The Cover of Love

At the moment I’m working on my fifth book in the ‘Discovery in Comics’-series: about Love.

The Dutch version will come out in February, and this is the time to frantically work on the last pages, promotional blurbs for the publisher and the finalisation of the cover design.

It all started months ago, when I thought I had a great idea that would convey both the loveliness of love as well as its darker connotations: a heart-shaped hole in the ground, with different fumes coming out… Here’s the sketch version:

liefde1_coverzw

My colorist/husband Yiri and I then came up with three different color versions, which we presented to my helpful Facebook-friends:

liefde_covertest

This was the winning design we settled on:

liefde1_cover

As the months passed, this cover increasingly irked me, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. Then someone commented that they did not really see the heart as a heart-shaped hole, and that did it. Time for a complete revision.

I decided I wanted to incorporate some traditional “lovey” symbols – like hearts and roses. Roses with thorns, of course:

liefde2_roses

And then I’d have the Loving Couple (me and Yiri) swing precariously over them-

liefde2_us

add a heart and some color, and this was the result:

liefde2_cover

I felt good about this one for a few days, then I started to get annoyed by the anxious looks on our faces. Love is fun! At least, mostly. So the precarious swing went out of the window, and I drew us cozily snuggled together in a rose…

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Now ain’t that sweet? I added some bees and a ladybug, and the final result is this:

liefde3-cover

There. This one’s probably going to be it – although you never know. At least it has that sweet & fun love vibe I was going for.

Whoever said that Love is a lot of work, was definitely not kidding! And that’s just the cover!

Religion: a Discovery in Comics – the Cover

Coming up with a good cover is always a challenge. Ideally, a cover drawing conveys precisely what the book is about. For Religion: a Discovery in Comics I wanted it to contain me (since there’s a lot of autobiography in there), an image of “God”, and the symbols of the five world religions. The very first sketch (for the Dutch edition) was this:

religie-sketch

The image of Man reaching for God and God reaching out to infuse Man with life is an allusion to this famous fresco by Michelangelo, called ‘The Creation of Adam’:

michelangelo

Although I liked the overall feel of the picture, I was having a hard time getting all the elements right. This was an early version:

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Nice enough, but colleagues pointed out that this picture has two focus points: the divine halo in top and the yellow circle where pencil and God’s hand almost meet. It’s better to have one point in the picture to draw the eye to, and someone suggested this:

religion2

I liked that, but I wasn’t sure about the space between the pencil and God’s hand. In the original Michelangelo painting there is this space, and it creates a good suspense of almost-being-animated – but then I realized that my book is not about a one-way relationship with the divine, but rather about the dynamic between people and how they perceive any “higher force”.

When I made the finger and the pencil meet, the image suddenly “clicked”. It can be read in two ways: either the divine is inspiring the artist, or the artist is conjuring up an image of the divine. Or both!

So this is the final result, and the cover to keep an eye out for in stores soon:

religion_cover-bg

 

Covercovercovercover!

Here a few versions of the cover for my upcoming book. Covers do not come easily for me. Perhaps it’s all in my head, and I just get myself all wound up and stressed out thinking, “This cover has to be awesome; otherwise no one will bother to pick the book off the shelf.” Attempting awesome can be rather paralyzing. I’m much happier drawing a comic book page. Or perhaps I struggle because this is my idea of a fantastic cover.