Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rejected cover for Hulk #362

Back in the late 80's I tried to pare down my "style" and did away with most of the rendering. I was hoping that the self-imposed limitation would force me to focus more on the important elements like structure, gesture and storytelling. I'm not the first artist who tried to hide bad drawing with fancy rendering and I probably won't be the last.

Someone at Marvel asked me to draw this Hulk cover. Two monsters, fighting in a desert... why not? It sounds like fun.

How was it received? A friend of mine who was in the Bullpen when the art arrived told me that Marvel's art director, John Romita (Senior) held it up and proclaimed, "This... is what is wrong with comics today!" True story.

The Hulk editor called me up and politely explained that the art was being rejected. I asked if the lack of rendering was the only problem and he said it was. So I redrew it with heavier shadows and some fancy rendering and everyone was happy.

The first version is fine but I have to admit, the second one is better. Especially when you see it with color. Marvel let me do the color guide so I was able to sculpt the shapes with flat, white highlights. The poses are awkward but I like the overall effect.

And John Romita was right.


  1. i kind of like the first one, it has that kind of animated style line a la Timm etc.Nowadays lots of art seems very open and bereft of lines,relying on the colourist a lot more..

  2. I dunno if Romita was right. He may have had a preference for one style over the other but was well-thought-out, pared-down-to-the-essentials artwork really what was wrong with comic art in the 80s?
    I didn't thinks so...

  3. I'd have to go with the second one too. The blacks created by the low light source give the image the zing the first one is maybe missing. I still remember seeing this cover at the local corner store and thinking how awesome it was, it's tucked away somewhere in one of my long boxes... :)

  4. Wow, Kevin, both of these or just AMAZING!!!! The first one has such raw energy... so striking. I can't tell you how much better this post made me feel, though. A few pros have said that my work is what is wrong with comics today as well. If YOU of all people have heard it (and I can't imagine it even being possible given your amazing work from day 1) then maybe I'll be OK too. Personally speaking, you have been one of my biggest inspirations in this medium, and if you're work is what is 'wrong' with it, I don't want what is 'right'.

  5. Thanks, Lee!

    I appreciate all the kind words and I'm very flattered that you consider my work an inspiration.

    The rest of you should check out Lee's amazing work in Wednesday Comics. His Superman feature beautifully drawn.

  6. Kevin,

    To be honest, I probably would have gone with the second one back then. But then I would have gotten any Kevin Nowlan cover back then. I think in the 80's and 90's there was more of an affinity to detail and such, where as the first one might work better these days. I think that's mostly because of technology and what you can do now with photoshop.

    But I can relate too, now, wondering how much detail and rendering should I do in the pencilling stage. I still think I should bump it up some. But yours works either way!

    Same here as Lee with you being a big inspiration to me thru the years. I still have a Dr. Strange Litho that I have on my wall that I'm staring at right now!

  7. He�s Romita Senior, and Im just a geek who tries to draw comics. But no, I don�t think he was right. What if he sees "Hulk vs. The Rain" by Kochalka?? Is the best Hulk story I�ve read since Mr. Fixit and it�s definetelly part of "the problem".

  8. I always loved that cover! I agree with many comments here, the first piece would be more accepted now. But man, that cover is all kinds of awesome. My affinity may have something to do with the subject, the Hulk as prey is a great idea.