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A ‘Hit’ Piece On Cover Artist Ryan Sook

Boom Studios Hit Ryan Sook Cover #3 process ComicsAlliance

On sale now from BOOM! Studios is Hit #3, the penultimate issue of the 1950s Los Angeles crime drama written by Bryce Carlson and drawn by Vanessa R. Del Rey. Part of the publisher’s We Are Boom campaign spotlighting original (as opposed to licensed) works, Hit has received decent word-of-mouth and the first issue even sold out of its initial print run of 10,000 copies. Contributing to that success is the cover artwork of comics veteran Ryan Sook, whose Hit work is a distinctly gritty departure from the artist’s traditionally shiny, even inspiring superhero illustrations for DC Comics and others. The covers are a good fit with Del Rey’s scratchy but sexy sequentials, which combined with the moody palette of Archie Van Buren and the period-appropriate lettering and design of Ed Dukeshire and Hanna Nance Partlow makes Hit one of the more attractive packages coming out of BOOM Studios at the moment.

We had a chance to see some of Sook’s preliminary cover concepts for this week’s Hit #3, which were quite striking and prompted some questions about his process. The artist was gracious enough to answer them.

 

Boom Studios Hit Ryan Sook Cover #3 process ComicsAlliance roughs
(click to enlarge) “Hit” #3 cover concepts by Ryan Sook

 

ComicsAlliance: Ryan, the roughs you created for Hit #3 are all very different. What’s the starting point for these? 

Ryan Sook: The starting point for this cover, as with all the Hit covers, was the script. I had conversations with Bryce Carlson, the author, early on in conceptualizing about the overall feel of the covers but the scenes themselves all came directly from the scripts.

CA: I think my favorite is “B.” The blood and sex combo is always eye-catching but even more so here, against the stark bathroom setting. The figures staged in sort of “everyday” poses also makes it kind of darkly funny. But the final cover is also very evocative. It’s very grim, telling a different story altogether. 

RS: Each rough you see is basically just a scene from the issue or at the least takes its cue from the script. So the bathroom scene in sketches “A” and “B” are the clean up from something dastardly. The scene is actually not written in the script, only the aftermath is referred to, but I thought that scene did have something very pulpish and as you said “darkly humorous” that could have made for a nice final image. The other two are also my take on scenes from the issue that I thought might work well. There is a lot of good material in these issues to play with so I had as many options as the editors and publishers did in choosing one. Which they did.

 

Hit #3 cover line art Ryan Sook boom studios
(click to enlarge) “Hit” #3 cover line art by Ryan Sook

 

CA: How is the final decision reached in cases like this, where there are so many different options?

RS: Why they chose sketch C over the others is something you’d have to ask Bryce. I don’t know the answer to that one except I assume they liked it better or thought it was more unique than the others.

CA: Would it be fair to say your Hit covers are more…textured than your other work, like your superhero illustrations? I feel like there’s a distinctly rougher edge to the Hit pieces.

RS: There is definitely a rougher look to these covers. More bold strokes and dry brush techniques in the work to give a nod to the paperback covers of the period that I love so much. That is by design. As the story and period here are gritty, I wanted the covers to convey that grittiness too. I use a lot of textures in most of my work but it’s more reserved with superheroes because to me, the heroic cover needs a more fantastic and majestic feel that can be dulled by a lot of grit. But here you can get a lot more rough with the line and it only adds to the overall feel of the image.

 

Hit #3 cover final Ryan Sook boom studios
Final “Hit” #3 cover by Ryan Sook

 

Hit #3 is on sale now from finer comics shops and digitally from ComiXology. Here’s a preview:

 

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