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The Making Of Dave Johnson’s Cover For ‘Shadowman’ #4 [Artist Commentary]

Simply put, Dave Johnson is one of the best cover artists in comics. His celebrated covers for 100 Bullets, PunisherMAX, B.P.R.D., and many more critically acclaimed series are some of the most highly respected in the industry, among both fans and his peers. Johnson’s knowledge of, and passion for, his craft is well known, as he is sometimes prone to discuss both his covers and the cover work of other artists on his blog and in his Twitter feed, sharing his view of their aesthetic value.

As such, we decided to reach out to Johnson about discussing his process for one of his upcoming covers. With help from the folks at Valiant Entertainment, ComicsAlliance is debuting Johnson’s variant cover for Shadowman #4, along with four pieces of art chronicling his work on the cover from sketch to final, with commentary on each stage of the process from Johnson himself.

Johnsons commentary, in italics, follows each piece below.

[Click images to enlarge]


The first cover sketch was based on the description I received from my editor. Shadowman messes up Mister Twist. He might have used more colorful language but I’m going to keep it PG. The first idea that popped up in my head was a Clash of the Titans kind of moment with our hero holding the head up in triumph. Drew it, sent it off, then it was approved. YES!

Then, I realized it could be better. The pose needed a lot of help, plus I realized the with his arm up, his logo on his breast would be hard to read. So I flipped the design for the final. I used to pencil everything super tight in this stage before I bring it over to the lightbox to start tracing it to the final board, but I started to feel like I was doing the same job twice.


Now comes the inks. I’m getting to the point were I’m basically inking blind. By that I mean most of the rendering isn’t figured out in the pencil stage. I just go with what I have in my head. Sometimes I screw up, but most of the time I’m happy with the outcome.

And finally, the color. Thought I’d go with a weird color instead of blood. You still get the idea that it’s a blood bath, but it becomes more interesting this way. Maybe I’m wrong. And if I am, I’ll try to do better on the next one. It’s just comics people. Enjoy the show.

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