Graphic Novels: Why do the covers often look so much better than what’s inside?

When I browse the shelves of a comic book store, looking for something new and different to read, I scan them fast. My eyes only stop moving when they hit a cover so beautifully illustrated that I just have to grab the book and look inside. I’m not talking about any kind of beautiful; what leaps off the shelf at me is the kind of atmospheric artwork that looks like traditional painting. When I see that, I immediately flip the book open. And, 9 times out of 10, my heart sinks. Because what’s inside isn’t more pages of that fully-painted art. Instead, it’s the conventional inked lines we’re used to. Great work, often rendered beautifully by very talented artists. But it’s not like the painting on the cover.


There have been exceptions: Early Dave McKean (Violent Cases, Arkham Asylum). Some of Simon Bisley’s work. The stunning Spawn: Architects of Fear (artwork by Aleksei Briclot). But aside from these few, it’s hard to think of examples of books where the actual pages live up to the promise of that gorgeously rendered cover art. So that became my goal: To make a graphic novel that grabs you with the cover, then matches - or surpasses - that quality of artwork with every one of its 124 pages.


At some point, as I laboured like a madman, I began to realise why there are so few fully-painted graphic novels; they take forever to do! The average comic book artist can pencil 1 or 2 pages of high quality art per day, which they usually hand off to an inker to complete. Depending on the complexity of the pages, painting can take much, much longer. So if you ever decide to make a graphic novel, and are tempted to render every page in that same lavish, painterly cover-art style…My advice is ‘Don’t’. Be kind to yourself and pencil it instead.


But, since I went ahead and tried to make each page as visually appealing as the cover, maybe you can tell me: Have I succeeded…?

Terminal Dark cover

Terminal Dark sample page

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Comments: 29
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  • #12

    Dave Fraser (Monday, 06 February 2017 20:35)

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    @ Rolande: Thanks for your question! I don't have a newsletter, as I currently only have one book available for purchase. I figure a newsletter only becomes useful to keep people abreast of new releases, or signings, and as it's an ebook I won't be doing any signings.

    @ Ashlyn: Thanks for your comment. I'm not sure what it is that's confusing to you. Don't be afraid to ask me if there's something I can clarify; I'll do my best to answer any questions :)

    @ Lynsey: I think it's a great idea to exchange links and guest blog - Thank you for your kind offer! If you click on the 'Contact' tab, you can email me, and we'll work out the details :)

    Cheers everyone, and have a great day!


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  • #29

    Dave Fraser (Wednesday, 15 February 2017 18:51)


    Thanks for the encouraging comments, everyone! To those who asked, unfortunately I don't have an RSS feed, but am looking into how to create one. Thanks for your patience. Hopefully we'll be up and running soon!