This weekend a new series, Transformers (vs?) G.I. Joe was announced by me and John Barber. Here are the steps that led to the final image that was used for the announcement.
I’d pitched a number of possible compositions with the idea of it being big, bold and Kirbyesque. This is the one we settled on, trying to capture the essence of Kirby’s big fisheye lens warped-perspective battles like Daredevil #43 or Captain America #106, with Destro and Duke fighting in the foreground like Destro and Col. Hawk from Herb Trimpe’s excellent cover to G.I.Joe #6 (one of my favorite issues of the series).
In addition to taking inspiration from Trimpe’s Joe cover for Destro and Duke, I also wanted to capture some of the extreme body language in Orion and Darkseid’s big battle to the death in Kirby’s New Gods story “Even Gods Must Die!”
Trying to channel the combined essence of these images while maintaining my own voice, I take a first pass at the pencils:
I feel like the fist needs to be bigger to really sell the perspective. Here it is with the bigger badder fist:
Here’s the inked version.
Here it is with eye-searing psychedelic color:
If this were “Starmorrfens vs. The Icelandic Army” this cover would be perfect, but it’s “Transformers vs. G.I. Joe.” I can take these characters into whatever crazy realm the story demands, but they still need to be recognizable as the characters they are. There’s a learning curve to getting comfortable with drawing characters you haven’t drawn before, and with each attempt the likenesses keep getting better. Paying careful attention to keeping the characters on-model, while still putting my stamp on them, I make alterations to the figures.
Here’s the finished cover, utilizing the same palette that I used for American Barbarian. I’m pleased with the results and am looking forward to sharing other images I’ve drawn for this series when the time is right. I’ve been experimenting with a range of styles. I have enough lead time on this project that I’m able to craft the story and art with an exacting attention to detail I’ve never before attempted.