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Quackcast 628 - Cover me!

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, March 28, 2023

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We're talking about the importance of a good cover in this cast. Another technical comicscast! I love making coves, they're one of my fave things because I get to stretch my artistic muscles and get a little more flashy and creative with my art and graphic design. They can also be pretty dread things to work on when you've used up all your creative powers on your actual comic and have nothing left over…

The art of creating covers is extremely important! It's the initial thing that attracts people to your work along with the title. I'm huge fan of all covers, it's one of the things that got me into art in the first place: books, albums, movies, games, posters etc, cover-art can be so cool! There are many different kinds of cover art, but number one fave is art that illustrates an exciting, evocative scene from the story it's promoting, something that makes you want to find out more about what's happening behind the scene you're looking at. Good covers not only attract your attention and get you to look at or buy something but they can be a part of the ACTUAL thing, just as much as the story itself, especially for book covers and album covers- covers ADD to the work, they're part of the experience.

Another great cover type is a sort of medley of story content as well as having a bit of story narrative on there. Josh Kirby was known for doing that with his Terry Pratchett covers, he'd have everything on there, all sorts of Easter-eggs for the reader to spot. The art was weird and bubbly but fun and it captured the flavour of Pratchett's writing so well. Indiana Jones and Star Wars movie posters are typical of this in a way too- their primary focus is the “pin-up” image of the main characters, but they also have little bits and pieces form the story there to reward you if you look for them.

Pin-up covers are when the main focus is a person or persons, usually the main protagonist in a story but not necessarily, especially with album covers. These can be hit or miss. They're very popular because they're so easy to make but can be really bland and chicle if done badly, or people just get carried away with the “sex sells” adage and don't go beyond that (I make all these mistakes!). A good pin-up doesn't just have a figure but it also expresses something unique and interesting about the story itself, this could be as simple as showcasing a really unique and interesting looking character that makes people want to find out more about them.

What I like to call the “graphic design focused” covers can be a mixed bag too. These can have really cool design elements that make you want to know more- with clever use of symbol or text. Or they can be just massively bland and tedious like those that use a generic symbol in a boring way or simply have a giant title and author name and nothing else. These are lazy and stupid. Lazier and stupider though are the designers who make covers using cropped copyright free art- typically they crop a portion from a classical painting that has nothing to do with the work they're promoting, and stick generic title and author credits on it. or they do the same thing with a licensed stock photo.

Photographic covers in general can be problematic, not because photography is bad but because it seems easy so people often create bad cover images with photos (especially author photos). They don't realise that you have to be just as artistic and creative with photographic images as you do with other kinds of artwork.
The bottom line with cover art is that regardless of the approach you take, the more unique it is to your work the better! The more generic and meaningless the cover the more crap it will be (though there are always exceptions… Penguin classics anyone?). Given that criteria, it's advisable not to use AI art!
What are your fave types of cover?

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Kingdom of Cats - An early morning start, sun streaming golden at a low angle, on the road, moving away, moving towards, making a start.

Topics and shownotes


Featured comic:
Danse Macabre Danse Amour -

Featured music:
Kingdom of Cats - - by Rachel87, rated E.

* Theme music taken from Gunwallace's theme to Thrud Goddess of Thunder -

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace -
Ozoneocean -
Kawaiidaigakusei -
Banes -
Tantz Aerine -

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Ozoneocean at 7:42PM, March 28, 2023

@J_Scarbrough - that sounds pretty cool! For all my talk of loving doing covers a lot of time they can be a real chore haha, so I create them after the fact like that on occasion.

Ozoneocean at 7:41PM, March 28, 2023

@PaulEberhardt - the penguin covers that I was thinking off as an exception are the simple orange and white ones with a title :)

J_Scarbrough at 4:41PM, March 28, 2023

I never even considered doing any cover art for VAMPIRE GIRL until it suddenly became a requirement on Smack Jeeves (back when it was hosted on Smack Jeeves) when they got bought out by a different company, and their new server required cover images, so I just put together a generic vertical version of the horizontal banner image on the comic site. However, I did eventually do a more creative cover art for the comic back in those days that utilized what TV Tropes calls Face On The Cover that showed a side-by-side comparison of Levana in her mortal form and vampire form, with the rest of the characters lined up in smaller proportions along the bottom side of the cover. And of course, prior to the release of the second season back in October, I did a proper cover for the season using a similar theme.

PaulEberhardt at 2:51PM, March 28, 2023

I like it when a cover is in some way different from the generic standardised digital paintings stuff you get so very often, also from AIs. I tend to be disappointed if it has nothing to do with the story, which is often the case with photographic covers or by just picking some random piece of (public domain) art, the way Penguin Classics often does - although I must say don't actually mind with them, as in their case it's a way to show their sincerity in trying to keep the book as cheap as possible. What I like most is a cover depicting a cool scene from the book that makes you curious about what the heck is going on there and adds the delight of finding out by reading. Or what Walter Moers does with his intricate designs that usually feature the main character literally taking a peek out of the book - at you.

Ozoneocean at 5:12AM, March 28, 2023

@InkyMoondrop as long as it's your own work it doesn't matter what you reference, because you've recontextualised things in your own way to apply to your stuff. It's when there is zero recontextualisation and the cover art has zero to do with the work its attached to or its creator that there's an issue.

Ozoneocean at 5:09AM, March 28, 2023

@Marcorossi- that's a good point! The "cool factor" is massive!

marcorossi at 2:42AM, March 28, 2023

I think the "pinup" approach to covers makes sense when (A) there is a very famous character like Batman or Spiderman, so I put Batty or Spidey on the cover and everyone knows what I'm selling, or (B) the main charcater clearly shows what is the teme/genre of the comic, e.g. if I have a Cthulhu/steampunk comic and I put my cyber-tentacled protagonist in a 1850 waitress attire, so everyone can understand what I'm selling. The "cool factor" is an important part of covers, but also the "people understand what I'm selling" part is important.

InkyMoondrop at 12:45AM, March 28, 2023

Hope I don't fall into the "lazy and stupid" category, but about 1/3 the covers I've made and intend to make in the future are referencing other art by themselves. :D On the chapter 1 cover of Blessed Days, I'm obviously referencing The Sound of Music through my main character, chapter 2 cover is referencing an illustration of Faust depicting Faust. Gretchen and Mephistopheles (only mine is from a different angle, but featuring a character based on an actual person who inspired Faust's myth in the first place) and I'm planning to reference the figure / tragedy of Prometheus in another chapter's cover, since I'll draw parallels with it. Covers can be great and sometimes among fan desings people can find way better ones than the originals, let it be about a book, a movie or else.

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