Matt Kindt’s REVOLVER Extravaganza continues! Day 5
The writing is done and the art is turned in. But there’s still work to do. I think the design and presentation of books—not just graphic novels—gets overlooked. To me, the way the information is delivered is as important to and a key part of the content itself. Again, much like with color, if it’s not adding to the story and the narrative then it’s wasted space.
The cover is tricky because it needs to do a few things. The first thing it needs to do is just sell the book or at least get a reader to pick it up. On top of that, it has to be true to what’s in the book and also just look cool.
But the cover isn’t the only thing to consider. Endpapers, and page numbering have to be considered. For Revolver I did have a lot of extra back story and subplots that just didn’t fit the main narrative. But how to get that extra stuff into a book that is already so tightly plotted and layed out that there isn’t an extra square inch of space?
I think I’d turned in all of the art and Joan was editing it when I had the idea for page numbers and text scrolls. I think I’d been watching the news one afternoon and thinking about how distracting the text scroll was at the bottom of the newscast. It was driving me a little crazy to split my attention between what was being said and what I was reading. I loved the idea of splitting the readers attention not unlike what was happening to Sam in the actual narrative of the book. You get one story up here in the pages and art and another story below in the page numbering news ticker text.
That said, it took a crazy amount of extra work after I thought I was done to get the text to fit, also include the page number, and on top of all of that still be somewhat relevant to the action happening above it. But it was worth it. I got to include a subplot involving a militia group called the “76ers” that up until then only lurked in the background of the main story.
Another element I’d been playing with while drawing the book was chapter title pages. Originally I was going to do a sequence of 20 small panels detailing the life of each main character. I abandoned that idea because it just seemed like too much and broke up the flow of the main narrative.
Then I had an idea to design each title page as a page from a catalog which would detail the material possessions of each character and give an extra insight into them. But even that seemed to break it up too much.
Eventually I settled on what’s in the book now—small icons which each contain a subliminal chapter number hidden in them and all perfectly circular to fit the theme of the book.
When I design a cover I again start with thumbnails much like the story pages. I sent these in to get feedback and find out which concepts everyone at Vertigo liked the best. The trick here that I learned (as a graphic designer) is never show a cover option that you wouldn’t be happy with. So I was pretty happy with all of these and actually developed a few into semi-finished designs to see how they’d work. The funny thing is--the final thumbnail for the approved cover was done…on a paper towel…by my wife. She’s a talented designer in her own right and will often swoop in at the last minute with a great idea or suggestion.
Finally we got one that everyone liked and the book was finally done! These images show some of the early thumbnails for covers and some of the more finished mock-ups.
That’s it! Kind of like seeing sausage made—it tastes good but not always fun to see how it’s made. Except…I actually think it’s pretty fun. Not the sausage making…the comics part.