Branch: Mint edition!
Given the generally positive feedback I received on the last issue’s cover this one follows on from its template in most regards; I’ve been trying to establishing a running style and the mix of noir shadowing with circuit patterning seems like a solid representation of Branch’s mood and themes.
While I want to create a sense of visual continuity between installments though I was also conscious here of the need to differentiate them in some fundamental way. One of my customers at the MCM Expo talked with me about how they often forgot which purchases of a series or a particular author’s work they’d made between conventions, consequently putting them off the follow ups. In recognition of this problem I completely overhauled the colour scheme for this issue, maintaining what I hope to be recognisable stylings in a radically different flavour.
The orange-reds off grey-blues in my last cover were meant to emphasise the clash between human and machine – while also being a complimentary arrangement to catch the eye – here I reprised the greens in an echo of Scratch and Curt’s initial meeting to continue enforcing a sense of queasy unease as things become progressively worse for our downtrodden delivery man. The formerly red title also felt a little too extreme against these colours so I changed it to cooler looking blue to create a stronger sense of cohesion in the design.
On the content: I’ve been getting some feedback from people eager to see action and indeed this issue will be trading much of the last one’s intrigue for more in the way of excitement. I never specifically intended Branch to be an action comic but Scratch is a character of few words prone to expressing herself physically rather than verbally – she’s not a murderer but she’ll quite happily resort to violence, making full use of her prosthetics and the advantages they allow.
Perhaps it sounds like I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but I’ve opted to loosely base Scratch’s fighting on kung-fu styles; I’ll save the exact details for another post, but along these lines I’ve been giving some thought to exactly how Scratch might fight. The idea of her being a trained thug of considerable self-confidence would suggest a refined level of skill – namely martial arts – and while I’m not planning to devote huge amounts of research to it (as fighting isn’t the story’s focus) I feel a reference model would lend greater credibility than clumsy abstractions. Besides the fact that Kung fu is the only martial art I have any hands on experience of, the directness of it strikes me as a good fit for a hyper efficient cyborg.
Hence the basis for the feisty pose. I toyed with the idea of her and Baby Face grappling as a cover image but felt compelled to include Curt given his role as co-protagonist and as a distinctly human counterbalance to Scratch’s OTT bravado. I want to avoid the heroic/badass stereotypes as much as possible and having Curt pathetically tailing Scratch with her coat hopefully takes the edge off the dramatic pose a little.
Anyhow that’s enough blabbing for now, I need to get back to work on what’s going inside this thing…