David Aja’s 5 Red Skull: Incarnate Cover Processes

Posted by Grey Sunday, July 10, 2011

Third Reich's very own answer to Captain America was the focus of a five-issue limited series published by Marvel this past Wednesday. We take a look at the stunning covers produced by artist David Aja and the thought processes behind them.

We have earlier seen the creation processes of the amazing covers produced by artist David Aja for 5 Ronin, a five-issue limited series written by writer Peter Milligan and a rotating cast of artists. In Red Skull: Incarnate, a new five-issue limited series laying out the horrific origins of Johann Schmidt before his tragic transformation into Red Skull, the evil face of Third Reich, Aja was once again approached to produce the covers of the series written by Greg Pak with art by Miko Colak and colors by June Chung. Similar to his earlier post where he charted out his creation processes behind the covers for 5 Ronins, Aja graciously put up the preliminary sketches for the covers as well as displaying some of the reference materials he drew inspiration from.

Without further ado, check out all five covers of the series, before taking a close look at the creation processes as well as some of the sketch art and reference materials Aja worked on.





Red Skull: Incarnate is a five-issue miniseries, written by Greg Pak with art by Miko Colak and colors by June Chung, out in July from Marvel.

Editor Alejandro Arbona asked me to do five covers including design and logo. It was not intended to be a typical super hero comics, so it shouldn't have anything like typical cover art.

The series is about how a young German boy turns into Red Skull, in a story that parallels the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in pre-war Germany, so I thought it would be a good idea to try to get that historical aspect on the covers. I tried to approach the artwork as if they were real posters, newspapers and Nazi propaganda from that time, kind of in a documentary style.

I did extensive research into historical documents for the styles. In order to make that work, I used different typographies each issue, emulating different typefaces in real work; so I needed a uniform tone, technique and color in the finished art to identify all the covers as a whole collection.
These are some of the tons of real posters and stuff I based my work in:


Quotes by Frederick the Great and Friedrich Nietzsche in covers #1 and #3 were actually used in nazi propaganda.
At last was decided not to show swastikas on covers, but we thought readers' brains would fill blanks on issue #2.
Thanks to editor Sebastian Giner for helping us with German on issue #4 cover.
Here are some of the sketches I did during the process:


Here's the official description for the series, courtesy of Marvel:

Marvel is pleased to present your first look at artist David Aja’s covers to RED SKULL! Before his first clash with Captain America, The Red Skull was the Third Reich’s own unholy super-soldier, the product of a warped training regimen designed by Hitler himself. From New York Times Best Selling writer Greg Pak (X-MEN: MAGNETO - TESTAMENT) and artist Mirko Colak (SECRET WARRIORS), chart the horrific ascent of Johann Schmidt from his days as starving urchin in the streets of pre-war Berlin to his transformation into the ultimate embodiment of evil.
“Due to the nature of the story, I wanted to portray the historical aspects on the covers,” said Aja. “In doing so, I approached the covers as if they were real posters, newspapers and Nazi propaganda from that time, kind of in a documentary style. To make it work, I utilized different typographic techniques for each issue, emulating different typefaces in real work; so I needed a uniform tone, technique and color in the finished art to identify all the covers as a whole collection.”
“RED SKULL was never intended to be one of our typical super hero comics, so it shouldn’t have anything like typical cover art,” said series editor Alejandro Arbona. “We knew David would invest the thoughtfulness and deliberation to capture the complex and difficult ideas of this story. In short, his covers say ‘This is what we’re doomed to watch Johann become,’ and his imagery – war, conquest, cruelty, a great evil – springs from the same tragic well. It’s a disturbing set of cover images, for a dark and disquieting story.”
Where do the true roots of the Skull’s depravity lie? Was this monster made – or born? And what did he sacrifice in his Faustian pact for power? Discover the definitive origin of the Marvel Universe’s greatest scourge for the very first time. This summer, prepare to confront the true face of The Red Skull!
RED SKULL #1 (of 5) (MAY110626)
Written by GREG PAK
Art by MIRKO COLAK
Cover by DAVID AJA
ON SALE THIS JULY!


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