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At Comic-Con International: San Diego, Print checked in with artists working in the Exhibit Hall all weekend. Print’s series “One Page,” which you can find in our magazine, features an artist describing one page they designed––whether it’s a cover or an interior.
Based in Los Angeles, Kassandra Heller paints for the Cartoon Network series Clarence and illustrates covers for the comics publisher Boom! Studios. Heller was sketching at the Boom! booth when we met. She described her thinking behind a variant cover for Clarence #1, a comic that ties in with the animated series about a fourth grader and his adventures.
How did you put this cover page together?
Heller: I was asked to do this cover by Boom! because Boom! and I have been close. I do covers for them every once in a while, and I used to work in-house for them as a designer, and while I was at at a Boom! I got a job as a background painter for Clarence, which was kind of my dream job. Then Boom! started doing Clarence comics, so, full circle, I had to do a cover for the first issue. I had an advantage because not many episodes had come out yet, so I felt like I could dive into a cover, and that’s why I put so many characters in it.
Heller: This is all done in Photoshop, and I used a lot of dry brush and chalk-type of brushes. To get this kind of look, I wanted Clarence to be the main feature of the cover, but there are so many great little things in the show that I wanted the fans to look at. I stuck pretty close to the colors of the show. This is Clarence and his mom and Joshua, and his two best friends Jeff and Sumo.
What’s it like to go from background painting to painting for comics?
Heller: When I color the show, it’s pretty straightforward to color. I don’t use any fun brushes; I just use a regular brush, and I try to make something be beautiful, but at the same time something that throws you in the world of Clarence. I don’t try to out stage Clarence or create something that distracts. Whereas illustration in comics, I get to be front and center, and I get to actually draw the characters.
Did you paint this cover digitally or by hand?
Heller: All digital painting. I took a lot of painting classes in college, and then I stopped painting. I just do digital paint, but I try to get that painterly look.
Why do you work exclusively with digital paint?
Heller: Control-Z, and paint is a commitment. You have to clean that stuff up. I have a really tiny apartment. So that’s probably the biggest advantage. If I had more space, then I’d probably try and paint by hand.
What are you working on now?
Heller: I just did a cover for Lumberjanes, which is this big comic under Boom!, a girl power-type comic. This is kind of my style, putting everything in one cover. I do a lot of gallery shows and usually it’s a tribute show to something [her recent one was anime from the 90s], and I just like to put everything in there.
If you’re interested in comic books, chances are you’ve heard the names Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. After all, their partnership paved the way for the Golden Age of comics beginning in the 1940s. With The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio by Mark Evanier, learn more about the duo who invented noteworthy characters like Captain America and Sandman, conceived the idea of romance comics, and created a new standard for the genres of crime, western, and horror comic books. Take a look inside the various aspects of their career, and see some of the works that defined them. Get it here.