sequential daze

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bad Karma commentary - cover

When I get started on the commentary proper I'll probably be covering 15-20 pages of the story per post, covering broadly what I was hoping to convey in the comic, what worked, what didn't work and what, on reflection I would have done differently. However, to kick the process off I just wanted to write briefly about the cover image.

It is a bit silly to talk about a 'cover' for a webcomic... cover to what exactly? I only started doing covers for Magellan when it moved to Graphic Smash. Their online publishing process requires a promotional image of very specific dimensions that will then be displayed on the front Graphic Smash page on days that the comic updates. Certainly it's a good idea but usually then leaves me grasping for an appropriate image to on one hand convey a sense of excitement, drama, enticement and what the story is about without giving it away. I think most other Graphic Smash cartoonists just have a cover image for their whole series, it never occurred to me (until just 10 seconds ago) that I probably could have done the same thing - I suppose that since I have discreet chapters it's good to do one that's specific to that story. So as a result I needed to devise a cover for Bad Karma - and since, at the time, the new story was intended to start soon I needed that cover quickly.

In case it's not evident, this commentary will contain numerous spoilers, so if you're reading this before you've read the comic itself, consider yourself forewarned...!

Anyway, I knew that this chapter would be the big reveal on who Karma Joffe really was, who the mysterious man snuggling up with her at the end of Chapter 2 was (pages 61-62), what their plans were and why Karma appeared to have it in for Kaycee Jones. Ever since inception Karma Joffe was intended to be a future version of cadet Maya Applecross so I knew she was really an illusion-maker rather than a precog, which was Karma's 'thing' - but didn't want to give any of that away in the cover.

Problem was, I was originally playing around with a daft idea of showing everyone as marionette puppets of a giant/looming Karma. Attempts to make it work as a visual concept didn't work well and I really didn't like the literal interpretation of it - "ooh, they're all under her control". Instead I came up with the scenario as depicted above. I knew that evil future Maya and Chang (Miasma and DragonKlaw) were plotting to bring down some kind of apocalyptic scenario - so I thought I'd depict that instead. As it turns out, of course, they got no where near that kind destruction by the end of the story and as events unfolded it seemed that the cover would ultimately be more an illustrative rather than actual depiction of the chaos the two had wrought. Fortunately, as I was writing the penultimate confrontation against Kaycee and Miasma some 20 months later, I still had some of my synapses firing and incorporated the cover image into Miasma's mind attack on Kaycee - see here. I love it when that kind of thing comes together, but believe me, when I created that cover image I had no idea I'd be using it so effectively at the right moment in the story.

As for the image itself, I personally love how it turned out and it is still one of my favourite drawings from the series - it is strong and emotive, the looming moon and colour scheme adding to the drama, as an apparently defeated Kaycee is tossed limply onto a pile of corpses of other cadets.


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