Line Wide Covers and Comic Shop Design

IGN has posted 40 variant covers for DC's upcoming Convergence event, each of which was put together by noted designer Chip Kidd. There's an interview, too, and Kidd mentions a few guiding principles-- the color blocks match up to the four color printing process and correspond to particular release weeks, the vintage art, a few other things. One of the more interesting choices he doesn't talk about is the way that the words relate to the pictures; the specific series title isn't always legible against the art, and the second half of the word "convergence" is always covered up, making the covers as a whole a little too dependent on iconographic recognition, in the first instance and prior knowledge, in the second. The burden for a new reader is a little high, for my taste, which means some of them fail as covers. On a purely visual level, some of them work better than others (the black works the best), at least on a computer screen. But, in general, I think they're pretty striking.



The last time I remember anyone doing any thing this design forward for a Big 2 comics was Rian Hughes's work on Iron Man: Disassembled. What's really different here is that Kidd's work for Convergence is line wide. If these were the main covers, the DC shelves at every comic book store in the country would be a sight for two whole months. That's the masterful bit of design here, that Kidd has designed the comics shop, as much as anything. It's a neat trick, and it points to something about the materiality of comics that we forget, that comics are things that we acquire and that the method of acquisition matters, at least a little. In terms of purchasing, if nothing else, I could see myself splurging on a couple of these, at least out of curiosity. It's a shame that the fact that they're variants means that they'll be hidden, and they're impact will be blunted. But maybe, just maybe, we'll see some more stuff like it in the future.


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