“You fix computers? Can you do X for me?”
This is the question that makes me shiver. Yes, I am good at some things on the computer. That does not mean that I’m good at all things on the computer. I also don’t know the state of your computer make-up and settings. You are not aware that what you think is simple could very much take weeks. We can go there, but are you ready?
Are you really? Oh, and it will cost you a little money.
I’m just sayin’.
The same can be said of a comic book cover. You could approach an artist and say, “Make a comic book cover for me!” The first artist I approached was hesitant. Perhaps you, like me, are blissfully unaware of all the moving parts on a comic book cover.
Pull up a seat, boys and girls. This is gonna be a long one.
And messy. You’re in for a doozy.
Step One: Find an Artist
If you’re truly cheap, you can go with Fivrr.com. It is a misconception that everything on the site is $5. Besides, you probably wouldn’t want a cover made for $5.
Another option is to find an artist on Upwork.com. This is great until you realize Upwork is taking a very hearty 20% of the take.
As a fellow creative, I felt sick thinking of a poor artist out there slaving away for 80%. Since all of your artists are fighting for your project, they are already trying to under-bid each other. Of course you’re going to select a lower bid (usually). Your selected artist is getting 80% of an already low bid.
So I just went to Google. I knew I wanted an artist from The Philippines. They have excellent work ethics, speak (or write) fluent English, and don’t charge a ton. There are exceptions in every culture, but that’s where I started my search.
When you find a potential worker, check out his or her portfolio. There are so many artists and styles to pick from. If you don’t get an immediate vibe from the imagery, don’t waffle. Don’t try to talk yourself into it. Move on. Plenty of fish in the sea, and all that.
It is standard to pay a ½ deposit up front and then the other half upon delivery. Stick with that method. You never know what might happen. No harm, no foul if it doesn’t work out. Do not ask for free work prior to making a deposit. That is rude. Would you want somebody to do that to you?
Step Two: Character Development
The artist needs to get a “feel” for your characters, how they look, and how they are colored. This process took a couple weeks.
After telling your artist about the characters, write up a short bio of each character (about a paragraph). I wrote a full backstory for each, but they were so long that they turned into the first three issues.
Well, shucks. The thing just writes itself, doesn’t it?
Here are the main 5 characters standing in a neutral pose. This let her get the sizing and coloring right.
After that, she drew up how they would look in action. This was an exciting step. Here’s where my characters came to life.
Isbaal – The Leader
King David’s Mighty Men, aka The 30, are elite warriors. They are special forces and King David’s personal guard. The Three are above The 30. Isbaal leads The Three. He is a master of hand-held weapons. He switches easily from two-handed to one-handed weapons. He can fight with both hands when the occasion arises. He has been known to wield a two-handed weapon with a single hand.
Let me at ‘im.
Eleaza – The Old Sniper
Eleaza is the best there is when it comes to distance weapons. He used to fight side-by-side with Commander Abishai. Each one has saved the life of the other on countless occasions. Eleaza still feels a strong debt to Abishai. He has fought in one too many battles over the years. Now he just wants to be left alone. He keeps his skills sharp through daily practice.
I’m tired of war.
Shammah – The Hand-to-Hand Expert
Shammah is just having a good time in general. He has an easy smile and a fresh personality. His eyes twinkle when he puts on a mischievous grin (which he does a lot). He fights hand-to-hand, and he does it well. He learned his skills from a monk in India. He paid a sack of gold for 6 months of training. He added these new moves to his already impressive martial art style.
I am the GOAT!
Commander Abishai – Leader of The 30
Abishai fought for years as a member of The 30 Mighty Men. He fought side-by-side with Eleaza. Now past his prime, he has moved to an advisory position. He is the main commander of King David’s Army. He is also the leader of The 30. He technically outranks Isbaal, but treats him as an equal. Nobody tells Isbaal what to do. Nobody.
Move out, men!
King David – Blessed by God
King David was appointed by God to replace Saul as king of Israel. He is a vicious fighter who can use any weapon after seeing it demonstrated once. As a young man, he killed a giant. He likes his opponents to be bigger than he is. Though he is surrounded by highly skilled fighters, he hardly needs them. Being chosen by God, he is nigh unkillable.
My God will protect me and keep me.
Step Three: Design the Cover
We got all the characters. It’s time to put them on a stage.
Comic book covers are meant to entice readers. It’s usually an exaggeration of something from the actual issue. Readers are used to not seeing the literal scene in the story. Since this free preview is going to introduce all the characters, I wanted the cover to show the three main heroes.
Here’s the basic direction I gave to the artist:
The Three are standing back-to-back while Philistines are attacking all around. This could be on a mountain top, or just a high raised area (Philistines are attacking from below them). The enemy is armed with ropes, spears, clubs, and bare hands. Each should be dressed in leather armor with a short sword on his belt (if not drawn).
Isbaal will have several arrows sticking out of him (based on his back story–he has extra stamina). He will look angry. Shammah will be in an attack pose and smiling. Eleaza will look dark and serious. He has an axe drawn back to throw. A dagger will appear in his other hand.
Armed with what she had learned of my characters, she came back with this sketch. I think it looked awesome. I could already see the completed cover in my mind.
With my approval, she fleshed it out a bit. This was even more exciting.
Step Four: Add the Logo and Cover Elements
It helps if you look at the same cover image with some numbers overlaid. There’s a lot going on for a cover.
- The top-left of a comic book cover traditionally has a portrait-box (that’s what I call it). This has the pertinent details of the issue. It contains the following:
- Comic Title
- Issue Number
- Headshots or a full body action (I’ve seen it both ways)
- Logo of the comic publisher
Wait a tic. We don’t have a logo for the comic publisher! I quickly put on my thinking cap. I want to create a whole line of comics based on The Bible. The flagship series will be The Three, but if it is successful, I’ll keep going. I picked the name “Faith Comics.”
I did a search first to make sure that nobody was already using “Faith Comics.” There is a comic book character named “Faith,” but there is no Faith Comics.
I called it.
I’ll worry about getting the trademarks and copyrights later. Here in the US, as long as you can prove “first use,” it is automatically copywritten.
So, let it be known that FAITH COMICS was launched in January of 2021.
[insert harmonious chorial music]
I still didn’t have a logo. I asked my poor designer to “make me a logo” without giving her any direction.
I like what she came up with.
Now THAT’S out of the way.
Let’s look at that finished portrait box…
- Tagline. This is where you would put the name of the series (the “7 of 9” business). I don’t have a series going, so I wanted to go with “King David’s Mighty Men.”
I have seen the “tagline” all over the place on covers. It was no big deal when the artist felt it looked better beside #6, at the bottom of the cover.
- Byline. I was inspired by the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics of my youth. I like the big ol’ bylines above the logo. This also felt like a book cover to me. I’ve seen covers without a byline or a small byline.
You do you.
- Main Logo. Here’s where you put the main logo for the comic. This will look similar on every issue. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. This can be displayed in different colors, modified, scaled, and broken as the artist is inspired.
Usually this is the same.
Now we had to take off on another bunny trail and make a logo for The Three.
She came back with a few options. Here’s what I decided on:
- Character Elements. Study the artwork carefully. It is easy to miss tiny details. Your artist is not a mind-reader. They are also human. On careful study, I had some questions about the color used to display Isbaal. You’ll see in the final image that it is slightly darker.
- Main Title. This is the star of the show. This should be big, bold lettering. This should pop out first when you look at a comic book cover. This is the “hook.”
Step Five: Soak it all in
When it came back, it gave me chills. It was finally done. After months of work, it was finally done.
Are you ready?
Are you psyched?
As you can see, just the cover has many steps. The average comic has at least six artists working on it.
- Rough Sketches (Storyboards)
- Line Art
- Inker (Cleanup)
- Background Artist
Every additional artist is helping one of the above. I’ve got four. And only one of those is full time.
Read the comic for FREE
Please support our vision by reading my stuff online! It will be available on the major social platforms. Found us on Facebook? Stay tuned to Facebook. Found us on Twitter? The same applies…
You do you.
Our plan is to add one new artist per issue. With each addition, the comics will come out faster. My end-goal is to have one issue done per month. How the heck does Marvel churn out a comic in two weeks? They must have a lot of artists working each issue (and working fast!).
When the first ten pages are done, I will be releasing the PREVIEW #0 issue for FREE.
The story will conclude with the remaining 10 pages. All 20 pages will be collected into issue #1. This one you’ll have to pay for.
I am chomping at the bit to show the world all the stories I have planned. Unfortunately, I can write in a single afternoon a story that may take months to produce.
That’s the life of a comic book series…
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Until next time…