Friday, June 13, 2008

Why Isolation Works

Being alone in a life threatening situation is, safe to say, one of our major universal fears. The feeling that there is no one coming to save you. Where silence and estrangement are married with your senses while your thoughts turn against you.

In a desert with no food or water. In a dark alley where shadows play leap frog and street lamps are shattered. In the middle of the ocean on a piece of drift wood. These are text book cases that imbue a "fight or flight" syndrome in each of us.

So how do we put a character on a cover, with any myriad of formulaic situations to stimulate "fight or flight", and have the viewer empathize in a way to evoke fear?

I think the answer lies in the character depicted.

Can you relate to the character? So much that you feel they are an extension of your same thoughts? Brilliant writers do this on a daily basis to empathize with millions of people at a time. Some with a first person tone, while others from a 3rd person perspective.

Out of all the comics I've read, there are literally a handful that I can relate to when comparing the day to day situations they are placed in, out of costume. If a writer can achieve that, then when they are IN costume, their situations are emotionally more dire for us, the reader. When they get bruised, we feel the punches, when they get dropped of a cliff, we get the rush of the freefall. If they bleed, we feel the cut.

Speaking of blood, if that's what you're afraid of, then I suggest this frightening reality. I present Marvel's Kiss Super Special which features actual blood from the band members mixed with the ink. Now THAT's something
to be afraid of.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Beware of What You Fear

After much deliberation and thinking, there really wasn't any cover monster that I could think of that has scared me. At least enough to prevent me from buying the book, or if I did, to warrant nightmares thereafter. Comic monsters are a little hokey by today's cinema standards. Hands raising through floorboards of a decrepit house to an alligator headed man monster were a couple that came to mind, but pale in comparison to "The Grudge" ghost or a certain child in "The Exorcist". (The latter which I'll never own a copy of nor bring 'cross my threshold.)

However, it is possible to create a visual tie-in with our innate fears and exploit those fears. If your greatest fear is an unknown threat, then covers that feature bystanders about to become eviscerated by a monstrous creature may be your forte. House of Secrets, House of Mystery, and The Witching Hour were able to capitalize on great suspense covers in this particular fear.

If your fear is necrotic driven, then Zombies, being buried alive, and being eaten alive may be closer to what sends you running.

My personal fears of drowning or dying of some unknown disease have also been exploited in some fashion, but don't keep me up at night.

What, then, can we put on a good cover, that affects us personally? How are our personal fears being exploited and did it merit buying the book in hopes of our own personal salvation?

I guess some fears are more universal than others and thus get more ink time.

Though a cover of someone breathing their last minutes, dying of cancer, with no loved ones around is horrifying, give me space zombies about to devour lovers in the park, at night, anytime.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Covers that make you go EW.

I want to encompass this weeks competition with an updated rule or two. The monster on the book cover no longer has to threaten the viewer or have threatened you, but rather is a cool monster idea that you appreciate. I also think we should open up this week's cover to also include humans portrayed as being monstrosities themselves. Be it an image that affected you with an ew feeling.

After pondering the possibilities, I realized that most of the covers that terrified me belonged to Fangoria and magazines of the like, but not being a comic per se, wouldn't qualify.

I hope this helps some as this weeks competition has a wider spectrum now.

That being said here's my pick of the week. Ew, fff--fff-f-f-ffreakin' EW! You know there is something wrong when someone can render fairly realistically what being shot in the face with a shotgun might look like. My cover for this week's monstrosity is the Preacher cover featuring Arseface. Here's a character that would be allowed to eat at Clive Barker's dinner table.

A troubled youth with a neglectful family, his mundane life tries to make a turn for suicide, a la Cobain, but he survives. He's not a villain by the traditional sense of the word, but does seek vengeance for a portion of his story.

The abonimation that remains on this cover gave me a while to get over the first time I saw it. Glenn Fabry makes skin feel thick and bulbous with his rendering technique. You almost don't want to know about this character from his visage, but there lies a hint of curiosity in his back story. Not really a protagonist, Arseface gave me a new appreciation to Fabry and of disgust.

I've read rumors this character was based on a factual event.

Twisted? Yes. Own the issue? No.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cover for June 9th - 13th

Welcome to the new week!

I noticed a trend in the media dealing with Vampiric activity. From new game trailers, to hot books, to new movies to be released. This week's cover is going to focus on your favorite monster rendering. One that struck terror into you as a child, or one that galvanized you into collecting a certain artist.

You can go with any movie monster to comic cult favorite. Wrightson's Swamp Thing to Frazetta's cover trolls that graced the covers of Creepy. Neal Adams Dracula to Arthur Adams Mojo. If it's a monster in any way, it's legal.

Please make sure it follows the guidelines for our code of what dictates a strong cover.
I know there may have been many so just pick one of your favorites.

Until I figure out how to work this blog, please send me your entries and I'll post them here for all to see!