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Exclusive Look at The Tower Chronicles

Artist supreme Alex Ross shares his secrets for drawing superheroes.

There are two things you should know about Legendary Comics’ new The Tower Chronicles book. First, it’s a badass, violent story about a mercenary who hunts down all manner of supernatural evil. Second, the legendary Alex Ross painted the cover for issue number two. Ross is known for his realistic, museum-quality comic book art, and this cover is a prime example of his so-good-you-can-almost-smell-it style. How does he do it? We had the chance to ask the man himself. Here are his secrets for making draw-dropping covers.

New Characters Are Welcome
Alex Ross: I have loads of fun drawing new characters like this. I put years and years of work into drawing the older characters, so I’ve touched upon virtually every concept for those characters that I wanted to play with. Now the passion I have for characters like Superman and Spider-Man can move on to other creations, like The Tower Chronicles.

Not Everything is Planned
I always want the cover to pop with a certain kind of magic and symmetry. I won’t be certain of the color balance, and all the shadows and shading, until after it’s finished. A cover like this takes two days to complete.

Prying Open the Alex Ross Armory
I’m not much of a weapon guy, but these days I find myself working with more and more characters who use weaponry. I come more from the intellectual school of: Symbolic fists have great power as opposed to deadly weapons. This is all new territory for me and my career.

The Fabric of Our Lives
The attention to detail, especially with fabrics, comes from my research. I do a photo session for each painting I do, so I’ve collected so many different costumes and props over the years, and I’ve commissioned quite a few costumes for research. So for The Tower Chronicles, I could put on a hood and a bodysuit that extrapolates the textual configuration of the character design. The belts and whatnot can be made up later, but for the hood, finding the wrinkles, I can study the real object.

The Dark Night
Mostly I work at night, between 9 and 4. If I get a couple of hours of work done in the daytime that’s great, but I’m usually being pulled into phone calls and meetings. So the only time I can sit and work without interruption is at night, and it’s intensive work because the phone isn’t ringing and no one else is awake. It’s very vampiric. I’ve been living as a vampire for the past twenty years.

What’s in the Office
Top of the list of most unusual items on my desk is a statue based on a devil character by Dave Johnson. It’s a little smoking devil. I have a packet of flame photographs, that I’m sure most artist have. I’ve got a Green Hornet mask that I made out of paper, sitting on the corner of my desk. I just wore it for a photoshoot. It’s now completely trashed because of the amount of sweat that was pouring through it.
Toys Life
Standing near my TV I have the new Hot Toys 1/6th scale dolls of Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson as Batman and The Joker. I look at those everyday because I know they will eventually migrate to the room I have devoted to my collectibles, and I want them in front my face for as long as I can before I put them in the other room. If the toys in my home came to life like Toy Story they’d have quite an adventure.

The Tower Chronicles from Legendary Comics hits comic stands this September.

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