Lee Bermejo talks Vertigo Crime Covers
Lee Bermejo talks Vertigo Crime Covers:
I'm going to spin a yarn here. People always say that every story has a beginning, middle, and end so let's start at the beginning.
Act 1: A couple years back, Will Dennis approached me about doing covers for a new, somewhat experimental line for Vertigo. The line itself sounded fucking awesome, but there was something he said about the gig that both frightened and intrigued me. It was pretty simple, 'We don't want anything that looks like a comic book cover'. For a guy who does comic books for a living, and specifically COVERS of comic books, that statement is the proverbial laying down of the gauntlet. He also wanted to keep the images simple. Anyone who knows me or my work may now release the snorting laughter you're trying to suppress. SIMPLICITY?!?!?! Yeah, not really my bag as much as I wish it was. This wasn't going to be about just breaking out of my box, I was going to have to find a whole new box. Could I have been more wrong for the job?!?!?! That in itself was every reason to accept.
Act 2: They also say that in every good story, the main character goes through some kind of significant change brought on by conflict. In this business, you almost NEVER get offered something you're clearly not right for but desperately want to do anyway. When it does happen, the difficult thing is pushing through some of your own limitations to prove that the powers that be didn't fuck up by giving you this chance. Let's face it, you also want to prove it to yourself. In the case of these covers, my challenge was more in the idea phase than in the final execution. What is the idea phase, you may ask? Sketches, sketches, and more sketches. Let me tell you something, if the recycle bin outside my house was a hungry animal, the process of doing the Vertigo Crime covers has kept it well fed. I seem to toss out as many sketches as I finish, and try to be pretty hard on myself in terms of what I eventually show to my editor. Here is a smattering of some of the failed ideas. Hey, any storyteller will say that the main character can't succeed all the time. Where's the drama in that?!?
A major part of Campbell's 'A Hero's journey' involves the main character of the story aquiring some kind of boone that helps he/she on their quest/journey. In the case of this story, that boone would have to be Mr. Josh Beatman, graphic designer extraordinaire. He's the Doc Brown to my Marty McFly. I can drive the time machine, but if he doesn't fix it, I don't go where I need to go. You can check out his magic on the cover finals, and see how the picture finally starts coming together.
Act 3: You gotta buy the Vertigo Crime books for that. Trust me you'll like the way the story ends....