GU Comics Day: Putting On a Good Face

posted by Carol Burrell, Editorial Director, Graphic Universe

The ElseWhere Chronicles Book 2: The Shadow SpiesThe first three books in the nine-book series The ElseWhere Chronicles were published in English by Graphic Universe early this spring. The story, created by the team of Bannister and Nykko (warning: links en français!), was originally published in French by Dupuis. Along with the expected complications of translating the language and making sure the vernacular works for both a US and a UK readership, we also had to translate some images. We have to be especially careful if there are any hints of nudity, drinking, or, as in the case of this series, smoking, when one of our young heroes, Max, decides he’s going to try to light up a cigarette (and is promptly chastised by his friend Rebecca). In the English-language version, Max doesn’t actually light the thing, though he talks about it (and is promptly chastised by his friend Rebecca).

And then there were the covers. The cover of Book 2: The Shadow Spies (see above right) was terrific: a ruined city in another world, our heroes boldly looking out from a promontory, a dragon winging through the background.

But Book 1, the introduction for the whole series, was problematic. The original cover of the French-language edition is on the left, and the English-language edition is on the right.
cover comparison: The ElseWhere Chronicles Book 1

The diferences are pretty obvious. Conventional wisdom says the US market wouldn’t find the French cover compelling. First, it features a great big ol’ girl, which—according to conventional wisdom—will turn off boy readers (at least, until they’re ready for girls in bikinis lying on muscle cars, which I hear actually does attract male readers). Second, that cover is all about setting and mood and thought. The sun is turning the clouds to orange, hinting that stories (and troubles) begin after sundown. A patient examination will show that the library is that of an explorer, someone who has brought back home peculiar objects that may not be from any place on this earth. And, finally, a hand is reaching from the other side of the mirror—a barely seen being, reaching across to our world . . . spooky! The book promises a journey into Another Place.

For the US market, we asked the artist, Bannister, to rethink the cover in typical “American” style. He and colourist Corentin Jaffré came up with a breathless piece based on what happens next in that mysterious library. The US cover hits at a more visceral level: Monster! Danger! Action! Read me! It can make a quick impression in whatever nonosecond of time it has the attention of a potential reader.

The artist and author had themselves considered a more action-filled cover. Here is one of their ideas. It’s a shame not to use the same cover on both versions, considering the artist can go through several, many, or an enormous number of ideas to find the right one. . . .

As we move on to book 4 in this great series, once again we’re asking for a more “jazzed up” cover. This time, lucky for us, Bannister has already created one that works. Our slightly-older heroes are seen this time after they’ve passed through the mirror. They stand facing the barely-seen being on the other side, a chilling silhouette. Spooky. And promising an exciting journey into Another World.