Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Cancertown 2 Cover-Up

With the pencils for Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours entering the home stretch, Markosia set the Cancer Cell working on devising a cover. Graeme Howard, showing the near-suicidal flair of the flamboyantly deranged, took it upon himself to thematically encapsulate the entire 144-page story in a single image, and turned around the following concept:
Now, I... fucking... LOVED... this... concept. I argued violently in its favour. I threw every diva strop trick I could muster to force it down the throats of the team. However, Graeme was never entirely happy with it, and there were technical considerations involving "negative space" and logo placement that reduced its practicality as a cover for the book. It was heartbreaking, but we had to look deeper into what Cancertown 2 actually needed. Here was Graeme's second suggestion:
Another awesome concept. This one carried all the weight of the first one, but changed up the characters shown to preserve some of the book's plot elements. The tricky thing was that, in doing so, we'd put the emphasis on characters whose intrusion into the story was arguably less significant than the ones we'd taken out. Time to look again at first principles, as by now we were concerned about packing the cover out with too many elements and deviating from the elegance of Paul Cartwright's frankly brilliant work on the first volume:
BAM! Graeme came screaming out of left field with a concept that tightened the focus to a laser-sharp pinpoint and managed to do what we'd hardly imagined possible - to produce an image that was uniquely "Cancertown" and yet still managed to show us things we'd never seen before. Crucially, we had a paler, sicker looking Morley than previous depictions - plus, we had two new characters whose placement neatly reflected their roles within the context of the story. Suddenly, we had a concept that ticked all the boxes on both a creative and technical level. Now for some development and colour:
Peter Mason, the interior colourist for the book, opted at first for a bold, vivid approach - going for immediate impact and visceral appeal as these early, incomplete flats show. Appropriately appreciative noises were made, and it looked like our direction was set... until Graeme, who favoured more of a water-coloured look, offered the following suggestion:
Now, we found ourselves with two very different stylistic approaches to consider. There was something elemental in Pete's original approach, but the more sombre hit of Graeme's version was undeniable. It was Peter himself who floated the idea of combining the styles into something new... and you should have seen the look on my face when he showed us what he meant by that. Nic Wilkinson's addition of a modified logo locked the idea down and cemented the image as our choice for the book...

...and, just like that, we had our cover.

A preview of Cancertown 2: Blasphemous Tumours will be available at this weekend's Bristol Comic Expo. If you fancy a look, feel free to ask.

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