SDCC 2011 Exclusive: Dave Gibbons, Becky Cloonan Cover PIGS
SDCC 2011: Gibbons, Cloonan on PIGS
With a writing team like Nate Cosby and Ben McCool, you're certain to have a comic book that features some… different ideas. Have them work on a book about culture clashes that turn into actual physical clashes, and you have crazy in a bottle.
Now, that bottle is being opened on an ongoing basis (a first for both writers), thanks to the success of the initial planned-as-a-mini-series run of Pigs. To celebrate the ongoing status, they've brought some big time friends into the fold, and we have the exclusive reveal of the covers by Dave Gibbons and Becky Cloonan. Cosby and McCool also gave us a little insight into the book, the cover artists, and what's to come when it moves forward over the coming months and even years!
CoverNewsarama: OK, Nate and Ben. Becky Cloonan and Dave Gibbons. That's hefty art talent of two generations. How did two schlubs er… fine young gentlemen like you manage to pull them in?
Nate Cosby: With Mr. Gibbons, I knew he followed me on Twitter (yeah, I don't know why either). I reached out, wrote 3 or 4 drafts of an email (IT'S DAVE FREAKING GIBBONS!!!!) asking if he had any time in his schedule to do a cover. I showed him the first issue and the other Pigs covers (Jock, Francesco Francavilla, Amanda Conner, Becky Cloonan, Humberto Ramos), and he said they motivated him. Then he said he'd be happy to do a cover. Then I did a little dance.
Ben McCool: A *little* one? I performed a full-blown ritualistic dance, prancing around like a right nutter. (And then it started to rain.) But yeah, we were kinda blown away by Dave's kindness, especially when we saw the amount of effort he'd put into the piece. It's an absolute beauty!
Nrama: Gibbons is known for his "Story" covers; meaning the covers themselves can be perceived as an integral part of the story. Is that the case in any way with his cover for you?
Cosby: I sent Dave a pdf of Pigs #1 and told him we wanted him to handle our first-ever cover featuring the entire Pigs team. Then we said it'd be great if he could incorporate some kind of American, Cuban, and/or Russian iconography. The rest was all Dave.
(By the way, when you send Dave Gibbons a copy of your work, he reads it & says he likes it? YOU ARE ALLOWED TO RUN AROUND YOUR HOUSE SCREAMING WITH JOY.)
McCool: Yeah, a group shot was definitely what we wanted; up until this issue, that isn't something we'd featured. And to have one courtesy of Dave Gibbons is indeed a spectacular result. It's very much his classic, unique style, but still captures the contemporary nature and look of the book.
Nrama: When you sign someone like Dave Gibbons or Becky Cloonan, both known for their layout and design work as much as their base "awesome art skills," how much freedom or direction do you give them on what you want for the cover?
Cosby: As much as humanly possible. You don't hire artists like these and then try to muck with their ideas or styles. Pigs is about clashing cultures and ideals (LITERALLY clashing), and we invite each artist to explore those different iconographies and differences in their own special way.
McCool: I've never been one to needlessly step on the toes of artists; unless something's really missing from a particular piece, or if something's in there that shouldn't be, I just let 'em roll. No such worries with any of the Pigs covers so far--they've ALL been spot on straight off the bat.
Nrama: Dave, what's your process like when creating a cover? Did the whole composition make it into an initial sketch, or did it just start with the line-up, just with Mt. Rushmore; what was the first step?
Dave Gibbions: Actually, my first rough didn't have the actual Rushmore heads in the background but I felt that the source of the pose was too obscure, so I added the background on the final art board and moved everything to fit. A rough is a good guide but I never feel constrained if I come up with an improvement.
Nrama: Now Pigs, some may not know, is an ongoing book. How far ahead are you planned on it, and now that it's actively moving, are you finding things more fluid than your original outlines?
CoverCosby: Yep, Pigs is monthly starting in September. We've got full beats done for the first 20 issues (5 arcs) and have laid down tracks for more. It's been really fun to get further down the road and find how naturally the story's flowing. These characters really write themselves; they're so conflicted. They're hurting innocent people because they've been told it's the right thing to do. That messes someone's head up, and we've been able to mine some really interesting stories from that thought process.
McCool: Having so much story stocked up and good to go feels great--it makes the scripting process so much easier. Though I always work from a pretty meticulous outline when scripting, Pigs is a whole different animal for me; I've never worked on an ongoing book before. But knowing what's going to happen to the characters way down the line (not to mention those around them) really helps us craft a vivid, believable world that'll shock and surprise readers to the core. Well, that's the plan, anyway!
Nrama: These are some great talents you're announcing attached to the front of your work here, but as always people want to know what's next… are you actively pursuing other A-list artists for cover work?
Cosby: We're looking for great artists on all the Pigs covers. We may have a "regular" cover artist down the line, but for the time being it's just about knowing what each issue's story is and deciding what cover artist would be the best fit. Pigs #6 cover is by Infinite Vacation artist Christian Ward and it's unbelievably nasty. Humberto Ramos' gorgeous cover is on #7, and we're just about ready to lock down #8's artist.
McCool: Yeah, Christian's cover is mental. Can't wait to get that one out there. And Humberto's is just plain brilliant!
Nrama: What's the most surprisingly fun thing so far about working together, each in your own extremely candid words?
Cosby: Just sitting in a bar coming up with stories. That's how Pigs started, that's how it still is. We're different guys, but you get us in a room together and apply beer, and we can come up with ridiculously bat-sh*t insane ideas. I want to make Ben's eyes get wide with an idea, and he wants me to drop my jaw after he's come up with something. Writing together's been a fun competition to out-crazy one another.
McCool: As I've said before, I'm astounded by how smooth the process has been. Having never even plotted a book with somebody before, let alone written one, I've found the creating of Pigs with Nate to be as easygoing as can be. We operate on a very similar wavelength, our ideas correspond extremely well, and the book's coming together in quite glorious fashion.