Saturday 22 May 2010

Nikolai Dante - Covers be Damned Amazing!

Welcome to a bit of a special Covers Uncovered featuring three (or should that be five?) scorching covers by Simon Fraser, Nikolai Dante creator and all round superstar. Simon has been very generous with his time and effort in sending and annotating these images so I'd like to express my, and I'm sure many others', massive appreciation straight away!

As fans of 2000AD are all too painfuly aware, the Dante's saga is nearing it's conclusion and readers have been gripped as the death toll of the main cast rises. In this most recent arc, Simon has produced some of his most outstanding work to date, quite a bold statement for someone who's artwork is so popular among the fans!

Speaking about the series as a whole, Simon said "There was more discussion about the two Dante covers than usual. I did two initial sketches, Matt liked both of them with some caveats (more blood or foreboding in the romance cover.) Eventually, I changed my mind on both ideas."

Below are the pencils and roughs for the first of those abandoned ideas, the 'Romance' cover, with Dante and Jenna frolicking in the sea where Dante will eventually propose, lovely...
However, Simon had a change of heart, he says "I was discussing the 'romance' cover with my Intern Edwin Huang ( and we both agreed that some more explicit threat would help the cover, but we couldn't show anything without spoiling the story. So we came up with the symbolic hands emerging from the buildings while Dante & Jena danced oblivious to their peril. Edwin did the initial pencil layout...""Then I drew in the figures, inked the heck out of the buildings and went on to colour in Photoshop. We were all pretty happy with how that one worked out. Edwin is a very talented chap and is now drawing a series for Image Comics."Similarly, cover 2 underwent significant change. "I worked up an idea with a hand holding the ripped and damaged Crest aloft, I deliberately used a really screwed up old calligraphy nib to ink it, so it looked really scrappy and angry..." While I quite liked the result, Matt wasn't so keen and I went back to the original idea, which I think worked out for the best."

Pencils for the crest cover...
A colour test:

Inks...Voila, the finished piece...
Wow! After last Prog's shocking Dante climax, everyone's favourite Russian Rogue returns later in the year with the ominously titled 'City of the Damned', let's hope Dante fairs better than Dredd in this one!

As if wowing us with Nikolai wasn't enough, this month sees the serialisation of 'Lilly Mackenzie and the Mines of Charybdis' in the Magazine. Formally a web-comic on the fabulous Act-i-vate website, the story follows a half-Scottish, half-African space travelling babe across the galaxy with her faithful and somewhat besotted friend Cosmo. Simon has added some extras to really let the story breathe in the Megazine and I for one can't wait!

As well as being in the Meg, Lilly is on the Meg. Simon says "The Lily cover was fairly easy. Though I did have a lovely model called Mia pose for Lilly's posture. I used a photograph for the Earth seen from orbit, after messing around with various unsatisfactory painted versions. It turns out that all photos taken on the ISS are public domain. Which is nice!"

Again, thanks to Simon for sending all these wonderful images, he's a true comics evangelist! You can see all of Simon's Dante covers here and here and visit Simon's site and blog by clicking the links.

1 comment:

  1. All that talent and he still manages to masquerade as Hugh Dennis at parties!

    Nice bloke, top artist and clearly generous with his time and sketch book.

    Excellent entry Pete!