Recently I was asked to contribute the massive slew of variant covers for Dark Knight 3: The Master Race by Frank Miller, Brian Azarello and Andy Kubert. Of course, I said “YES”! The three images from the original series that stuck with me throughout the years was the Batman/Joker fight in the tunnel of love, Batman riding the black stallion and Superman getting fried by the lightning strike. I abandoned the Superman Idea from the get go because I wasn’t going to take the cover opportunity of a lifetime and draw a shriveled up Superman on it.
I did come up with a few cover roughs to give my editors a choice. My heart was only really in the horse version and the Joker version, the others were just filling space. Eventually the editors chose the horse version, mainly because at the time, everyone wanted to do the Joker and no one had opted for the horse scene. That changed as more artists came on board and contributed.
Let’s take a look at the process. Here are my cover roughs I sent to DC.
As I already mentioned, the editors chose the horse version with the caveat that I flip the scene so that Batman was facing the other direction. The one I turned in was too close to what Frank Miller had originally done in The Dark Knight Returns and they wanted everyone to do their own take on a scene, not just recreate what Miller had already done.
So I flipped the image and did another rough.
This one was approved so I began the process of completing a finished full-size pencil drawing.
I didn’t like the position of the horses’ neck on this one so I light-tabled the image on to another piece of paper and changed the head. I also thought Batman was a little small so I made him a little bigger.
I still wasn’t happy with this so I did a third version.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! After the long drawn out process of getting the pencil just right I was finally able to move on to inking. I used almost entirely brush on this with only a little pen work on the straight edges and smaller stuff.
I scanned the image at about 1500 dpi as a bit map and then started coloring in photoshop. My wife, Shelley, was good enough to flat this for me so I could work on Power Cubed and then I went in and did the finished coloring. I wanted to keep it simple to better reflect the approach that Lynn Varley used on the original story.
And there you have it. One of my favorite covers I have done for DC to date. This variant cover edition of DK3 is available exclusively through www.vaultcollectibles.com