Cover Design Is a Sales Tool, Not an Artistic Expression

Comic cover design tips

Brian Hibbs’ latest Tilting at Windmills column points out some basics of the comic business: given the types of shelving most retailers use, your book needs to be identifiable from the top left corner. I’ve copied here the image he uses — one common type of shelving only shows the red and blue areas, the other the red and green, but the brown area is rare to be on display for every title.

Designers who consider the comic cover as an art piece aren’t keeping in mind that it also needs to work to sell the book. There are case studies, such as one new Boom! title that breaks the rules and, as a result, sold only 10% of orders in Hibbs’ store. Go read the full column for the complete analysis.

At Hibbs’ website, there’s a smart comment from another retailer who provides some additional examples and notes, “Every time someone picks up a new release comic and asks, ‘Do I have this one already?’ the cover design has failed.”

2 Responses to “Cover Design Is a Sales Tool, Not an Artistic Expression”

  1. Sol Says:

    I remember one of my friends complaining that he could never tell if he’d already read an issue of Sandman by looking at the cover. (Mind you, he was the one who originally turned me on to that comic, back in those pre-Internet, pre-Vertigo days when a comics lover who’d read Watchman and all sorts of indy books could manage to have not heard of Sandman in its first two years of publication.)

  2. Eric Says:

    Of all the comic books stores I’ve been to (which is a lot) my favorite for buying new comics is The Comic Stop in Lynnwood, WA, because they have the room to display every new comic in such a way that you can see the entire cover.

    The type of shelving that shows only the red area would seriously discourage me from buying new comics.




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