinct was to pay homage to one of the early Neal Adams covers that represent the comics that made me fall in love with the character in the first place. Here are the covers I was suggesting along with my notes to writer Greg Weisman and my editor Jim Chadwick. (Notes in blue.)

Batman #232

Batman #232 – First appearance of Ra’s. I think it would be fun to swap Batman and Robin’s position on the cover. With or without the same text.

Treasury Edition

Treasury Edition collection of the early Ra’s al Ghul stories – Again I think it would be fun to swap Batman and Robin’s roles. If Talia isn’t in the story, we’d have to decide if there’s another character to put in her place in the composition, or whether to eliminate the figure.

Even if we do a new composition, I’d love to do a cover with a big, ghostly Ra’s figure in the background as in either of these two covers.

Batman #244

Batman #244 – I’m guessing the Lawrence of Arabia setting wouldn’t work, but I think the Ra’s and Batman figures could be recast as Ra’s and Robin.

Not knowing the specifics of the plot, I didn’t know if any of these were remotely appropriate – even as a symbolic cover. Greg responded with the following suggestions of his own that tied in more specifically to the script-in-progress:

1. A confrontation at a missile launch site. (Which I think is more or less where the story opens.)

2. Something Lazarus Pit oriented where someone or something is rising out of the pit. (Which I think is more or less where the issue ends).

I asked for more specifics about what Greg had in mind regarding a “missile launch site,” but a Lazarus Pit scene captured my imagination. I suggested the following:

What about Ra’s rising from a Lazarus Pit in the foreground, with a missile launching from the pad (symbolically) behind him, with Batman and Robin looking on in alarm, either as figures or as ghostly images like Ra’s in two of those classic covers? (I can clarify this with a sketch if it sounds like a direction we’d want to pursue.)

I assume whatever Ra’s is wearing in the story we’d want him in his main costume for the cover, unless he’s seen rising from the pit in which case I’d prefer him bare-chested.

Greg and Jim liked the direction of a Lazarus Pit scene, even though it meant a symbolic cover that depicted a scene that did not literally take place in the story.I wanted Ra’s to be the focus of the piece and make him look powerful, with Robin the next most prominent figure as he’s the only character on the cover who’s a regular star of the book. I settled on a low angle shot looking up at and past Ra’s with Robin closest to Ra’s in the foreground with Batman further back (and therefor smaller.) I did this relatively tight sketch for approval. The dark setting served to simplify the background and keep the focus on the characters, as well as allow for dramatic under-lighting. I tried to make the image more dynamic by using strong vertical lines in perspective, which can be seen not only in the background architecture, but in the Lazarus Pit goo dripping off of Ra’s.

As always, I was careful to leave enough room at the top for the Young Justice logo and other DC Comics trade dress.

Young Justice #11 - Cover Rough

Young Justice #11 – Cover Rough

The sketch was approved, so it was relatively straightforward to proceed with pencils and inks. I elaborated on the doorway Batman in running through, trying to pull in some of the architectural detail of the Fortress Al Ghul location where the Lazarus Pit would be located in our story, a location seen in episode 6 of the TV show, “Infiltrator.” Pencils and inks by me are seen below, plus color by Zac Atkinson.

Young Justice #11 - Cover Pencils

Young Justice #11 – Cover Pencils

Young Justice #11 - Cover Inks

Young Justice #11 – Cover Inks

Young Justice #11 - Cover Color

Young Justice #11 – Cover Color

And there you have it! This turned out to be one of my favorite covers for the series so far, and some others must have liked it as I saw it used in a number of articles previewing DC titles coming out that month. And the story inside turned out to be a lot of fun, too! You can check it out in digital form or at your local comic shop.

I’ll be doing a Commentary blog entry on this issue soon, and will be doing another “Creating a Cover” entry for Young Justice #12 sooner still!

Coming in June: Young Justice #17

Young Justice #17

Young Justice #17

YOUNG JUSTICE #17 – On Sale June 20, 2012
Written by Greg Weisman and Kevin Hopps, art and cover by Christopher Jones.

Kobra is back — and he’s scheming to become a god! Robin, Kid Flash and Artemis tackle Mammoth and Shimmer! Guest-starring Batman, The Flash and Green Arrow!
  • 32 pages
  • Color
  • $2.99 US

Issues #1-13 are currently available and #14 is out this week! Pick an issue up in digital form or at your local comic shop!