Jenny Frison: An Eye-Popping Cover Artist [Gallery]
March 7, 2016
IMAGE COMICS: Mike, what made Jenny the right person to provide covers for the full run of REVIVAL? How did you connect with her?
MIKE NORTON: She was a friend was pretty much the crux of it. The fact that she paints evocative and atmospheric covers helped greatly.
IC: What're your favorite covers that she's done so far?
MN: I end up changing my mind when a new one comes out. The issues from 37 up til now have been particularly dynamite. I'll say issue one's for simplicity's sake.
IC: More generally, how do you three plan and execute the covers? Jenny, do you get a script or sketches from Tim or Mike? How far ahead do you work?
MN: It changes per cover, but most of the time, Tim Seeley sends an idea of a plot, just a few sentences. Pretty much what a lot of cover artists work from. In the past we've had entire stories written, and that's easier. We've only really directed exactly what we wanted drawn on a few covers, those being issue one (which I drew a version of first) and issue 20 (The Jesus issue).
JENNY FRISON: The cover is the very first thing that gets done for each issue. It has to be done several months ahead of the issue so it can act as an advertisement in the solicitation catalogue that retailers order their comics from each month. That means that, unless a book is working many months ahead of schedule, there is very little to go off of. Tim and Mike know where the story is going but not necessarily which issue plot points occur in. So...I usually only have a few plot ideas to work with. A couple sentences, really. I would prefer an entire script, but...that's comics!
For each of my covers I draw the linework in graphite on white bristol. Then I print out the linework on grey rag paper and do all the rendering with graphite, marker, chalk pastel, and acrylic. Then I color digitally.
IC: First issue, first cover—how many drafts did you go through for this one? Was it always going to be a version of this image?
JF: Norton and Tim had an exact idea of what they wanted this cover to look like. In fact, Norton sketched out exactly what they wanted so it was pretty easy to nail down what they were looking for.
IC: This is one of several very spooky covers for the series. What went into planning this one? How did you know when you'd "made it"?
JN: I can't really remember how I came up with the idea for this cover, I just remember thinking a "first person" cover would look really cool and trying to sell Tim on the idea because it was hard getting the "strangling" aspect to be obvious enough. I did one really "interesting" photoshoot with my iPad to get the right angle. After that it was pretty easy!
IC: The hoodie design ended up being pretty iconic, and you use it almost as a design element here. Were you surprised by the reaction to it?
JF: I can't tell you how exciting it is to see people cosplay as Em. It's one of my favorite things about working on REVIVAL. But I think Tim and Norton designed the hoodie specifically to be something anyone could replicate. They wanted Em's "costume" to be a symbol for the book. Something fans could latch on to and create and have fun with.
IC: Most of the REVIVAL covers feel pretty realistic, but every once and a while you'll throw something more abstract or funny at us. Why'd you choose this approach for this cover, or the Japanese-inspired art style for the cover to REVIVAL #39?
JF: For issue 38, I was trying to convey the effects the events of Revival would have on Coop, and his break from reality as he tries to deal. Poor little dude.
For issue 39, Tim told me they were introducing a new character, an Amish samurai, and they wanted to feature her. We were going for something similar to old Japanese samurai prints, more of a mood than anything else. It was a fun change from our standard horror. (Which I love, too...but sometimes I enjoy a break from all the blood!)