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Island: Uncovering The Future [Gallery]

ISLAND is a comics anthology/magazine spearheaded by Brandon Graham (MULTIPLE WARHEADS, PROPHET) and Emma Ríos (PRETTY DEADLY, MIRROR) meant to illustrate the depth and breadth of what comics are capable of. Rather than being grouped by genre or approach, these comics are about creativity first and foremost—comics storytelling as delivered straight from the artist's mind. Comics are capable of being whatever we want them to be, and ISLAND gives us a peek at their always-increasing potential.

As striking as the stories are, the covers are pretty cool, too. We spoke to several of the cover artists for the book about their approach to expressing what they felt about the series, and they were kind enough to send along a look at how they created the covers.

 

 

ISLAND #1: Brandon Graham

 

 

IMAGE COMICS: What was most important in your mind when creating this cover? 

BRANDON GRAHAM: I was aiming to make an image that conveyed my hopes for what ISLAND could be.
 
My main worry was that it wouldn't have enough going on in it. I ended up drawing the front cover much larger than the standard 11 by 17 I normally work at—maybe twice the size. Later I drew the back cover at a smaller size. In drawing it, I kept looking over the work of some of the artists who were doing work in ISLAND and thinking of parts of the Island where their work might fit. 

IC: What did you want to express or show off to the reader?

BG: I was looking at comics magazines covers from the past and thinking about what the covers said about the content. 

I really wanted to give the idea of a place brimming with ideas and stories, that not only had a future but a history behind it, with the undersea ruins and wreckage. To show its place in the past and future of the artform we're working in.

 

ISLAND #2: Emma Ríos

 

IC: What was most important in your mind when creating this cover? 

EMMA RÍOS: Brandon's cover was so beautiful and detailed that I considered the possibility of following up with some kind of exquisite corpse. I chose the mermaids.

IC: What did you want to express or show off to the reader?

ER: I've been pretty obsessed with women monsters and with the idea of identity and its perception through physical appearance for quite a while. So, I turned the beautiful ladies into some kind of scary reproductive island generators to show that things don't always have to work as you imagine them under the surface.

 

ISLAND #4: Gael Bertrand

 

 

IC: What was most important in your mind when creating this cover? 

GAEL BERTRAND: I tried to come up with visuals that would stand out on the shelves.

As with any other images I worked on, I was aiming for appeal and readability.

IC: What did you want to express or show off to the reader?

GB: Given the total freedom I had with it, I first tried to explore the various themes attached to the idea of an island: adventure, mystery, exploration of the environment, isolation, the hopes and dreams of faraway lands... 

But today, the iconography attached to the "islands" of the stories I grew up with (alien lands, distant planets, etc.), seems to me too rooted in concepts of infinite expansion and blind domination of man over its environment to be relevant any longer.

Overpopulation, pollution, and global warming are like shadows over the dream of the New Frontier. The promise of freedom and progress that the West once symbolized evolved into a business of escapism; and even if, judging by this past year's success of The Martian for example, this story is still something that resonates with people, I chose to portray the iconic spaceman as a corpse that our future stories of survival will probably have to get built on.

 

ISLAND #5: Amy Clare

 

IC: What was most important in your mind when creating this cover? 

AMY CLARE: The ISLAND #5 cover was sort of offshoot of what I've been doing with the series I've been doing in ISLAND, where we follow very small-time characters through a huge and oppressive city. I wanted to see something that I was really into out on the shelves because I have a difficult time finding comics and art that I can connect with or want to put up on my wall, so usually when I draw something, I'm like, "There, there's something for me, and if other people have the same interests as me, that's awesome." I'm more comfortable making most of my drawings up as I go along, so there wasn't a whole lot of preliminary sketching, and the back cover is a bunch of nail polish swatches I did in my sketchbook to test out how they layered—I though it looked cool next to the illustration.

IC: What did you want to express or show off to the reader?

AC: I think for me, my interest in survival stories (especially ones that take place within a city environment) often manifests as tough-girl gangs who still retain a lot of the glittery unashamed fashion sense that I like. Like, girls hanging plastic keychains off their katanas and putting stickers on their motorcycles and stuff. It feels trite to say it, but I still get amped up when I see girl characters killing it, especially when they're not drawn or represented in the same old formulaic hot-and-strong-female way. Also, I wanted to show off my cat, because he is very handsome.

 

ISLAND #6: Onta

 

IC: What was most important in your mind when creating this cover? 

ONTA: I worked closely with Brandon for this cover. He initially referenced some old compilation covers of shonen comics (Dragon Ball Z, etc...). I wanted to do something more dynamic, but he felt the relaxed, slice-of-life tone of my comic entry deserved something diferent.

IC: What did you want to express or show off to the reader?

ONTA: I felt that I had to show furry in a way that was somewhat appealing while still being considerate of the source material. I didn't want to pull any punches due to furry still being a dirty word—though somewhat less so due to Disney's movies coming out. I wanted to show some interaction without being too icky about it.

I will say that after seeing the previous covers, I did feel I was was a bit of the odd man out by putting a strong focus on up-close characters. I feel the concept of isolation was maybe captured to a lesser extent visually, but I did attempt to have them grouped in a way that still expressed similar concepts other covers have shown.

I was initially going to rework the pages but Brandon and someone else said they liked it, so I felt I should keep it as it is.

 

ISLAND #7: Malachi Ward & Matt Sheean

 

IC: What was most important in your mind when creating this cover?

MALACHI WARD: Initially Matt and I were just searching for a striking image. We settled on an idea that's a riff on Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man, which seemed fitting for the diversity of work featured in ISLAND. 

IC: What did you want to express or show off to the reader?

MW: It was important to us to hit the reader quickly, then depict a narrative vastness in the cover image, something that would draw a viewer in and invite inspection.

ISLAND #1-5 are on sale now. ISLAND #6 arrives 1/26, and ISLAND #7 arrives 2/16.