The cover story
Well, here we are at our latest cover week, otherwise known as the-break-that’s-not-really-a-break before we get started on the next chapter. I suppose we’re peculiar in that we use a placeholder in the episode we’re currently working on, then at the end of the arc is when we debut the cover and shuffle it into its proper position. I think this all started because we used a cropped version of Dawn’s original drawing as the cover image for our sneak preview, but then a few months down the road when we started seriously entertaining the idea of self-publishing a full print comic, Dawn was ready to do something different, so she created an all new illustration.
These covers tend to be Dawn’s jealously guarded refuge from my occasional micromanagement tendencies. We still talk about them, but I tend to have limited review and input compared to the week-to-week story pages… so it’s less a matter of getting individual details correct than the artist getting “set free” to put together something that looks cool. It’s not unheard of in comics, for sure, as there’s been many a cover promising a hero lying limp at the feet of a gloating villain that you don’t find anywhere in the comic itself.
I do still meddle occasionally, because I like to maintain a symbolic connection to the content even if, for example, we still haven’t seen that exact photograph pictured for Issue/Episode #4. So I asked for a spattering of old zombie blood and composed a caption signifying better times (and oddly enough, confirming that Memorial Day is still celebrated, which would have been much more timely in a real world sense had it occurred on this week’s cover instead!). There are also times Dawn herself still decides to solicit my help, which is how we ended up with a Texas flag draped on Issue 3 rather than just something more generic. Nothing is a complete vaccuum, and probably stronger in the end for the give and take. Heck, I remember for Issue 2 we took some time to let all you readers help us decide which concept to use.
Today’s cover is unique in that we’ve had the idea of it percolating for months. It’s entirely possible that I’ve had it on my brain at least since the end of Issue 3, where we saw The Exec (a.k.a. “Sir”) pontificating on how a clever person could ”stack the deck”. This is a man who is literally playing with peoples’ lives, so I loved the idea that we might show him holding up a hand of poker with the cards representing some of the dramatis personae he’s worked to bring into conflict. Nicely thematic, right? But I wanted to wait until we finally brought Muriel and Suzie into confrontation– and here we are!
This is probably the most specific I’ve ever gotten with a cover idea so far, but as I started blathering on about various details Dawn reminded me I was treading her sacred turf… so I scaled back to merely dictating who should be what face card and left the rest up to her. And with that “dealt” with, it’ll be time to move on to Episode 6. See you then!