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Covering cover art

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Aug. 27, 2022

Last week, over on the ole Twittersphere, we were asking the #quackchatters about creating cover art for their comics. It was an interesting discussion to go back and read as there were responses there that surprised me.

The first question of the QuackChat hour asked if creators draw some pages first or do they start with the cover of their comic? A lot of people responded that they preferred to draw the pages first. @pacificacomic wrote:

This was an interesting point to consider for me as I usually start with the cover. This is in part to get used to drawing the characters, but also because it gives me that push to begin starting the issue/chapter that I’m on. It helps narrow the focus of the story as well as set the scene in my mind.

However, it is not a bad idea to do it the other way if it works for you. Creating pages allows you to draw from scenes that you’ve already established. If you know exactly what’s going to be in the issue, it can give you a font of inspiration to draw from.

For question two, creators were asked if webcomics even needed cover art. This question sparked interesting, albeit mixed, reactions. Whilst some people said that it wasn’t necessary, particularly when it came to a comic strip, cover art was a good way of catching the readers’ attention. I found this response from @kesling_matt to be an interesting point to consider:

Cover art doesn’t just convey the tone of the comic, but also the style of art you can expect. As this is a visual medium, this manner of introducing your project and setting the expectations is a point worth considering.

In spite of the mixed reaction to whether or not webcomics need cover art, there were quite a few responses that said that they do create artworks for the beginning or end of chapters, if that format applies to their comic. This could be in the form of a panel that they really like from the webcomic or a standalone piece.

@fight_oc wrote:

This is a good point! Having comic pages as chapters/denoting the end or beginning of a new story could work really well for a webcomic that’s an anthology, or has chapters that could work in isolation.

The quackchat has interesting discussions each week. If you want to join, head on over to Twitter on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!

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Banes at 6:59PM, Aug. 28, 2022

Hmm… I like covers but stopped doing them at a certain point. These comments are making me consider adding them back in.

Jason Moon at 9:08PM, Aug. 27, 2022

Usually my cover art ends up being something much later in the story. I think it's because I just make up the story as I draw it. I try to create a crazy chaotic scene for the covers which end up being seen chapters later or not used in the story at all.

PaulEberhardt at 2:10PM, Aug. 27, 2022

Andreas raises an important point: cover art is in danger of becoming a dying art form in the digital age. It's even more visible in music, because what with digital downloads album covers are less of a factor for selling the racket. Also there isn't the luxuriously sized canvas of an LP sleeve to work with any more; yes, record companies do print LPs again, but vinyl is no longer the main medium. Quite a shame, considering how these creative covers of the 1970s (like this very fine example by Hipgnosis on top of this post) are memorable as all get out. - Btw. I drew CD covers for a punk band many years ago, and an astonishing number of people told me that they bought these CDs just because they wanted to see them on their shelves and would listen to them even once. Fair enough, as in all honesty the "music" really Sucked with a capital S. I don't think this would work any more these days, but such is the power of cover art. It might still work for other things.

PaulEberhardt at 1:47PM, Aug. 27, 2022

I did the cover for my webcomic after I'd done the first dozen pages or so, and for my print book the front and back covers were about the last things I did. I like to improvise, so that way there is a chance that the cover will have something to do with what's inside. Webcomics could theoretically do without covers, since the comic site with its banner already serves as a kind of front end, but I for one would never consider leaving it out and urge everyone else not to either. Kick-starting a comic just with page one is, to my mind, rather distasteful. Instead of the pleasant feeling of anticipation you get from a cover, it just feels as if something was missing (which it is!). The other thing that often puts me off is when people use a cover instead of a banner on top, making you scroll and scroll, always looking at the same thing whenever you move a page forward. In contrast, covers in their proper places are awesome and do wonders for the overall reading experience.

dpat57 at 3:43AM, Aug. 27, 2022

I find myself getting into the comic first, and as things develop I'll know what I want the cover page to look like. On a couple of occasions, as comics came to a close, the cover was the last page created. It's pretty good that we can shuffle page order around more easily now, so I can bump the cover up to become the first page if I want to.

hushicho at 1:27AM, Aug. 27, 2022

Oftentimes in the 50s and 60s, cover artists for comics would create outrageous covers that then the interior writers would have to make fit in whatever story they wrote. It's kind of amazing going in knowing that, because it usually only fit if you squinted, but it was still interesting to see how they would try to satisfy the promise of the cover.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 1:05AM, Aug. 27, 2022

My approach to this may be a bit unorthodox, since I use both cover art for each issue/volume and cover art for chapters within each issue/volume at the same time. But that's because I LOVE cover art so much, especially comic cover art. This was actually the deal breaker I had with the novelist scene. Not only are you as a novelist writer adviced to NEVER make your own novel cover, but the way novel covers are made these day, at least for most of the mainstream novels, is complete, utter crap! It's a bunch of cheap looking photoshoping, often with a prescribed emphasis on specific color schemes because it's scientifically calculated to draw readers in. No longer is the cover art for novels treated like it's the skin of the novel, telling you what to expect, it's just there to calculatively tease you into reading the blurb on the back. It's BS, it's insulting to the artform, and it's one of the main reasons why I left the novelist path in favor of making webcomics instead.

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