Friday, July 31, 2009

This is why it pays to have a good editor...

And I have two good editors on Olympians. Mark Siegel, head honcho of First Second, acts in the capacity of my art director, whereas Neal Porter acts in the capacity of my text editor, helping me to refine my words and story. I'm also ably assisted by Calista Brill, who keeps the whole show running, and David Langva, but I digress. Back to why it's important to have a good editor (or four).

Longtime readers of this blog may remember seeing this pencil sketch before:



Not bad, but it is a small sketch. Everyone liked it, signed off on it, and then came time to do the finish.

Normally this is not a problem that I have, but I just couldn't nail this drawing. It's no exaggeration to say that I probably drew about 7 separate pencil drawings of this, and none of them were clicking. The signs were all there that the composition was falling apart at a larger size, but I couldn't see them. Hades looked too small, when we were looking down on him, Cerberus looked liked three dogs, rather than one horrible 3 headed beast. I even took some embarrassing photo reference of myself, acting all mopey on my throne, which has since ended up in the hands of nefarious forces. Finally, over one weekend, I said screw it, and penciled, inked and colored the below image (with several departures from the sketch).



At the time, I was so burnt on this whole cover that I fooled myself into thinking the above image was good. I look at it now with a real feeling of 'meh', so much so that I almost didn't put it up on the site. But at the time, I was blind to it's faults.

Cut to a few days later. I'm at my studio, drawing away when I get a phone call from my two aforementioned editors, Neal and Mark. To their credit, they approached it very carefully, but they said, gently of course, that the Hades cover wasn't working for them. Demeter's headshot overwhelmed the piece, Cerberus still looked like three digs,Hades looked like he had a migraine. A lot of illustrators will get pissed when there's changes to be made after the sketches were signed off on, but I am grateful they flagged this one. We talked a bit, and while I was on the phone with them , I knocked off a few sketches of the cover design you see below. In my opinion, it's stronger in nearly every conceivable way.



So there you have it. Editors can be your friends.

4 comments:

John A. Walsh said...

Wow— that's a dramatic change from the first cover you created. And dramatically better as well!

Not only is the composition so much stronger, but the colors are handled excellently.

George O'Connor said...

Thanks. I'm pretty pleased with it as well. My favorite bit is the crazy look in Demeter's eyes.

John A. Walsh said...

Yeah, the eyes really get across her mood. The other thing I noticed is that this newer cover compliments the cover for The Glory of Hera quite nicely.

Tim Hamilton said...

This gets a big thumbs up!!