I must be doing alright on the alternative covers for Valiant (as if there would be any doubt I would come up with fantastic stuff) I’m set to start one for X-O Manowar for them next. Funny thing about my career, way more opportunities have come to me, than by me manufacturing them/ seeking them out. The common questions I get in regards to work I have done outside of Arsenic Lullaby are along the lines of
“how did you happen to land that?”
or “how did that connection happen?”
My answer usually seems to disappoint
” (shrug) I dunno, they saw my work, liked it, wanted to work with me. I saw their project , liked it and thought it would be a nice challenge”.
This disappoints, I think, because people want to know who they can schmooze, or what the magic email address is to get high profile work. Or perhaps because my usual stuff is so out there and strange that anytime I am doing something out side of that , there MUST be some wild story about it.
I try to take such questioning as one or the other…and ignore unintended insult. I am grateful to have so many readers who have followed my work and stayed with me since I was a upstart rookie, but you people need to start living in the “now”. Have you seen my resume?! Top award nominations (actual legitimate industry awards not some boblikescomics.com award) here and in Europe, 6 Years at Mad, work seen on Comedy Central…I could go on, but you get my point- ask it with a bit less incredulity. Jerks. ….I’M A BIG DEAL!
…I own many leather bound books…
Anyways, the lackluster answer I give is is the truth. Look, it’s a great big world out there, and there are a lot of jobs, and one of those jobs is finding talent. Someone has that job in pretty much every large entity. I focus on the quality of my work and for the most part I let that work go out into the world and speak on my behalf.
Hardly anyone ever asks “how did you go about coming up with something that fits that project, given that your work is so unique?”
No one ever asks about the job itself, just how to land it. Think on that…maybe a bit more worry about how to DO a job..maybe…hmmm? So that each job you do builds your reputation and snowballs. Just a thought. Who knows, life treats everyone differently. All’s I can tell you is I work hard and give a damn, and pick projects that have people in charge who also work hard and give a damn.
Since no one asked, and I have nothing to talk about this week except to give you some con updates…I’ll ask myself-
“how did you go about coming up with something that fits that project, given that your work is so unique?”
FIRST, I do what I do. My illustration style is very specific/unique, so if someone wants me to illustrate something, it’s a safe bet they are interested in that style unless they tell me otherwise. So I don’t try to reinvent the wheel, I just give my interpretation of the characters, as if everything I draw is in one reality and these characters are now in that reality.
SECOND AND MOST IMPORTANT. I research. This seems to be a lost art in and of itself. If find back issues, or ask for pdfs. It’s good to ask for them to send you pdfs or recommend something to look for because in many cases characters have evolved and you want to be sure you are using reference that is going to jive with the project you are working on. I’m looking for how the character looks, obviously, but also how the character acts and to get the mood, feel, spirit of the book. My first impression of Ninjak was that it was an adventurer/action book, and it is…BUT it also has a heavy dose of clandestine, spy, subterfuge. I have a cartoony style but the illustration of that character drawn cartoon-ish can still either be action packed, or creepy, or suspense filled. The mood of the book is important. If I capture the mood, the odd style will just seem like looking at the same story from a different lens rather than being out of place.
THIRD- I look at previous covers. Obviously I don’t want to something that’s already been done before, but also I am motivated by competition. My style being what it is…it’s kind of comparing apples to oranges, but it still helps.
Explaining this would be easier if I could show you the covers I’ve done…but I can’t do that. You’ll have to watch for them to show up on Valiant’s site first!
I can show you the sketches they didn’t choose ( I send three or four Ideas and they decide what they think’ll work best)
Ninjak– I could have drawn a sword fight, or a action scene but the book has a clandestine undercurrent so I tried to stay on point with that. Also I noticed that they have plenty of covers that have action shots and those covers where done well so there isn’t much value for them to have me give them a similar composition
Archer and Armstrong– That book is action packed but it is character driven as well . The two leads are an odd pairing, and it has a good does of humor. The personalities really drive this one so I go along trying to convey what these guys are like in the midst of supernatural danger (which is the crux of the series). Their recent past covers have also been heavy on the action so more reason to somehow make the vibe of the cover the personalities themselves ( not easy to do with one image…you just sort of scribble stuff out until something hits the mark)
Faith– Faith is more lighthearted and focuses on her trying to enjoy the whole job of being a superhero and measuring up to the task. She is new to having her own series, so I didn’t have to worry much about treading over territory that’s already been strip-mined, in fact since the book has a bit of a “girl power” theme, swapping out the damsel in distress for a guy in a standard super hero shot could be a solid idea….
These where the unused ideas (but don’t be surprised if you see the same compositions later on something else. A solid Idea usually finds a home)
X-O Manowar is next….This is one of their crown jewels. That is readily apparent as I look through their cover gallery. Illustrators have hit this from every angle and done so very well. Good…a welcome challenge.
I’ll show you thumbnails on that in the near future…stay tuned.
I will give you a heads up NOW….that if you want a commission you better request it ASAP. I have a full plate and as convention season gets here I will have NO MORE TIME.
Contact me at douglaspasz – at– arseniclullabies.com or go HERE if you have something simple in mind.
I’ve gone over the why’s and wherefores in previous blogs. I will repeat this- If you want me at you local show this is how you do it.
STEP ONE- CONTACT THAT SHOW AND TELL THEM YOU WANT ME THERE. The websites have contact info. The odds of me being invited go up dramatically if you badger them a bit. My online bio is here ( you may want to send that, in case they don’t know what a BIG DEAL I AM)
STEP TWO- tell me you have done step one and give me a link to the website.
***ATTENTION PHOENIX*** START DOING STEP ONE , and have you friends do the same.
Okay, here is what we have confirmed/are letting you know about now
After much thought, I will be going to the MCBA comic-con. We’ll see how it goes…
St.Paul Mn May 14-15th
Madison April 8-9-10
St.Louis April 1-2-3
First time in Texas!
Brazos Valley Texas! Nov.5-6th
MORE TO COME
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