So a few months back I was approached by the editors of a new book coming out from Oxford University Press called Classics and Comics about doing the cover. Classics and Comics will be an exploration of the influences, both subtle and less subtle, that classical literature and myth have had on comics, something that is pretty much the whole point of a series like Olympians.
We talked about a few cover design ideas, and I came up with the idea of paying homage to some classic comic book cover designs, but replacing the modern superheroes with their Olympian forebears. Here's a gallery of some of my sketches, as well as the images that inspired them. All of the original covers are, of course, trademark and copyright their respective owners.
First up we have the cover of Superman #1, which I was pretty excited for, as I'm both a huge Superman fan and the cover itself already has a fair amount of Grecian styling (the frame surrounding Supes, for instance).
I replaced Superman with Zeus for my cover idea, and Greeked up the city a bit beneath him. Looks like the oval frame surrounding Zeus is deflating, though-- must be all that electricity.
Up next, the immortal Jack Kirby's classic cover to Avengers # 4, the reintroduction of Captain America.
Here I replaced Cap and the Avengers with Athena leading an Olympian charge. If you look closely, you can see the pencil lines indicating where other cover elements would go. I'm kind of surprised looking at this now that I didn't put Poseidon in the little box that Namor the Sub-Mariner is in on the original cover. Lost opportunity.
Giant Size X-Men number one-- the issue that replaced the old order of X-Men with the new superstar team of Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler (and , sniff! Poor Thunderbird). I actually have attempted to use this cover as a base before, for my kids book Ker-Splash!, though after the publisher's sales dept. were done with it, it doesn't resemble its inspiration all that much anymore..
In my version, the old guard X-Men have been replaced by pre-Olympian deities like Kronos, a Cyclops and a Hekatonchieres (note that X-Men leader Cyclops is in the same spot as the mythological Cyclops. I'm a geek!). The all-New X-Men have been replaced by the Olympians.
I threw this one in as a lark, because I wasn't entirely sure this cover was iconic enough. It's been "homaged" like, a zillion times in comics, but I'm not sure it's old enough, has had the time to permeate the non-comics world as much as the other, much older comics have. A couple of my studiomates suggested doing this cover though, so I gave it a shot.
That being said, Justice League was one of my favorite books of all time, and it was seriously fun to draw this shot. My first feedback from the editors seemed to favor this one as well, so I was pretty pumped to try it. Ultimately, we went with a different design, one that was undoubtedly the best for the project, so I can't complain. I may do a finish of this one day just for my own amusement. Like with the X-Men cover, I tried to match some of the superheroes personalities with the god's who replaced them in my sketches-- that's why gloomy Hades become Batman, and trickster Hermes replaces the jokester Blue Beetle.
Which brings us to Action Comics # 1, the comic that started the whole superhero shebang. Probably the most iconic image of them all, and the first appearance of Superman.
My take replaces Supes with Heracles, on of Siegel and Shuster's inspirations for their character. The running thugs have become generic superpeople, scattering before the awesome might of the Glory of Hera.
This was the cover that won. Tune back later for a step-by-step look at the creation of the final piece.