The cover for this chapter needed to sell the promise of action without giving a lot of details away. I also wanted to avoid making a huge amount of work for myself and not draw twenty people fighting each other. So the idea of showing a weakened Dr. Attic looking on while framed by shadows of the confrontation was easy to work out.
The crack in the wall was the final addition to the image. It felt like a great way of adding metaphor to the conflict (it splits the warring students down the battle line) and acting as subtle foreshadowing for multiple plot points.
The Catomix trade dress was reduced to the bare minimum a comic cover needs: the company name and the issue number. I’m a traditionalist. I prefer the classic boxes that contain all the issue info. But as I’ve been incrementally removing info from the boxes (there used to be a date of publication, and also a price–both of which are pointless on the internet) it seemed a modern minimalist approach was the better way to go.
It took a long time to land on the concept for this cover. I wanted to avoid spoiling plot details, so I knew it had to be another abstract image. Eventually I settled on a decaying painting. The exact reason for this will be explained in the commentary to the final page of this chapter.
The unraveling DNA strands not only fit the theme of the image, they’re a visual bookend for Phase Two as well. Chapter 5, which started the phase, had the only other cover thus far to include double helixes.
Coming up with the composition was difficult. There were some scenes in the story that could have been adapted directly into a cover, but doing so would have spoiled more than I would have liked. So this was a “scene that ties thematically to action in the book but doesn’t accurately depict it” sort of deal.
The turkey was a last-minute attempt to give the classroom some flavor. We’re in mid-November by this point in UTC.
This chapter was written by a friend of mine, Jeff Walter. I was so busy trying to finish Chapter 7 before Halloween that I didn’t have any time to develop a story for Chapter 8. Jeff had written some great stories with transformation themes, and so I asked him if he’d be interested in writing for UTC. He pitched me a few ideas, and one of them was about Keris. I didn’t have a lot of plans for her in Phase Two, but I came around to Jeff’s plan for her very easily. As he described it, all of the other characters from Phase One had gotten better development over the years, except for Keris, and she deserved some too.
When designing this cover, I took a look at the other covers in Phase Two and I brainstormed a composition and color scheme that would set this apart. The story is a little different from what we’ve had so far, and I wanted to apply those differences in a visual way. Case in point, the use of white negative space and pastel colors. I even changed the color of the Catomix box, which I hadn’t done before.
Of the 350+ comics I’ve made in my lifetime, I only copied the composition for a cover twice. The first was Unfamiliar Reflection #2K2. This is the second. It’s based upon the theatrical poster for the classic horror film “Them”. I even threw in some film poster dressings to complete the look.
I knew very early on in UTC’s development that I wanted to have a good Halloween story. This story was, in fact, brainstormed way back while I was drawing Chapters 1 and 2 in 2007. From Chapter 8 onward, the plots for the series are “fresher,” being brainstormed no earlier than 2012.