Friday, June 22, 2012

Entry 150: Astonishing X-Men #52

Well look at what the cat dragged in-- the cover to ASTONISHING X-MEN #52!
Well done, cat.

Not your typical X-Men cover, I think. Convincing the editors to let me go with this idea took some doing. You know how they tell you to pick your battles, well I picked one. But now I'm left to wonder, if I've only got so many battles I can fight, did I pick the right one?

I did 3 sketches for this cover. Before I say anything about the sketch that we went with I want to say a little about the 2 other sketches that we didn't go with.

Here are the other sketches.

Going into this cover, I didn't know anything about what would be in it other than that it would be about Karma. So how to make a cover about Karma was completely open.

I talked about wanting to do some covers with a more graphic look back when I posted about my cover for issue #53. Initially that's the direction I wanted to go for this cover. Karma's power has a nice graphic-ness to it. So I thought using that as inspiration was a nice idea.

I like the first one, with the color, pretty well. But I didn't feel like these were really images about Karma. They were images about how Karma is pretty and has a power. You know what I mean? So I wanted to do an image that was about her character and made you more interested in her as a person. This is essentially what all my Shield variant covers have been about, so the idea led me towards doing something more in line with my Shield covers.
 When I used Karma's character as inspiration I began to think about the tragedies of her past. I thought about the realities of having a young woman with a cybernetic leg. Getting dressed, trying to look pretty, and needing to maintain your ugly robot leg. I thought about how she's a lesbian and has had a history of liking the wrong people. I'm by no means an expert on her, but I did a little bit of reading, and I started to really feel for her. I ended up wanting to do something sensitive and a little tragic.

Sensitive and tragic are not common descriptors for X-Men covers... So, long story short, I picked a battle. I made an argument. There is the small compromise of the leg being more teched out, and I had to move her other leg so that it didn't go behind the bar code, but, over all, I got to do the cover I wanted. Ultimately everyone was happy. And I'm glad the folks at Marvel were willing to do something a little out of the norm.
 Some small things I'd like to point out:
-Totoro! I realized that Disney has the licensing for Studio Ghibli films and that Disney of course now owns Marvel. I'm no legal expert but I think that makes it okay for me to have Totoro in a Marvel comic... If not, then what's a Totoro? Never heard of him.
-Also, there is a double shout-out to the disbanded band Sleater Kinney and to the artist of that concert poster, Tara McPherson. I like both that band and that artist, but more importantly I thought Karma might like them.
-There's a cross on the wall. Did you know that Karma is Catholic? Or at leased she was. Not sure where she lads with the whole religion thing these days but that stuff is hard to shake.
-And my personal favorite shout out-- There's a Snar-Fled clock.

And while we're talking about Karma, did you know that I designed her current outfit.

I know her costume isn't a big departure from what she's worn for years, but my first take on it was quite a bit different.
I thought it might be cool to give her a mask. I like masks on super heroes. Ultimately the mask went, but the first note I got was to clean up the shoulders and collar.
After that they asked for some different sleeve configurations.
As you can see, we're getting closer and closer to her old look. We went with the third 3rd option, minus the mask. Oh and we had to change the pink because that's the color of her power and that might be to much pink. So we went with yellow. And yeah, we're practically back to her old look.

So next up is my cover for Astonishing X-Men #53. Oh wait. I already posted about that one... So I guess that's it then. My last Astonishing X-Men cover. Good by Astonishing X-Men. We had our ups and downs but over all it's been really good. Now I'm going to go back and read all my Astonishing X-Men cover blog entries while listening to "Way We Were."

Blogged and Blogged


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'm loving your covers on AXM!
    This one is beautiful, and packed with so much detail and information, you did a really good job on it! And it's also unconventional, in the sense that it doesn't depict a battle scene or the character STRIKING A POSE! It's very "intimate", I love it.

    As a curiosity, Karma has worn a mask before - In Uncanny X-Men annual #10 (publishe waaaaay back in 1986), the New Mutants donned "graduation uniforms", and most of them had masks, including hers. Arthur Adams drew that issue, and it cemented my love for the New Mutants.

    And it's a shame about the pink uniform, I'm kinda in love with it now I've seen your sketches.


    1. Thanks, James, I really appreciate the comments. The reason I say that I wonder if this was battle worth fighting is because I was starting to wonder if the image IS boring. Just insecurity creeping in. So it's good to know that my initial instincts weren't wrong.
      That's interesting about the mask thing. That would probably have been a nice thing to reference.

  3. Saw your stuff on Superpunch. Freakin LOVE it!!!

  4. Thank you for breathing life into comic books once again.

    1. Well, I don't know about that, but I thank you so much for the comment. I means a lot to me.

  5. I recognized the McPherson art right away. I have three of her prints hanging in my house (as well as three by Leia Bell).

    1. I used to have a couple McPherson concert posters in my home. They belonged to my ex, but I really liked them. It's cool stuff. I hope she's cool with me using some of her coolness to make this image more cool.

  6. Hey Dustin that cover is Fantastic! I showed to my daughter (who is an above the knee amputee) and she thought the cover was Very Cool. She especially liked the Totoro you put into the picture. She also is a big Miyazaki fan. She wants me to buy a copy of this when it comes out. Great Job!

    1. Tombo, thank you so much for letting me know this. It's so cool to me that your daughter likes this cover and that you felt it was something you'd want to show to your daughter. It validates exactly what I was aiming for.
      And your daughter has good taste. Miyazaki is so great. Which brings up-- Tombo. That's the boy's name in Kiki's Delivery Service.

  7. I love it!!! Even if I’m not really a karma fan (to tell the truth, at some point i even hated her), i think the cover is at the same time sad and beautiful. it is my 3° fav in your astonishing run (in order from 50 because Northstar full costume :-P and team dynamic, 51 because of the wedding and 52 you make me also feel for karma, and that is a big thing) hell yes, you picked the right battle.


    "So next up is my cover for Astonishing X-Men #53. Oh wait. I already posted about that one... So I guess that's it then. My last Astonishing X-Men cover. Good bye Astonishing X-Men."

    WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!? Nothstar, you and Marjorie Liu are the reason i love the book so much. Marvel must make you regular penciler (sorry, perkins is good but not good enough for me)

    1. Well, if I were doing the interiors on the book, it wouldn't be coming out each month like Perkins has been able to do.
      I will miss doing these covers, but I am super excited about the things I've got going on right now. There's Shield, which I'll be doing an update on real soon, and a super secret project that I can't say anything about yet. It's fun stuff. I hope you keep reading my blog, even though I wont be working on AXM anymore.

    2. jajaja, you are giving yourself little credit. i think you would give yourself to the book. AND yes, i will be coming back for more (i come here almost every week to tell the truth :-D )

  8. Hi, I´m the spanish fan again.

    I love these cover. It´s strange in these days to found an image used to sell a comic, that shows a person in her personal space, doing an intimate action that it´s, at the same time, so sci-fi. And is very usefull the personal space to describe the person, using the image language with the objects in the room to know her background. Also I like the coherent thinking in your drawing analisis, you can see the casing machine removing on the floor, so you can imagine how the mechanical leg works.

    The cover says a lot of things showing her as a person capable of manage and calibrate herself the protesis. I can imagine her as a young person who has grown up very quickly and suffer in the process, but she hasn´t lost her young pleasures and humanity.

    1. This cover turned out beautifully. I'm honored by the shout out. This cover really does have an emotional quality- the thought you put into Karma's character really shows. What you said about her having a history of liking the wrong people intrigued me- I think you communicated that in the subtlest way. That's top notch cartooning!

  9. Alas, poor Totoro! I knew him, Horatio.

    Was frantically panicked to find he didn't make it onto the published cover. What a shame. Disney distributes for Ghibli but doesn't have rights to use the characters, I suppose. Legal crap over a doll on a shelf.

    1. I guess I'm not surprised about it. I actually half expected it. I'm just glad that they made the edit not look to bad. I'm still happy with it and it will always exist in it's completeness here on my blog.