Indie Cover Spotlight: Bone #1

Let’s wrap up this week’s look at favorite indie books with a look at one of the giants of the filed, Jeff Smith’s Bone #1:

Do I really need to say anything about this book? Originally self published via his Cartoon Books imprint starting in 1991, this epic series went on to become a worldwide phenomena, translated into dozens of languages, with the color editions from Scholastic selling millions of copies. It’s also the first comic book series that my daughter fell in love with, devouring the giant omnibus edition in late-night reading marathon sessions.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Valkyrie #1

The original golden age Airboy’s arch-nemesis and foil became the modern day Airboy’s ally in the new Eclipse series (spotlighted here), and got several spin-off mini-series of her own. Here’s the cover to Valkyrie #1, from 1987:

Artist Paul Gulacy is another favorite of mine, though I know some people who really can’t stand his style.

Gem City Comic Con this weekend

I’m one of the guests at Gem City Comic Con this weekend, in Dayton, Ohio. Hours are Saturday March 31st, 10am – 5pm, and Sunday April 1st, 10am – 4pm

Tickets will run you a mere $8/day, or $15 for the weekend.

Other guests include Mark Waid, Larry Hamma, Dan Parent, and lots of my friends and fellow creators, like Andy Bennett, Tom Williams, Tim Fischer, and more.

If you make it to the show, please drop by my table and say hi.

Indie Cover Spotlight: The Crow #1

The iconic cover of The Crow #1, by James O’Barr, published by Caliber Comics in 1989.

Another indie comic that made a strong impression on me, way before it became a big Hollywood franchise with movies, a TV series, and multiple follow-up comics done by other creators. I loved how absolutely raw and pure this original mini-series was: unpolished, uneven, less a narrative and more an emotional catharsis.

Persia Blues – Anatomy of a cover, part 1 (of 3)

We’re hopefully on the cusp of finalizing the cover design for Persia Blues, vol. 1, so I thought it would be fun to share some of the process behind the effort. My publisher, NBM, gave us complete freedom in suggesting cover treatments. That’s great in some respects, because we have total creative freedom, but it’s also a bit of a daunting situation to be in…because we have total creative freedom. Where to start? What kind of cover would best get across the essence of the book?

I had some initial ideas that I ran past my partner on the project, artist Brent Bowman:

“Show Minoo [our protagonist] in the center of the cover. The image is “cut” somewhat diagonally across her body, with the top part in the modern day Iran and the bottom in the other reality. Since her head and upper torso are in our world, show her wearing modern clothes, and maybe she has her hand up to her ear, holding in her iPod earphones while listening to music. Her other hand/arm at the bottom is holding a sword. If there’s room, you can also depict the city and ruins as backgrounds for each reality, or maybe even show Ahriman draped over top of the cover. Feel free to further juxtapose the two different settings with different art styles.

A variation of the above idea: a vertical split between the two realities, showing Minoo in the center, leaning back against herself (like a mirror image). The Minoo on the left is modern, holding an iPod, the Minoo on the right is in her Persian clothes, holding a sword.

I’d also suggest a couple of “ensemble cast” sketches…”

Granted, those maybe aren’t the most original ideas, but hey, I’m a writer, not a graphic designer! Luckily, that’s why Brent’s here. Taking those into consideration, as well as his own ideas, Brent came up with this initial set of roughs that we shared with our editor:

The masthead obviously isn’t the final one, it’s just a placeholder to give a sense of what the illustration would look like as a full-fledged cover. Personally, I really liked the last one, the wrap-around cover design, but I had a feeling it was a bit too busy for our editor’s taste, and I was right. He liked the “split closeup” designs the most (the 2 middle ones), pointing out that with the final trim size of the book being 6 x 9, the more elaborate illustrations just wouldn’t have the same impact as a simpler, bolder design. That made sense, so we embarked on a second set of roughs, variations on the theme of the design he liked.

Next: round 2 of designs, and my “tri-head” idea.

(go here for part 2)

Indie Cover Spotlight: Roachmill #4

Another one of my all-time favorite indie comics from the 80s, Roachmill:

From Blackthorne Publishing, which basically put out a metric ton of utter garbage, except for this series. Created, written, and drawn by Rich Hedden and Tom McWeeney, back in ’86. It only lasted 6 issues with that publisher, but the duo moved it to Dark Horse for another 10 issues.

My love for Roachmill is also documented on the Ferret Press blog here, where I describe the series as having “one foot in Looney Toons and the other in Raymond Chandler.”

Indie Cover Spotlight: Marshal Law #2

This 1987 series was the first book from Marvel’s creator-owned Epic imprint that I bought, and boy did it make an impression on me. This book is viscious parody and social satire with an unapologetic swagger and a rabid bite.

Marshal Law
was Written by Pat Mills, drawn by Kevin O’Neill, and published in 1987. I can safely say I had never seen anything quite like O’Neill’s art prior to this, and it got me on a kick of going back and finding some of his previous work.

Happy No-Rooz

Today is the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. And that makes it the first day of the new year on the Persian calendar. So…

Happy No-Rooz (Persian New Year)!

You can read about the history and traditions of No-Rooz here.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Gregory, book 1

OK, technically this may not qualify as an indie book, since it came out through Piranha Press (in 1989), which was an imprint of DC Comics. But hey, it’s my blog so I can bend the rules. Plus, in terms of content, this book as as indie as they come.

Created, written, and illustrated by Marc Hempel, Gregory is a series of short stories about a happy little straitjacketed boy confined to a mental hospital. And he has a friend who’s a rat named Herman Vermin. And yes, it’s a funny book. You know, if you like your humor black. Hempel went on to create 3 more books in the series, and I adore every single one of them. They’ll definitely make you laugh, but also stifle a tear or two along the way. And excellent, under appreciated series.

All hail…hail

We had a nice little hail storm here in C-Bus about half an hour ago…

Pictures from our front yard, plus a bowl full of the stuff I scooped up.

Indie Comics Spotlight: RASL #11

Next week I’ll go back to showcasing some of the indie comics I grew up on in the 80s, but let’s warp up this week with a look at another contemporary book:

RASL #11 is by the world famous Jeff Smith (a fellow Columbusite!), self-published through his Cartoon Books.

It’s definitely a different beast than Jeff’s other series, Bone. The storyline is mature, the art a little looser, and the pacing a bit slower. I’m digging the book an awful lot…when it manages to come out. As for his cover design, it’s the kind of thing a guy can do with a creator-owned property. No way you’d get away with having your logo take up 1/2 of the cover on a corporate book.