process section 2
page 3 of 3
next section



Next Process 

skip over to
coloring process


process contents

section 1: pages
chapter one: planning a page of the spirit
chapter two: drawing a page of the spirit

section 2: covers
chapter three: planning a comicbook cover
chapter four: making the final cover
• chapter five: making a comicbook back cover

section 3: computer coloring NEW!
chapter six: the line art scan
chapter seven: the color art
chapter eight: color and design

section two
chapter five
making a comicbook back cover

reaching the idea

By 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).

fig 10

Writers 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.

Spirit Script



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.

Young and Old(er) 

I 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).

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.

fig 12 Pencils for Nowhere Man. This is as tight
as I can pencil

Nowhere Pencils

fig 12 The final back cover.

Real Stuff 17 Back Cover 

Fig 13 Marked up inks.
Use xeroxes!

Mark Ups

After I ink 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 safety!

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 right.

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.

Next Process 

on to the
next process section:
coloring process



skip to
artist profile






Go Home