November 29, 2006

> Fables 59 & Jack 9, graphite on bond, 8.5 x 5.5 in.

It was nearing the end of the month, and I was rapidly losing time. My editor at DC sent me two short suggestions for these covers. For 'Fables', the story was entitled "Burning Questions," and I was asked to depict the Fables crew going through reader mail in the office. For 'Jack of Fables,' I had to show Jack & Holly in love like Bogart & Bacall. Actually, I was unfamiliar with Holly since DC did not send me a script for the previous issue. It was difficult to work with so little information on Fables, but I was sent the interior pencils and script for Jack, and I found a golden moment with which to enshroud their embrace.

> Fables 59 & Jack 9, blue pencil on Rives BFK and acrylic, 22 x 15 in.

I worked on these two covers simultaneously. The originals and digital files were literally side by side as I drew and colored the pieces in. It was a night at the races. Since Fables was so light on story this time around, I concentrated on the formal elements of a image: composition, texture, line quality, etc. It was a little strange to just 'make a pretty picture' without much content, but in the end, my mind made some unexpected connections and interesting moments happened in the picture. The process for Jack was more predictable, so the challenge was to make the image interesting in some way. I sealed in the drawing with acrylic medium and heightened it with some white paint.

> Fables 59 & Jack 9, blue pencil on Rives BFK and acrylic, 22 x 15 in.

After I laid down my flats in Photoshop, I colored everything in with a regular brush to establish values, opacity and hardness varied as needed.

> Fables 59 & Jack 9, Photoshop CS2, 7 x 10.5, 500 dpi.

The stamp on Fables was one of those nice unintended moments that happened after the sketch phase, and a nice way to allude to the reader mail element of the story as well as to the issue number. Since there's an intense poker game in Jack, the typography for the cover was inspired by playing card design. When I'm illustrating, I dislike decorating an image with meaningless flotsam and pretty marks, an indulgence I'll sometimes allow in my personal work -- I'm always thinking about how to make every graphic choice and symbol in a picture responsible in some way.