Superhero sendoff: Our Stanley Cup champs, concept to cover

RICHMOND, Va. — I couldn't even tell you exactly when the idea for the Penguins/DK Comics Presents covers struck me. As the playoffs were beginning, I knew that I wanted to do something, but I wanted it to be something new. Figuring you can never go wrong with superheroes, I quickly sketched out some character designs of what a 'Blue Jacket' or 'Penguin' might look like.

It was a little challenging, as neither name is particularly imposing, but I figured I'd be able to make it work. I penciled some final drawings, inked them up and scanned them before jumping in the car with my two kids for a spring break trip to Ohio to visit my mom and siblings:

Sitting in my childhood room a couple days later, I colored up the 'Penguin' and the 'Blue Jacket' digitally, but I found the final product a little underwhelming. Just characters on a white background. Frankly, boring, and not worthy of the site. They needed something more.

Maybe it was the inspiration of the setting, but I figured having them face off on a faux comic book cover would be just the thing. Usually I opt for a 50s-60s-era vibe with such things, but for this, I knew that a riff on the 1980s Superman team-up title DC COMICS PRESENTS would work perfectly ... right down to the altered DC bullet that could feature instead the initials or our esteemed leader.

I stitched it all together, trying to get all the little details like lettering and era-specific verbiage correct. And at the last minute, I added that little "No. 1 (of 4)" to the price/issue number box. I figured it would be a jinx, but at least it would be a confident jinx. At any rate, I never expected that there would actually be four covers:

But, the 'brutal border battle' never materialized, and the Penguins dispatched the Jackets rather easily.

I knew there was a chance the next cover might well be the last, so I made sure to sneak in a knock on the Presidents' Trophy with issue No. 2:

Then, amazement abounded as the Penguins advanced yet again, setting up an Eastern Conference final with ... the Senators?

This was an especially difficult one, because as non-threatening as a penguin might sound, a senator is even less imposing...and though I tried my best, I just couldn't think of a way to make a woman in a long black robe and goofy collar swinging a giant gavel look anything less than completely ridiculous:

So, I defaulted to the official logo, whatever it is supposed to represent. I kept the giant gavel, though.

For the Stanley Cup Final, I toyed with a couple other ideas, but in the end, went with a Tigra/Cheetah/Sabretooth kind of hybrid. Obvious, I know ... but time is always short with such things, as the opponent is often a mystery until a couple days before the art comes due:

I still think, conceptually, that the Cup in the background between the two combatants might be the strongest composition of the lot!

So, that's the story with these goofy, quirky Stanley Cup covers! I've included a bunch of my sketch pages here, including the initial drawing of the Penguin and all the other characters. I had a great time making them, so much so that I wish I'd had the time and opportunity to do a few actual panels for each issue! Maybe next year. At any rate, I hope you enjoyed them, too!



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