I’ve given some thought on how to approach covers for comics. Some people complain when they get a book and what’s happening on the cover never happens within the story.

I think there may be some validity to that sometimes, but not always. Covers would be pretty boring as a whole if they were limited to literally portraying a scene.

My personal guidelines are:

  1. The cover needs to persuade someone to pick up the issue. This is the bare minimum job of a cover. The caveat is that if story inside must deliver something that satisfies the curiosity. If someone picks up a book, buys it, but the story/art inside is sub-par, then the reader essentially fell for click-bait.
  2. The cover should convey the feel/theme/general gist of the story inside. In the cover for William the Last above, the situation never literally happens. But the two characters are constantly evading guards while trying to make their escape. The image above represents their fear of what might happen.
  3. The cover shouldn’t spoil anything in the story. Like a movie trailer that gives away a plot point and ruins the movie, a cover should never do the same for the story. If you’re going for something that happens in the story for the cover, then don’t give away things that should only be discovered by reading the actual story.

Now go make an awesome cover.

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