PROMETHEA COVER DESIGNS
Promethea is a character and storyline involving magic and fantasy, and as with Tom Strong, we drew on a wide range of book, magazine and comics covers, as well as art from many other mediums, in an attempt to create something new for each issue. I think that effort worked particularly well with Promethea, largely due to the wonderful artwork of J.H. Williams III. He really enjoyed the challenges we threw at him, and by the end of the series was coming up with lots of good ideas of his own. In fact, as we progressed, the focus of many of the covers became a particular artist that we all liked, and that J.H. would emulate throughout that entire issue.
This alternate cover of issue one is by Alex Ross, though, who also painted a terrific image from J.H.'s character design sketch. Promethea's origin mixes elements of Egyptian and Greek mythology, and the symbols along the sides represent that. The Art Nouveau frame, titles and logo I created just felt right for the character to me.
Issue three was inspired by the famously surreal newspaper strip LITTLE NEMO IN SLUMBERLAND by Winsor McCay, originally published in the early part of the 20th century. The image is broken into three sections to suggest comic strip panels, though the image is continuous. It certainly is surreal, though.
Issue four is drawn directly from the profusely illustrated books of William Morris's Kelmscott Press released toward the end of the 19th century. Morris was a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, an attempt to return to medieval themes and hand-crafted work. The floral border here is a Morris design and the font is one created by Morris for the Kelmscott books. J.H. did a fine job of matching the woodcut style in his central picture.
The idea for issue seven's cover came from Alan Moore, who also provided the words for the balloons and caption. I had a great time finding some old DC Comics romance covers for J.H. to emulate, and he did a fine job. The lettering and logo are in the style of Ira Schnapp, long-time DC Cover letterer. The background area needed something (J.H. had left it blank), so I added the floating hearts.
Not only was the cover of issue 11 done sideways, imitating a wide-screen 1950s horror movie lobby-card, the entire issue was created that way as well. The over-the-top logo and the very compressed credits type completed the movie poster homage. I love this cover, and Stacia's expression still makes me laugh every time I look at it.
The cover of issue 12 is my favorite, harkening back to the psychedelic concert posters of the sixties created for the Fillmore in San Francisco. I did the most work on this cover of any of them. J.H. and inker Mick Gray did the figure and caduceus, Alan wrote the words, and I did the rest, including the colors. The style is drawn from several posters, but mainly from the work of Bonnie MacLean.
Issue 14 is in the style of science-fiction artist Virgil Finlay, who J.H. and I both admire for his precise, detailed pen work and cross-hatching. Finlay's art was a staple of the 1940s SF pulp magazines. In this case, J.H. sent me the mostly-finished cover and I created the logo area at the top in pen and ink to match the style. The rest of the type was added on the computer.
Another artist we both admired was the inspiration for issue 15, M.C. Escher, also a master of pen and ink as well as mathematical optical illustions. For this cover I created the entire background of tiles morphing to stars as well as the logo.
For issue 23 we went the entire way into the Art Nouveau style of Alphonse Mucha. I love the way J.H. has the white space define the central poster image, allowing the doves to break across it. The entire "Kabbalah" sequence comprising issues 13-23 had one additional design requirement. Each took place on one of the levels of the Kabbalah, and J.H. and Alan wanted to mainly use the specific colors associated with each level. Toward the end this became quite challenging. For this issue the color scheme was white and gold.
Issue 27 is a pastiche of the 1970s tabloid comic "Superman Vs. The Amazing Spider-Man", the first DC-Marvel crossover story, very appropriate for this crossover with Tom Strong. Once again I had too much fun recreating the logo and type styles. The original is below, for comparison.
Issue 29 was inspired by Andy Warhol, combining two of his themes: the pop art of the soup can and repeating images in a variety of wild colors. Note that this is the cover as I turned it in, but the bottom title was removed for the printed version to avoid possible legal problems. Hopefully no one will object to my putting it here.
All text and images ©Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.
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