Contrivin’ a Cover for the Evil Star Graphic Novel: a History

Lend me your ears kiddies, and I’ll drop-kick yer mind back into the mists of time for a saga of artistic back-and-forth’ing! While I was drawing the Evil Star graphic novel, I was also on cover duty, which was a brilliant thing indeed. My artistic tag-team leader Dom Reardon (who’s got a cool graphic novel called ‘Underground’ out from Dark Horse in October) drew and painted the fantastic cover for the Raven’s Gate graphic novel we both worked on (see below), but this time around it was all on me. Which was cool, in fact. So while I was pencilling, I put some ideas together.

Since every series (The ‘Power of Five’ novels are a pentalogy) needs to have homogenous covers so the books sit well together, I riffed on Dom’s cover for Raven’s Gate, I came up with this… Homage:

Very First Evil Star graphic novel cover rough

With copious notes explaining myself! (Forgot to mention the colour scheme though. The idea being that each book had its own colour.) The constellation of stars in the sky is Cygnus, which features in the story. (And a lot of my early roughs.)
I’m not sure this quite hit the mark as the brief that came back was for something with a bit more action, based on a particular scene from the book; in this case the flight from the crooked police of the city of Cusco, complete with the main characters about to run off a cliff edge…


After this there was a rethink at Walker Books and it was decided to go for something a bit more bold; something with just one character’s head, face, and even just their eye. I had a bit of noodle and came up with this lot to see if any of it stuck…

evil-star-GN-cover-roughs---wave-3 evil-star-GN-cover-roughs---wave-3-b evil-star-GN-cover-roughs---wave-3-c

The lines in this are supposed to be the Nazca lines, which also feature in the story.

Next: it was decided that the cover should be even more design-led; half the title, then some graphic element. David McDougall, the art-director at Walker knocked up these examples…


I’m not sure where the guy in the hoodie on the right-hand side came from, but I kinda like him. Next: it was decided to sort out the reprint of the Raven’s Gate cover first, and then go from there afterwards. Here’s the final thing:


That’s a panel from somewhere in the middle of the graphic novel – pencilled by Dom and inked by me. Now we had the style set down, a change of colour and main character was in order. So I clipped these shots of Pedro from the interior pages of the book…

Pedro Headshots

And it turned out the sweet one wasn’t even from that lot, it was from the bottom of this page here:


Who’da thunk? David put this together from that shot and some of the other interior artwork…


I then took it and knocked off the rough edges:


Just the artwork on its own looked like this. The background and lightning bolt is from another frame in the same scene.


Next, it was decided that we needed something that matched the scene from the first book – two characters in the same scene talking or working together. So I went through the interior pages I’d inked and picked out frames that had Matt and Pedro – our main characters – in. I then worked them up into little scenes that be easily laid-out by David into a design that worked with the rest of the cover…

ES-cover-element--142-B ES-cover-element-047 ES-cover-element-059 ES-cover-element-060 ES-cover-element-080 ES-cover-element-090 ES-cover-element-096 ES-cover-element-142-A ES-cover-element-p070 ES-cover-element-p078



I’m quite proud of these, they might look a bit wonky occasionally, but that’s because they were once part of a layout of frames on a page.
Next, David took that last one above and worked it into a new composition:


Once again I smoothed out the rough bits (including Pedro’s head looking like it had just been chopped at the neck. Ouch…)


I batted that over to David, who did the texture and the typography and we ended up with this:

evil star GN cover final

Which was the finished cover! There was much rejoicing.
However, there was just one last little cherry to go on top… Spot gloss varnish! The bibliophile/fanboy’s newest friend. I’ve drooled over seeing the book in print after all the work that went into it previously on this blog, but here’s some snaps of the spot varnish…
Here, it’s on the red bits, Pedro’s big head and the title.


…And the blood-splatter type bits on the spine and back cover…

evil-star-gn-spot-gloss-varnish-2 evil-star-gn-spot-gloss-varnish-3…And on the Power of Five logo and some other bits on the spine.

And that about wraps it up. Thanks for reading all this stuff!

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