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Creating the Best Comic Cover (part 1)

Creating the best cover for your comic using Wolf Boy and the Magical Warriors

Creating the best cover art

Choosing and then creating the best image to show off your comic is a huge challenge. How can you think of and then create the cover for your most beloved book, your treasure, the thing you spent months or years on? The entire process of creating a comic, from start to finish is artistically and intellectually stimulating, but it’s plenty of hard work. Creating the best cover art can be extra stressful.

Creating a great cover means bringing out the best in yourself and others

• What’s expected from creators (perfection)
• What’s realistic (not perfection)
• How to support the artist

Click here for Creating the best Comic Cover (part 2): How to Work with Artists without Hurting Their Feelings.

The perfect cover…seriously?

Everyone who writes or makes books has heard about the importance of the perfect cover. Not just a good cover, but the perfect cover. Huh? What does that mean? Apparently, without the perfect cover, your precious book will not sell a single copy and you will die! That’s right, die of heartache. Like Captain Ahab searching for the white whale, there can be no substitute.

Here’s an example of what I mean…

Book cover is the first impression that a book creates on its potential readers. A book cover design is one of the most important aspects of marketing a books. If the cover is unprofessional you will guaranteedly loose sales, so one must use a professional book cover designer for their book cover. [read more…]

Well, you get the picture. The editor in me wants to correct that last sentence to – guaranteed to lose sales – but that’s beside the point.

How do you deliver perfection? Is that even possible? In short, no. If you wait for perfection, you’ll never finish your book because you’ll be too stressed out about having the perfect book and the perfect cover. As we used to say in New York, Fahgettaboudit! That way of thinking will drive you nuts and stop you dead in your tracks.

Aim for your best, highest, most excellent work

Aim for the best, highest, most excellent work you have to offer. Always put everything you’ve got into your work because if not, you won’t be satisfied, and often times, people notice a lack of effort.

Since perfection is impossible, what do you do? Fahgettaboudit! Move on, finish your book, publish it (self publish or with a traditional publisher) and feel proud of your accomplishment. And of course, promote the crap out of it! But that’s another subject. [FYI click here for an article I found helpful on how to promote your books.]

How writers can support artists

We’re not talking financial support here, people. Emotional support. When Miguel and I create comics, we share most of the work, but the responsibility for producing the art is all on his shoulders. We discuss what we think would be a good scenario, layouts, storytelling, timing, etc., and then he creates it. However, the cover is a bit different. We both need to agree on the final image. This can sometimes be challenging.

I insist on two things that often drive him crazy. It’s like upping the ante in a poker game. The cover needs to hook readers as well as show off the characters’ personalities or reveal something about the story. Geez Louise! That’s a tall order. He has my full sympathy! But in the end, if we’re both happy with it, odds are that others will like it too.

While he’s working on the cover, what can I do other than twiddle my thumbs? Not much. Be patient and supportive. It’s up to the artist to allow the ideas percolate and take form in their mind. A good idea is often the easy part. Getting your hand to execute it on paper is another challenge entirely. Hats off to artists everywhere! R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Advice for artists – do a few sketches first

See what works and where to improve things. Talk to the writer, creator, editor,…. (whomever you’re working with). Sometimes artist’s invest too much time on their first illustration and feel like it’s ‘wasted’ energy if they have to abandon it. That’s not true at all. Occasionally, the first illustration is a home run, but not always. Keep yourself motivated and curious and you’ll be able to go with the flow more easily and hit upon a cover that is as close as you can get to perfect.

Ask yourself one question – are you happy with it?

After all of your hard work, you may end up with something really good. Here is a perfect example (see below). This is a beautiful cover illustration that Miguel did for Wolf Boy and the Magical Warriors (vol.1): The Flushing of Atlantis [read more…]. It’s fun and engaging and contains most of the elements we discussed. He knew I really liked it, but didn’t love it…and I could tell he didn’t love it either. But he was tired of it and wanted to move on to something else.

Click here for Creating the best Comic Cover (part 2): How to Work with Artists without Hurting Their Feelings.

Wolf Boy and the Magical Warriors (vol.1) the Flushing of Atlantis illustration

Don’t settle when you know you could do better

One thing about Miguel that makes him such a good artist is that he’s never satisfied. He works hard to improve his skills every day in order to capture what’s in his imagination and put it on paper. It’s time consuming and all encompassing, but when he pushes himself that extra bit further, the results are always fantastic. He never ceases to amaze me.

After a deep breath, I tried as gently as I could to mention that this is a great cover, but the characters weren’t as exaggerated as we had discussed (gulp). He didn’t want to do it again and I wasn’t going to insist.

About a month later he surprised me. He actually took some of my suggestions, sat down at his desk and got to work on another version. And are we happy he did!

Finally, the cover for Wolf Boy and the Magical Warriors (ba-ba-ba-bum…)

Wolf Boy and the Magical Warriors (vol.1) the Flushing of Atlantis illustration
Original illustration
Wolf Boy and the Magical Warriors (vol.1) the Flushing of Atlantis cover art
New illustration

Miguel and I both loved this cover. We showed it to our kids, who happen to be our target age group, and their reaction was so much more enthusiastic. Now it was time to show it around. Every time someone looked at it, they laughed or smiled. The perfect reaction!

All of the same elements are in both illustrations, but there are two major differences:

• It’s much more dynamic. You can feel the energy. The wave is ready to crash down on them, they’re all moving towards the camera (viewer), the facial expressions and body language are more visibly reacting to the wave. They are definitely in the middle of an emergency situation.

• Each character has their own personality. Tessi the Amazon is ready to slice through the watery enemy, Monkey King is tube riding the barrel of a wave while his friends hang on, and Wolf Boy is oblivious to the danger and having a great time. After all, he is the sweetest idiot you’ll ever know.

Any final thoughts?

You cannot achieve the perfect cover, so Fahgettaboudit! However, you can create the best possible. They key is — you must be honest with yourself. Make sure it’s truly the best that you can do. That way you have no regrets and you can feel proud of your achievement. Readers (and publishers) will appreciate it. Woohoo! High five(^▽^)/\(^▽^)

Wolf Boy and the Magical Warriors (vol.1) the Flushing of Atlantis cover

Related links:

 Creating the best Comic Cover (part 2): How to Work with Artists without Hurting Their Feelings

Wolf Boy and the Magical Warriors book information

All art and updates for Wolf Boy and the Magical Warriors 

Wolf Boy and the Magical Warriors FREE SAMPLE

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