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.


Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign…

Last weekend was my farewell to the Connecticut Renaissance Faire for the season.

King Henry VIII treats the peasants to a dramatic reading.
King Henry VIII (Christian Galpin) treats the peasants to a dramatic reading of Action Figures at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire. Yes, it was as weird as it sounds.

My wife’s assistant Kate is back for the final weekend (after taking a few days away to go to New York, get engaged, and meet Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick while dressed as Captain Marvel…and yes, you read all that correctly), which means I get to stay home and work on draft one of book two of Action Figures.

That’s right, I am already working on the sequel, and I have been getting the “Write faster!” treatment from people who have already blown through book one, and want to be on the test-reader list for book two. Flattering, that.

As flattering as all the requests I received over the weekend to sign copies of my book. I think I signed eight copies, and one thing I learned: it’s tough coming up with unique and witty inscriptions. But it’s a good problem to have.

I also received a few inquiries about the e-book version, and so far things are on-track there. I’m expecting the Kindle version to be ready to go next week, and sorry, Nook owners, it’ll be a lot longer before you see a version. I’m taking advantage of the Kindle Direct Publishing perks, which means I’m locked into a Kindle-exclusive deal for 90 days from the e-book’s release, so non-Kindle owners will have to wait a few months more (or download one of the many free Kindle aps for your computer, tablet, or phone).