The process of getting a comic together can take some strange turns. From time to time, I’ll have an idea for an element of a book, whether it’s a line of dialogue or a plot twist or just about anything else. I’ll be thrilled about this idea, because it will seem like the best ever. Then, eventually I see the finished version, and I’m like hooooooly crow… mistake. If I’m lucky, it’s not too costly, and won’t require massive rewrites or new art. It’s just part of the process, though. As I’ve said a bunch of times, you don’t always have all your good ideas at once, and being able to recognize and discard bad ideas is incredibly important.
With 27 Second Set, we decided to continue the series’ tradition of using homages to famous images of musicians as the covers for each issue. First Set used members of the 27 Club. Second Set is using one-hit wonders. As I write this, Issues 1 and 2 are on shelves, as well as available digitally, for those who prefer reading on smartphones, tablets and laptops (Issue 3 is out next week, November 23). The cover for Issue 1 is an homage to Vanilla Ice. The cover for Issue 2 references The Buggles. It’s one of my favorite covers of the whole series – Scott Forbes really nailed it. I’ve posted it before, but I think it’s so great I’m going to put it up again:
However, that gorgeous image wasn’t our first attempt. Originally, I was completely certain that the best idea for this cover would be to use the cover to Chumbawumba’s “Tubthumper” album. You know, this one:
My thinking was that it’s an instantly recognizable cover, it has some nice graphic design, and it would be easy for Scott to do, since it’s basically just one head. I was going to use Valerie Hayes as the “head” (she’s the one-hit wonder witch who serves as the main villain of the second arc, and issue 2 is largely about her). Scott did exactly what I asked and came up with this:
That’s not to say that image isn’t cool, because it is, and the final would certainly have been even cooler. However, what we realized is that the cover was going to be creepy, and not in that way a cool Hellblazer cover or one of the new Animal Man covers tend to be, but in a “that’s an unappealing face and I don’t want to look at it or read a book with a character like that in it” kind of creepy. Again, not Scott’s fault at all – this was my call and it wasn’t a very good one. Once we realized that this was probably sort of a dead end, we started to kick around new ideas. Devo, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the Divinyls and a bunch of other artists were considered before we settled on the Buggles, and I’m so glad we took the time. Scott banged out the new cover lickety split, and the results speak for themselves.
The covers for #3 and #4 went much more smoothly, and I look forward to talking about them a bit in months to come. We’re at the halfway point of Second Set, and things just weirder and more awesome from here, believe me.