by Matt Smith & Simon Coleby, variant cover by Dave Sim
On Sale: April 2013
November 20th, Chris faxed me: "I loved the way you did that first cover. Could you keep that motif for all four issues?" He also included some info on the storyline including "The Portal" -- which I won't get into, since IDW, I'm sure, would like all of you to buy a copy. And a character named Riorden. So I asked for reference, pretty much knowing the answer: it hadn't been decided yet. Covers are done at least five months ahead of publication because of the PREVIEWS deadline. So, no Riorden and I needed to just do a generic portal.
So I did a rough figure of Dredd overtop of my traced logo lettering from the cover of #1, making sure that enough of him would be showing through the letters so you could know it was him. As soon as I got his right hand and forearm done, I went, "Oh Steranko." Such a happy coincidence I even broke out of the one side of the "Y" so all of my Steranko fingers would show. Once I see it that way, that's the way I'm going to do it. I started inking little oval Seranko dots along the lines disappearing into the vanishing point. And then intentionally overdid them so it wouldn't look like I was slavishly DOING Jim's inking. Except for the four I did behind Dredd's right/Steranko/Hand. My own little "Steranko corner" of the cover.
I'm still getting used to drawing for colour. The "What" and "Through" sort of disappear behind all of those inked ovals but I'm assuming the colourist can take that into account just by choosing colours that stand out (I haven't seen the coloured version yet -- Tim just lets me know that IDW has released a new one and I write about the original b&w. I like what they did on the other two, though, so I'm not trying to do "colour immune" covers as much. While still trying to do actual drawing instead of relying on the colourist for how the finished cover looks: a real temptation in our computer colour world).
I'm still trying to master the distended mouth (inside "one") which Neal Adams made his own -- and which I suspect Neal got partly from Joe Kubert. I can never figure out if the heavier, bolder strokes need to be brush or pen. Here I did some of them with a Windsor-Newton Series 7 #2 brush and some of them with Gillott 303 pen. The lighter strokes are Hunt 102. The tiny little figure: this is the second time I thought that I should just pencil and ink it "twice up" -- 200% of the size it is here -- on a scrap piece of illustration board and just have the IDW production guys put it in in Photoshop. And this is the second time I decided, Oh, what the heck and inked it the size it is with a magnifying glass and a fresh Hunt 102 pen nib. I'm seriously considering getting one of those magnifier lamps that jewellers use and that Will Eisner got eventually. Holding a magnifying glass in one hand while inking with the other is for the birds.
Oh hey -- I forgot to mention this to Chris: to get the "The Portal" shadow lettering in the bottom right corner completely accurate, I reduced the outline lettering on the photocopier to about 50% and then filled in the letters with ink and then put it on the cover with double-sided tape. Only the connection between the "T" and the "A" was so thin that the "A" and "L" are skewed right. Can you get the production guys to redo it in photoshop and touch up the receding lines? It's not going to REALLY look like a shadow unless everything is exactly 50% of the outline lettering and in exactly the same configuration.