In my COVER CHALLENGE posts, I'll be illustrating a mock comic book cover in the prevailing style of a popular series and then illustrate a second design that proposes an alternate art direction.
For my first entry, I'm tackling Brian Wood's Vertigo Series DMZ.
An accomplished designer and artist in his own right, Brian immediately distinguished his series from other books on the rack by eschewing bright figurative action shots for rough-hewn graphic explorations in a limited palette and with a lot of negative space. DMZ is set in a fictional post-war New York and the covers initially incorporated the local flavor of NYC iconography and signage with the visual immediacy of agit-prop fliers. The book seemed to be an artifact of the world he created.
While I always appreciated the bold choices and execution of these designs, I always felt slightly removed from covers that sold the world of the book but often excluded the central character and my sympathy.
Here's my stab at a DMZ design in the original vein but re-imagining the logo as a subway scratch tag, swapping the prevalence of white for black, and creating an interior mental space for protagonist Matthew Roth with the subway signage.
More recently, John Paul Leon has taken over as regular cover artist. His tenure has brought more, but muted, color and more figures to the cover design. But, often portrayed in silhouette, the people are still unknowable and become part of the artfully broken landscape. His work is tasteful and takes unexpected chances with composition.
For my second take, I decided to go HOT. I wanted to create an image with real sense of risk and blood in it. Something that communicated the daily, almost routine, peril Matt finds himself in and that still felt like New York. DMZ has never used an extreme close-up for a cover and this is my snapshot right in the sweaty face of our terrorized photojournalist.