Anatomy Of A Bad Cover

cover-lowrestrimCover art has been on my mind a lot lately. As previously mentioned in this blog, I rather agonized over the cover concept for Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women; I noted the conceptual similarities between the covers of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins (by my artist Tricia Lupien) and the forthcoming issue of Ms. Marvel (by Annie Wu); and my buddy J.M Aucoin recently unveiled the cover art for his upcoming Jake Hawking omnibus (which, I add, I am looking forward to, since I am not a big e-book reader).

Cover art is a pretty critical element of the final novel package, and an element that a lot of novice authors overlook or ignore. Pop over to Lousy Book Covers and you’ll see how wrong covers can go, and I think that will serve as enough of an explanation as to why good covers are important. I mean, would you pick up any of those books?

Comic Book Resources recently posted a harsh, but dead-on, analysis of the cover for the newest relaunch of DC Comics’ Teen Titans. At first glance, the artwork (by Kenneth Rocafort) looks pretty damn cool, but CBR delves into its flaws in terms of concept, composition, and how it presents its characters — in particular Wonder Girl, who CBR maintains is sexualized to a ridiculous degree. It’s hard to disagree.

Teen Titans CoverThe background clearly suggests a high school setting is involved, and the book is called Teen Titans, so it’s not unreasonable to assume we’re looking at a teenage girl — and teenage girls do not look like that (not without the benefit of no small amount of plastic surgery).

It’s easy to dismiss criticism of Wonder Girl’s look as pointless fretting over sexed-up comic book females because that’s what comic book females look like, they’re idealized versions of real women, so shut up already and enjoy the book for what it is, but chances are, the people saying that are all guys who like their super-heroines to look like Victoria’s Secret models, but that’s one reason why such representations are so subversive: they send a message to readers that this is the norm for female characters.

This cover is the latest misstep for DC Comics’ “New 52” relaunch, which also shrank Starfire’s already skimpy costume, reimagined Harley Quinn as a pole dancer, and turned Amanda Waller, one of DC’s best characters, period, from a big, middle-aged African-American woman into a young, skinny, sexy African-American woman, because reasons.

Someone needs to show DC the memo that girls and women read comics too. Better yet, they need to show them Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run on Captain Marvel and show them how to do a character redesign right.


And Now, For Something Completely Different

This past weekend, Mike the writer took a weekend off to play minion for my wife Veronica, who had a booth at the Rhode Island ComicCon (the third con ever for Storied Threads).

For me, the fun part of working cons is playing “spot the cosplay.” I’ve grown to appreciate how creative and clever some people can be, with their costume choices and in crafting their costumes and props, and I love the costumes that go in wonderfully weird directions — the ones who stand out among the thousands of Adventure Time outfits, Jokers and Harley Quinns, Deadpools, and (yes, I’ll say it) Doctors.

To wit, perhaps my favorite outfit of the show, for the obscurity of it: Captain Chaos, Dom DeLuise‘s alter-ego from The Cannonball Run.


This fellow made the best of a bad leg and went as Professor X from the X-Men, but he went the extra mile and wore a Cerebro rig.

Funny thing is, I don't remember posing for this picture.
Funny thing is, I don’t remember posing for this picture.

This girl wasn’t any specific character, but I loved the steampunk weapons rig. It was extremely well-done.

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An odd but cool crossover: Soundwave (with Laserbeak) and Mr. Freeze.

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Another fun, unusual choice: Dum-Dum Dugan of the Howling Commandos, with, for some reason, the Infinity Gauntlet.

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This girl has a pretty cool (ha, see what I did there?) Jack Frost (from Rise of the Guardians) outfit in general, but I was wowed by the staff, which had a PVC pipe frame, and was then covered in crinkled masking tape for the texture, given a brown base coat, a white and blue frost layer, and then, to finish, more white and blue mixed with glitter.

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