The Journey behind my Covers for Regal Comics
Back in 1997, in the 4th standard of my junior school, my 9 year old self confidently filled in one of our class activity worksheets that I would make comic books when I grew up. The naivety of childhood!
Issue #9 Final Cover
January 2021 - I was given the opportunity to illustrate a cover for Regal Comics' ongoing full colour, English, 'The Phantom' comic book series.
It was a nerve wracking experience and after multiple iterations, editorial push & pulls I managed to get the cover approved. It was published on March 2021 as the cover of Issue #9. Fortunately it was well received by my editors & the readers.
I was aware that Regal were planning to commemorate the 110th Birth Anniversary of Lee Falk in their April issues & pitched my idea for a cover that I felt would be very unique but fitting.
Their response, contrary to my expectations, was very positive.
The beginning of the Lee Falk tribute cover
My idea was to project Lee Falk as a central multiversal god-like figure, conjuring 'mini globes' containing all the different Phantoms featured across different media - newspaper strips, animation, live action throughout the years.
I also decided that the featured Phantoms would be only limited to Lee Falk's lifetime - so anything created post the 1999 death of Falk would not be featured.
I scribbled a rough layout of the placements on my sketchpad and then got on to work on my friend's iPad Pro. I used the app, 'Procreate' for the whole process.
It was evident to me quite early that I couldn't do too many 'globes' as Regal would need ample space to add the story names and other texts or logos that they usually put on each of their covers.
I started with a quick sketch of Lee Falk's face, using a reference pic of him at the 1996 The Phantom Live Action film set, a pair of posed palms & some empty circles of different sizes. It led me to conclude three points:
Circles shouldn't be cropped.
The optimum number of circles of varying sizes that I could accommodate without making the art look too cluttered was nine.
The minimum size that a circle could be to keeping the art visible and be a good fit.
The most important decision was choosing which nine Phantoms to include.
One of my reasons to pitch for a cover like this was to have the opportunity to draw, mimicking the style of each legendary artist who worked on the strip. Which would help me analyse & learn from their work thus helping to enhance my own skills. Those Phantoms which did come from a non strip background however, I had to draw in my own way to best represent the look of their respective source material.
The nine Phantoms I chose were:
Sy Barry's Phantom
Wilson McCoy's Phantom
Defenders of the Earth Phantom
Ray Moore's Phantom
George Wilson's Phantom
Fred Frederick's Phantom
George Olesen's Phantom
Billy Zane's Portrayal of the Phantom
Now I will go into each image I chose for these nine different style of Phantoms.
Sy Barry's Phantom
This one was a no brainer & a very obvious choice. Is there a more iconic, popular & timeless rendition of The Phantom than Sy Barry's?
No. Hence I chose to draw him in the largest and center most circle. Barry's image of The Phantom riding Hero is probably one of his most recognised ones. I used my Hermes Press 'The Complete King Years' cover as the reference to recreate this iconic image.
Throughout the process I marveled at the sheer line control Sy had. It took me quite a long time to get the sketch to a stage where I was satisfied.