The Cover – Madison Hawthorne

The phrase “Art is all around us” is true. It is no more apparent than in the cover. Design. Everything has a cover from movie boxes to board games. Companies spend millions of dollars each year paying both digital and traditional artists to create designs for them. They spend this money because the cover is the first thing you see and thus the first thing you judge when looking at and making an assessment about something. In comics this is no different.

In comics there are many ideas as to what makes a good cover but I find that the best covers reflect what happens inside of the comic. With a cover you can give an introduction to characters you will meet in the book as well as insight into the plot without having to read a thing. Often knowing where your comic is to be displayed is important in your design, especially the background. Generally light colored backgrounds are the norm because the are eye-catching. However, often if a cover designer knows his comic will be placed with a lot of light colored books they will use a dark background so as to stand out against that. In my own comic I try and take this approach as well. Take a look at some of the different designs for covers. Can you tell what might happen? And who the characters will be inside the book?

Madison Hawthorne King of Sweden Cover

Madison Hawthorne is a comic enthusiast and writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. Madison’s comic “King of Sweden” is available at

Comic Toning vs. Shading – Madison Hawthorne

Hello all sorry for the delay I had some computers issues.

I went to Dragon-Con, unfortunately I do not have any pictures to show from the art gallery as they were not allowed. However, I was able to sit down and talk with comic artist Dusty Higgins, the artist of Pinocchio Vampire Slayer and Knights of the Living Dead. One of the things that we talked about was the digital art medium as Knights of the Living Dead was his first comic that he had done completely digitally without inking or sketching on paper first.

We spoke specifically on whether to screen tone or shade when doing black and white comics. With Pinocchio Vampire Slayer Dusty used screen tones and with Knights of the Living Dead he used shading. If you are not familiar with “screen tones” it is a tool used on art programs that makes shading quicker and easier by creating a large blanket of dots or cross hatched lines. This produces the desired shading effect without having to actually color and shade each page. Many artists will use this to reduce cost for black and white pages. Because shading a black and white page often takes the same time as using full colors which many artists charge a different rate for.

Often screen tones work fine especially when high quality printing is done, but sometimes they can leave a little to be desired. In general I feel the toning style does not matter if the story is great and the rest of the art is clean. Here are some examples of screen tones vs shading in black in white, which do you prefer?

Comic Toning

Comic Shading

Also you can check out Dusty’s work at

Madison Hawthorne is a comic enthusiast and writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. Madison’s comic “King of Sweden” is available at