NEGATIVE SPACE #1 Cover Process

by ryankl

negative space 1 logoNEGATIVE SPACE is a creator owned miniseries with Owen Gieni published by Dark Horse and the #1 issue debuts in July.

You can preorder the book through your LCS right now, or whichever other channels you score your four colour funnies through. The preorder code is: MAY150012, and all the details are at this [LINK]

NEGATIVE SPACE is about Guy Harris, a depressed man who sits down to write his suicide note and gets writer’s block. He goes for a walk to clear his head and soon uncovers a century-old conspiracy dedicated to creating and mining the worst lows of human desperation. Think of a Philip K Dick book adapted to the screen by Polanski, with del Toro visuals and backed by a Hermann score. If that sounds like your jam then you’re gonna love this book at the same time as it kicks you in the nethers.

This book means a lot to the whole creative team so we knew we had to lead strong with a high quality cover that brought everyone in. As such, Owen, Daniel Chabon [our editor supreme], and I spitballed a lot in the discussion process and finally spiralled down into the sublime cover you see above.

I wanted to share some of this cover building process because I think it’s good process. We hope you dig.


Owen is amazing and starts with a wide variety of options. He said some of which were inspired by [LINK]. He thumbs them and sends them through.


I love Owen’s cover thumbs, the way he ties in colour quickly and loosely really builds the image for you to decide upon, and the variety he offers. He’s a man with ideas. He said #5 came to him in a dream.

So from this set of thumbs, we thought #1 and #2 looked best [though #3 is amazing and I kinda hope it resurfaces somewhere], so then Owen fleshes them out a little and we get these sketches, plus other thoughts.



^Super creepy, and sombre. I feel this underwater silence, this sense of being stared at, stared through. This is tonally perfect, if a touch subdued. We needed something just a bit more kinetically grabbing.



^We discussed the idea of doing split covers but thought it might end up more confusing than helpful. I dig the idea, because I like something different, but it wasn’t right for this book. Plus there’s the rub of finding decent logo placement on these things.


And I’m certain these same problems come from ^ this cover, but be damned if it isn’t still beautiful.


^Then Owen threw this in just to scare the crap out of us, I assume :] – dig that white empty around him. And those eyes. Damn.

And while we dug all these, our eyes instead came back towards the thumbs for the other cover idea:


^I like that this sketch got us to this background, but…


This thumb quickly became the real winner. Creepy, in your face, and those colours, even at a thumb, we knew Owen had something special. Daniel especially told us this was the golden egg, and be damned if he wasn’t right.


So then Owen scurries away and a day later has somehow sold his soul to produce these pencils.


Look at the level of detail on that. It’s absurd what Owen can do on the page. I also dig that separation of foreground/background by the level of intricacy. I remember it’s when this turned up that I really knew what I was in for. I’d seen some of Owen’s pages, and his character/cover sketches, but this was the moment I absolutely knew he was going to crush minds with his work here.

But this was all prelude until the actual cover dropped and we all slow clapped our screens [well, I can’t vouch for the others but I paused and tried to start a moment – I looked crazy]. But seriously, just look!


I spent a lot of time just staring at this and I came to the following thoughts:

Man, I couldn’t even think of this, no less script it, Owen deserves every $ on this gig.

Look at the guy in the opening of that building. Super creeper.

Look at the apex of the building – I often find myself wondering if that’s a real guy, a human, dragged down and mummified. What an end.

And look at the top of those columns – that’s gotta be Guy’s face, right?

H.R. Giger is a spirit guide to this book, for sure, del Toro, too.

Oh, look at those little fish swimming around down there.

And seriously, again, look at that detail. This right here is the image we needed to launch and lead a campaign. In Owen we trust.


To those preordering the book, thank you. Indie comics live and die on the vine based on preorders so you are making a huge difference in our lives. The publisher sets the print levels to match the preorders and change.

And to those who identify closely with the thought of depression or suicide, please HIT THIS LINK and see all the resources and places available to you. You are not alone. We are here to help you.