Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Life As A DC "Cover Girl"

I trafficked DC cover art up and down the departments for almost four years. There was a long stretch of time in which literally EVERY "DC Universe" cover passed through my hands -- sketches, line art, finished digital files. I witnessed hundreds of covers evolve from ideas to the finished product. I had mini-meetings with every editorial team every month to evaluate the status of their covers, and how my office or other departments might be able to assist them.

I was known as the "cover girl."

DC took great pride in the quality of their covers. Matching the right artist to the right book was a well-thought-out process. There was a goal of making every cover a "grand slam," regardless if the comic was "A" or "C" list. "Nightwing" almost had the same priority as "Superman." In the end, the DC line had to look sharp across the board, across the shelves of comic shops everywhere.

And for the life of me, I really don't remember sexist covers being a big issue. That is to say, I cannot recall anything resembling a trend of covers that were demeaning to women. I mean, maybe I have "repressed memory" syndrome and there was an awful Catwoman cover with an impossibly-contorted torso and banana-nipples that scarred me for life -- but I'm telling you, I just don't remember a rampant misogynist situation with the covers.

Which is not to say that we didn't have "problem" covers that were vetoed or changed or went through with a chorus of rumbles behind them. We did. There were digital breast reductions, redraws, even a very uncomfortable conflict with one particular artist that almost led him to quit the title.

But in general, the cover office I worked for prided itself in not pushing out dreck -- whether the dreck be sexist or just horribly rendered. And who wouldn't be proud of non-dreckery?

Part of this is due to the fact that the graphic design department -- as were the production, promotions, and many other departments -- was relatively gender-diverse.

And part of this was due to the fact that the cover editor shaped the tone and quality of the art with a gentle but iron first. He asked for and expected quality. And this insistence on quality included the way females were rendered.

It wasn't that cheesecake was verboten. But if you're going to draw cheesecake, draw it well and don't wipe out all the humanity of the woman in the process.

As I mentioned before, there was one instance where a cover with cheesecake elements completely lacked that essential human spark, reducing the character in question to something eerily resembling a blow-up doll. I mean, a bravura rendering, all the bells and whistles, but in the end rather exploitative. And this cover was fought over. Bitterly. And I believe it was either changed completely or shot down. And it was nowhere even close to the infamous Justice League #10 cover.

Which leads me to ask,

How did the cover for Justice League #10 get through?

And will it make it to the stands?

And will it be reprinted in the trade-paperback...and be preserved in backlist heaven...forever?


  1. It's a fakeout cover... like the "missing" members on JLofA#1 or how The Flash Became Booster Gold with the released Omac Project #1 and how a blacked out figure in Batman's arms became Blue Beetle for Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1.

    Upon release of the issue, Power Girl's mammaries of justice will be major league (heh... league... a pun!) reduced to reveil a hidden LoSH character behind them.

    And later we'll get a spin off mini series titled "Power Rack".

    Gad... that last one was horrible. Sorry everyone.


  2. I'm sorry, I'm confused. You mean to say this cover has not been published? Surely there's time for it to be ceremoniously dumped as the hideously bad idea it is then?

    (I haven't been in my local comic shop for a few years now, tho to be honest I now steer clear of the place PURELY to avoid the 'So you finally decided to come crawling back, did ya?' sneer that would be thrown at me as soon as I opened the door. The Gail Simone debut on wonder woman may be enough to finally get me to face the scorn.)

  3. I believe that the Justice League cover could simply just be a mock-up, and not the actual cover.

    I'm more concerned about the Citizen Steel cover for Justice Society #7

    The Turner piece can always be re-drawn.

    But they can't repaint Citizen Steel's 'peice'.

  4. I still defend Citizen Steel's package. If we can see clearly-defined breats, we can see clearly-defined penises.

  5. If we can see clearly-defined breats, we can see clearly-defined penises.

    I agree with your position on this -

    But, I'd rather not see either.

  6. I noticed that the dccomics website does not have a specific cover listed for JLA #10. That's a positive sign, I guess.

  7. Covers are solicited for the Previews catalog 3 months in advance. That's why we have all seen this cover way before the book is slated to hit the stands. Covers that have been slated for printing have been known, in certain extreme circumstances, to be "pulled" and replaced very close to the printing date.

    And David G. is right, certain aspects of the cover -- the empty black background, for instance -- lead me to believe that this was not the final version. Through Photoshop colors are sometimes "dropped" in, changed, etc to match trade dress, logo, etc.

    Personally, I would be very surprised if this cover made it to the stands. But if they kept it, at least it would attract a lot of attention.

  8. They've already done some retouching to reduce Power Girl's breast size again (with the original reduction happening prior to solicitation, according to Brad Meltzer). all likelihood, those two figures will be part of the final cover, with some Legion players and background images dropped in. Whether Power Girl checks in at a less controversial size by the final cutoff is anyone's guess.

  9. ahh, previews!

    another publication i have not seen in a LOOONG time.

    thanks for clearing that up

    i feel so comically out of touch.... in both senses...


  10. My theory is that the Power Cover image is horrible on horrible that NO one will really want to buy it. But since there'a 10:1 varaint thing going on, you (or your shop) will need to order ten unbearably stupid covers by Turner to get the one decent one by Jimenez.

    And it's not just the size that's the problem. It's the fact they're about a foot below where they should be. And the fact that it's, you know, a horrible drawing.

    And as for Citizen Steel's bulge, at least it's of a human size and in the right place.

  11. It really doesn't matter what kind of a cover the tenth JLofA issue's got, I'm not going to read any of Meltzer's books anyway. His actions on Identity Crisis crossed the line in ways that few other writers have, and he doesn't need my readership no matter the tone or content of his scriptwriting, that's for sure.

  12. That vapid, "mannequin" look on PG's face is horrendous. The artist obviously has no understanding whatsoever of her character, nor does he care.

  13. He doesn't have much understanding of her costume either. The cord of the cape is supposed to go under the arm.