IMAGE COMICS: A cover for an art book almost has to serve as a definitive statement on your art in addition to drawing readers in. What was in your head while you were planning this cover?
RAHSAN EKEDAL: I could have repurposed existing art and gone through old works to find something suitable, but that didn't really feel right. Instead, I wanted to create something original so that this book would be special and feel like an artifact all on its own, something that feels worth putting on your shelf. I started sketching intuitively, with just a general idea of the composition, following my instincts, and just playing with all of the characters I've loved over the years, and it turned out to be some of the most pure fun I've had with any cover.
It was especially interesting to revisit Brian and Detective Neville from ECHOES, in the center of the cover near the binding. I haven't drawn either of them in five or six years, I'd guess. I thought about having Brian holding one of the trophy dolls as well, but then I thought that his medication watch was a more sophisticated touch. It's a creepy little interlude among all the good looking stars of THINK TANK and THE TITHE.
IC: Mirra Sway is an interesting character. How did you want her design to feel to the reader?
EKEDAL: Mirra is young and smart and can totally kick your ass. Her design has evolved subtly over the years that I've been drawing THINK TANK, and in this latest series I feel that I've finally perfected it. I always want to convey a sense of inner strength when I draw Mirra, her strength as a CIA operative, as a woman, as a person of color, as a fortress in a dangerous world. She's strong, but lonely. And she's very direct. She's a truth-teller. So everything about her design is meant to convey these things directly or by implication. I always choose fashion for her that is practical and tough, never too revealing, and of course her famous haircut is a constant statement of her fierce independence and pride.
EKEDAL: I don't have a lot of time for personal work, unfortunately. But I try to fit it in as often as I can. When I do, I like to work on something very different from my usual stuff. So, I cartoon, or I sketch from life, or I go loose and have fun, like this.
It's an interesting one because it's an impression or a memory rather than a life drawing. In other situations, I might have sketched Shannon on the spot with pencil and pen in a sketchbook, but in this case we had been out one night with other ex-pat friends here in Berlin. The next morning, the image of her—in all black, bright blonde hair, looking over her shoulder at me—was still impressed on my mind, so I sat down at the computer and sketched it out digitally.
To keep it loose, I started to lay in the color before I had finalized the line. So, in certain ways, despite being all digital, the technique is more like a pastel drawing. It's a nice, spontaneous way to work and now I'm interested in doing a book like this.
THE ART OF RAHSAN EKEDAL is available now.