Images © DC Comics.
In 1982, while on staff at DC, I was asked to create a framing device for the covers of a three-part WONDER WOMAN story. The idea was to make it look as much as possible like a hardcover book. There would be two large boxes, the top one for the DC symbol, WW logo (I designed it based on the Milton Glaser chest symbol), the price box, code seal, and room for large title lettering. The bottom one would hold the cover art. I drew it out in pencil, then inked all the borders and lines with technical drawing pens. The illusion of depth needed to make it work was helped by the application of a Zip-a-tone pattern that is meant to suggest the rough texture of a cloth book binding. The large box at lower left is for the UPC code, and it definitely hurts the attempted depth of the book spine, but there was nothing I could do about that.
A closer look at the upper right corner. The Zip-a-tone has shrunk with age, leaving gaps where the pieces once met. To get the shaded effect on the binding I scraped away some of the texture with an Exacto knife, being careful not to cut the film. That worked pretty well. Darker areas like the one along the top had two layers of tone. I had to allow for bleed, which is why the top, right and bottom edges look a little odd.
Here’s the first printed cover, WONDER WOMAN #291, May 1982. I also lettered the titles and spine copy separately and later, and it was all put together by DC Production, probably Bob LeRose. My frame was held in color, which I think works fine, though I wish they had put the spine copy and the outer borders of the boxes in colors too, so it would mesh better. Still, I think the overall effect is pretty good, and I didn’t mind getting paid extra for the frame. I see my name was even added to the credits, probably the first time that happened for me.
The second cover used different colors for the frame. This one is trimmed badly, leaving too much of the frame at the top, and not enough at the bottom, but that’s what bleed is for, and the printing quality was not as good then as it is now.
The third cover of the trilogy is just a little redder in the frame than the first one. A fun project, and the kind of thing I sometimes got to do just by being there on staff when an extra project came up.
By the way, the original frame art will be on eBay starting this evening, if anyone is interested in it.