The cover is almost never ever the first one you draw. In creating the cover for NICO BRAVO AND THE HOUND OF HADES, I worked with the incredibly talented Andrew Arnold at First Second Books. Andrew is a cartoonist himself, a published author, designer, and art director, and an alumni of the Center for Cartoon Studies.
We kicked sketches and scribbles back-and-forth, guided by Andrew’s expert eye. I thought were were almost there when I heard a talk by another gifted designer, Colleen Venables, who noted that many people will first see your cover online at postage stamp-size, and it must work at that scale.
That inspired me to change directions, and helped us arrive at the final art. You can also see the title of the book change somewhere in the middle of the process, thanks to some clear thinking on the part of a few folks. So, a lot of sketches, some patience, and some great advice are essential parts of the recipe. Here are a few of the roughs we made to get us there, plus the final version: