making a comicbook back cover
the time Dennis Eichhorn asked me to do the cover I´d already received
a script for an interior story. For the cover I wanted to do a wraparound
but the subject matter I chose didn't lend itself, so I pushed for
my single page story, "Nowhere Man," to be the color back cover.
"Nowhere Man" has Eichhorn enter a bar and order a "Groupie Special,"
a mixture of Chivas Regal Scotch and coke that the Beatles made
popular. The bartender, a mook, mildly chastises Eichhorn for mixing
good Scotch with coke. Eichhorn brushes the bartender off and we
see that the calendar behind his head reads "December 8," which
is the day John Lennon was killed. So although it's not stated directly
in the script or in his instructions to me, the story is about Denny
drinking to the memory of John Lennon (fig 10).
scripts are sometimes cryptic. I still don't
know why the bartender, who's already saying
"What'll it be?," needs to be flipping a coaster.
I usually follow such requests anyway, in the
likelihood that there's a subtlety I'm missing.
My brother Chris suggested I put an apple on
the coaster to suggest The Beatles´ record label.
This gave the coaster extra purpose.
found myself working on the look of the bartender character. In the
process I found a way to get some of the continuity of a "wraparound"
cover with unconnected pieces of art. I decided that, at least in
my mind, the bartender that complains about Denny´s "waste of scotch"
is actually Kenny, the kid that strangled Eichhorn on the schoolyard
years before. Maybe you see the resemblance (fig 11).
Kenny and Denny from the
front cover (top tier) and the back.
I wanted the front cover to tie
into the back, so I aged the
characters. Now Denny could
exact revenge on his school-
yard strangler by stiffing him
on a bar tip.
I like the symmetry of situations like this. My daughter discovered
that a girl she pals around with in school was in her summer camp
a year ago. They almost surely were friends back then but didn't remember
each other and inadvertently reestablished their friendship in kindergarten
by coincidence. Since my daughter is only six, two years ago is enough
of a chunk of her life away to forget, even if it seems like yesterday
to us old coots. It would be the same for Denny and Kenny The Strangler.
I wonder how many times we've encountered strangers we pass on the
street and how similar our chemistry is each time. Sometimes the kid
we fought with on the schoolyard becomes a friend. In this case, I
decided Denny and Kenny would still have a lot of friction.
for Nowhere Man. This is as tight
as I can pencil.
final back cover.
I make a few photocopies of the page
reduced to printed comicbook size, a
tip from my friend Pete Friedrich. I
mark up one photocopy with a red pen
to figure out where I need whiteout
and ink corrections (above).
I use the remaining photocopies to experiment
with additional black placement. It's
awful to blacken a big portion of a
panel just to find out it doesn't work
and that you have no way to make it
white again. Experiment on xeroxes for
I had no idea how difficult it would
be to draw a glass of Scotch and coke
(fig 13). I had to figure out
the refraction, the way the bubbles
cling to the straw, the way the coke
darkens the drink deeper in the glass.
The ice cubes were the worst, and required
booze ads for reference, especially
for the colors. But I had to look at
a lot of real drinks to get the art
This story gave me a brief interest
in Scotch. I quickly escalated
from Chivas to the obscure single-malts.
I never mixed it with coke. The recent
Spirit story Denny and I did
got me into golf in a similar way.
It turns out that golf is a good way
to work off a hangover.