Read part one of this series!
Logan has lived his life to its fullest, replete with friends, lovers, allies, enemies and more. Not surprisingly, the DEATH OF WOLVERINE limited series will be full of cameos capitalizing upon the character’s rich history.
In the second installment of a four-part examination, writer Charles Soule, artist Steve McNiven, editor Mike Marts, inker Jay Leisten, colorist Justin Ponsor and editor Katie Kubert delve into the symbolism and clues that populate and inform the cover for DEATH OF WOLVERINE #2.
Marvel.com: Charles, Steve and Mike, can you give us a peek at the objectives you had in mind, in terms of what you wanted to achieve with this cover? In particular, while it is clear that Wolverine has been in a fight, we do not see his opponent. Was that a conscious choice to create an additional layer of mystery to the cover?
Charles Soule: Part of the fun of this story is its many cameos. We aren't bringing in every last character Logan's ever met, but we'll see a bunch of cool folks. However, cameos work in part because of the element of surprise, so I think it's good that we aren't ruining it too specifically here. That said, anyone who knows Wolverine's history could probably put two and two together here to figure out where he is, who those eyes belong to, why green is a major color element.
Steve McNiven: Definitely. I think with all of the covers, the adversaries that Logan confronts are not directly shown but referred to within the imagery of the covers.
Mike Marts: With DEATH OF WOLVERINE #2, the setting of the story plays a large part in the plot of the story. And the coloring on the cover plays a big part, too—it’s specifically designed to suggest a certain adversary!
Marvel.com: With this cover, there's a great deal to catch the reader's attention: the mysterious eyes, the city skyline and the three chains—in addition to Wolverine of course. When settling upon an ambitious cover such as this, is there a debate among those designing it as to how many elements you want to convey to the reader?
Steve McNiven: I don't know if it's a debate, rather a back and forth about what works and what doesn't within the cover roughs that I send along.
Marvel.com: Blood is another cover element that clearly stands out to the viewer. Was there much of a discussion on where to place the blood on this cover, or did the creative team leave that decision up to Steve?
Steve McNiven: I don't recall much of a ‘blood’ discussion. I guess that I'm a sucker for drawing blood and guts and wanted to show Logan has been in a fight. Again, these covers are not showing you exactly what is happening inside the book, but giving a feeling as to the overall storyline involved in the issue. There are many wonderful covers over the years that are single shots of a dramatic moment inside the comic but we are not going that route, but more of a symbolic one bringing in a number of elements that the reader will encounter within the pages of the issue.
Marvel.com: Steve and Jay, I'm curious to hear what kind of creative discussions you had on this cover. In particular, Steve were there certain details of the cover that you needed Jay to capitalize upon.
Steve McNiven: Jay is a top notch inker and so I trust him to interpret what I have penciled up and usually do not give any art direction beyond asking for halos around figures and such, usually written on the cover itself. Most times Jay has some great ideas for techniques that I haven't even thought of and he'll run these by me before doing his magic.
Jay Leisten: For this piece I was really wanting to focus on separating the different layers and doing that with texture like the one on the chains and Wolverine; using all freehanded lines and a bouncy rhythm on the foreground and all clean straight lines on the building backgrounds. The eyes in the sky I used a flat technical line that would be easier for Justin to trap or color hold making the image more ethereal and forcing the darker solid black objects of the middle and foreground closer to the viewer.
Marvel.com: While I have been looking at comic book covers for several decades, I do not have the training or eye to design one. This cover in particular uses some subdued colors—predominantly green and gray—which makes Logan stand out even more on the cover. How did the creative team arrive at the colors used on this cover?
Steve McNiven: As Mike said, it was designed to suggest a certain adversary.
Justin Ponsor: Steve's efficient and perfectly descriptive note was “Fincher greens,” painting an instant mental image. I needed grimy and gritty to stay in line with the ominous tone of the story, so to enhance the green feel without the chroma I kept Logan's skin tone a bit complementary.
Marvel.com: One last question for everyone: is there an element of the cover in particular that you are extremely pleased as how it turned out in the final version?
Charles Soule: I like Logan's costume. As I've mentioned, there's a genre feel to each issue that varies as the story progresses. This particular issue has sort of a Logan as James Bond thing going on, and I think Steve and crew nailed that. He's in what's left of a tuxedo there, which is a fun look for Wolverine that we don't get to see all that often. It's just supposed to feel like a significant contrast to the cover for #1, and I think it gets there and then some.
Steve McNiven: I thought Jay did an amazing job with the chains and Logan's ripped clothes, and Justin really nailed the green glow of the city. It's a real pleasure working with two talented artists like Jay and Justin!
Jay Leisten: Justin really has a knack for drawing your eye with color. Knowing when to knock out lines of the inks is always tricky and he's so good at knowing when to turn a line 10-20% red—or green in this case—for a texture effect makes the image more real. The green glow on the skyscrapers is an excellent example of that.
Justin Ponsor: I'm happy with the depth we achieved here and the relative contrast of all the elements and the focal hierarchy. Steve and Jay have been providing me with outstanding lines on these covers—and the interiors!—and I appreciate their trust in allowing me to bring the lines up from black to color as Jay was mentioning. When I do that, I take great care to retain the visibility of the edges so their painstaking work remains evident. My goal in blending the lines is two-fold: to enhance the depth and readability by increasing the difference between elements; and to bring the image a step closer to a painted or realistic feel.
Katie Kubert: Being brought on board to the DEATH OF WOLVERINE series in June, my first impression of this cover was it in its finished state—and my favorite element is the intense impact this has on the reader. Specifically, that line of fog behind Wolverine adds an element of dread, of much more on the horizon to come, and really helps to elevate Wolverine visually and heroically. Charles, Steve, Jay, Justin and Mike all did an incredible job developing and building the perfect visual representation of “more is to come!”
Tomorrow, the DEATH OF WOLVERINE creative team discusses the cover for issue #3 and how it plays into the landmark series!