Powered by Translate
Stay in the Loop: (newsletter signup form)


An archive for interviews published both in print and on-line.

Moderators: Steve Hubbell, Mayhem, Moderators


Postby Steve Hubbell » Tue Aug 02, 2016 3:10 +0000

One Event, Two Perspectives....


In one of Comic-Con International 2014’s final programming showcases, legendary writer Mark Evanier hooked his iPad up to the AV system as he sat down to discuss the art of making cover images with a quintet of artists. On hand alongside Evanier were Amanda Connor ("Harley Quinn"), Fiona Staples ("Saga"), Mark Brooks ("Deadpool," "Avengers"), Jae Lee ("Batman/Superman") and Stan Sakai ("Usagi Yojimbo").

Evanier asked which comes first, the cover or the script. Staples said that the covers are done far in advance of the scripts and that she then chooses a character based image that is appropriate for the story in question.

Sakai had a similar perspective. He said, "It's done months before the interior. I hate doing covers, I hate it with a passion. I detest doing covers. I've been doing covers with the same character for thirty years. It's hard to come up with something new. I don't know why I'm on this panel. Sometimes my writer, which is me, has no idea what's going to be in the issue. They demand cover images up to nine months in advance. After thirty years of drawing the same character, it's difficult to think of another pose."

Evanier had chosen a series of covers the artists did in the past so they could each give a kind of director's commentary.


Sakai was last up, first looking at the cover to "Usagi Yojimbo" #46, which was originally "a commission piece to do a kite festival. We also did a poster of this and it was used as two consecutive double page covers. If you connect the pages it keeps going around and round in rotation. Tom Luth is my colorist of choice, and is Sergio's colorist. We've known Tom for 35 years now. Whenever I need a color job, I always ask Tom. I give him very little direction unless it's cultural. It's always much better than I would have envisioned."


For "Furrlough" #50, Sakai said he "doesn't like the coloring. I would have preferred more flat colors instead of so much shading. When I do these covers for another publisher, I'm on my own. I did 'Rocket Raccoon,' and I asked, 'Can I do a dinosaur?' And they said, 'Sure.' The only criticism was 'Make the gun bigger.'"


Looking at the cover of "The Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters Massacre the Japanese Invasion” #1, Sakai said, "This was strictly a job for the money." Evanier replied, "I worked for Eclipse, I don't recall any money."


The cover of "Usagi Yojimbo” #101 featured a riff on how skulls appear over the head of people who died, as noted by one fan. "I drew as many as possible," Sakai said of the image, "He didn't write in. There's no big logo on the cover, I like this. Usagi by this time is pretty iconic. Tom did an excellent job at this."


Finally, they looked at "Donald Duck Adventures" #32, and Sakai said, "I hate working for Disney. I had to draw his head so many times. My mistake was following the European Donald, which I really like. In this story, Donald and his nephews go to Japan. I'm not credited on the cover, it's an inside joke that I'm doing this for them."


Moderated by legend-in-his-own-time Mark Evanier, “Cover Story: The Art of the Cover” took five artists, gave them five of their own covers apiece, and had them talk about them. The covers had been chosen ahead of time, without the artists’ knowledge, and Mark hoped at least one of the choices would be a cover the artist didn’t like.

“Even if we take some potshots at your covers — it’s coming from a place of affection. Even Rembrandt had a worst painting.”


We’d be here forever long if we went cover-by-cover, so let’s just hit some highlights.

Stan Sakai

“I hate doing covers. I hate it with a passion. I have been doing covers with the same character for the past 30 years, so it’s difficult to think of a different situation for that character. The covers are done months ahead of time, and my writer, who is me, often has no idea what is going to happen in the interiors.”

Usagi Yojimbo #46. Dark Horse Comics. Art by Stan Sakai.
“This was a commission — a guy commissioned me to do a kite festival. So it was four connected pages. We used it for two consecutive covers. The colorist is Tom Bluth, who is my colorist of choice. In Tom’s case, it’s always — do what you want, Tom. I give him very little direction. I’m surprised sometimes by his choices, but it’s always better than I would color things.”

Usagi Yojimbo #101. Dark Horse Comics. Art by Stan Sakai.
“In Usagi, there’s always a little skull when somebody dies, and a guy always writes in saying how many skulls I had in that issue. So for this cover I drew as many skulls as I could. But then the guy didn’t write in, and I was disappointed. There was no logo, but Usagi is iconic now — when people see Usagi, they know it’s a Usagi cover.”

Adolescent Radioactive Blackbelt Hamsters #1. Eclipse. Art by Stan Sakai.
“Strictly a job for the money.”
“That’s funny,” Evanier added, “I worked for Eclipse — I don’t remember there being any money.”

Donald Duck Adventures #32. Walt Disney Publications. Art by Stan Sakai.
“Aw, I hate working for Disney. They kept saying ‘do it on model,’ but they didn’t give me any models! I must have drawn this duck’s head 7 times. The problem was, I was following the European design, which I prefer, and it’s a little different there.”

And in a comment to the Comicsbeat article....

Stan Sakai says
07/29/2014 at 4:11 pm

I apologize to the audience, other panelists, and the moderator. I was preoccupied as I had a family health crisis going on at that time, and kept checking my phone for updates. It was a fun panel and, no, I don’t hate drawing covers as much as I made it out to be.
User avatar
Steve Hubbell
Posts: 5824
Joined: Thu Sep 19, 2002 15:25 +0000
Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Return to The Stan Sakai Interviews

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest