The ‘Wayward’ Creative Team Take Us Behind the Scenes of their Ambitious Five Issue Panoramic Cover
Wayward, the Image ongoing series about a young girl discovering the supernatural underworld of modern-day Japan, kicks off its second arc today with issue #6. The cover for the issue is the first of five that link together to create a single extraordinary panoramic view of some of the series' characters and settings, transitioning from sunset in a junkyard to late night on the streets of Tokyo.
The interlinking covers are an impressive achievement, so to mark the start of the new arc --- and the release today of the first arc in trade paperback --- the creative team of writer Jim Zub, artist Steve Cummings, and colorist Tamra Bonvillain, take us behind the scenes of the creation of their panorama, from conception to completion!
As we were putting the finishing touches on the first arc of Wayward, we had to get rolling on covers for arc two. I was more than happy to follow the ‘central character and a nice backdrop’ look of our first arc, but Steve Cummings, my creative collaborator and our line artist, was on a creative roll and wanted to push things even further, so he suggested connecting covers for Wayward #6-10.
When an artist says they want to do an insane amount of extra work because they’re feeling inspired and it’ll look awesome, let me tell you, you let ‘em do it.
We had to finish the issue #6 cover for solicitation before I had nailed down how the arc would end, so we didn’t know who would be on the issue #10 cover and wouldn’t be able to finalize all five at once. That was tricky.
Steve sent over a rough for covers #6-9 and we chatted back and forth about what the focal point should be for each one and how the overall composition would look. Looking back at this rough I’m amazed at how much of it stayed intact through the whole process.
To save Steve time and keep our art budget under control, we don’t have a regular inker for the series. Steve draws up tight pencils and sends me high resolution scans, then I adjust the pencil scans in Photoshop, filling in large sections of blacks and touching up dirt/scuff marks or lighter areas where needed. The final look doesn’t have the absolute sharpness of true inking, but it works well for the style of the series.
Tamra Bonvillain, our courageous colorist, did a stellar job at completing this cover in sections for solicits while keeping the overall color transition and mood of the whole thing in mind. I can’t even imagine how difficult that must have been.
As Tamra finished coloring each section and sent it over to me, Steve would send over Japanese notations for the various signage and I dropped in the text for each one in Photoshop, adjusting the perspective, color, and texture of the text to merge it with Tamra’s colored version. There are 33 Japanese signs scattered throughout the five covers.
I wanted to make sure the final file was super high resolution in case we ever want to make a print/poster of the whole thing, so in Photoshop the final file measures 52 inches across by 17 inches high, 600 dots per inch. It’s a @#$%ing monster, but I’m thrilled with how it turned out.
This cover was drawn all together as one unit and the line art ended up being over four feet long. Logistically it quickly turned into a nightmare and was difficult to handle on my teeny tiny desk. My office here in Japan is what most people in America would call a medium sized closet, and my drawing surface is actually only two comic boards' worth of space. So this thing, while a whole lot of fun to work on, was a giant headache starting with the third cover and on.
But now, looking at the finished product, I am really happy with the way it turned out, and am half tempted to try this again one day.
This was a difficult one to approach. Normally, I would work on an image as a whole, but we had to get the first part of the cover out before Steve had finished the entire piece. We were also trying to show a transitioning time of day throughout the five covers. Without having all the art, I just made a very general plan on how to approach it overall. I made the sky the main link, going from bright afternoon/sunset through to the later evening sky in the last portion.
Logistically, it was super challenging, and the file sizes were much crazier than what I normally deal with. It was a lot of work to get that sorted out, but I'm really happy with what we ended up with, making the whole thing totally worth it.
If you want to get your own Wayward cover panorama, please pick up the regular ‘A’ covers for Wayward #6-10. Issue #6, the first part of our second story arc, arrives in stores March 25th, the same day as Wayward Vol. 1: String Theory, which collects our first five issues for only $9.99.