Four Heroes collector covers. Five superstar artists. Meet the creators of this week’s "comic book" look.
Cover No. 1 (Kensei, Hiro, Ando): Jim Lee
"TV Guide is a cornerstone of pop culture, so doing a cover for you guys is a real honor," says Lee. Hey, we’re honored, too! A true comics legend, Lee is currently illustrating DC Comics’ All-Star Batman & Robin and drew the acclaimed Batman arc "Hush" (written by Heroes co-executive producer Jeph Loeb). He openly admits he does not follow Heroes, though he did try. "I downloaded the entire first season from iTunes to my Apple TV, which, for some reason, played the episodes backwards," Lee says. "So there I am watching the season finale thinking it’s the first episode of the series and I’m going, ‘Oh, my god, this storytelling is soo confusing and revolutionary — how does anyone get into this? People are getting killed left and right!’ Then I realized what I’d done." But, hey, this television thing ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. "An actor becomes immortal when he’s comic-book-ified," Lee says. "TV shows come and go but comics are treasured and vacuum-sealed and held on to by collectors forever."
Cover No. 2 (Matt, Nathan, Niki, Mohinder): Phil Jimenez
He’s drawn the X-Men and Wonder Woman, but they were no match for Ali Larter. "She’s a really beautiful woman without a specific defining feature to grab on to," Jimenez says. "She’s torturous for an artist — but in a good way." His work doesn’t stop with the line drawings. Jimenez, unlike a lot of comic-book artists, works closely with his colorist, in this case Dave Stewart. "There can be a big difference between comic-book color and true skin color, so it ups the pressure to get everything correct," he says. "For the TV Guide covers, we want immediate recognition. People should instantly say, ‘That’s Niki. That’s Matt.’ We want them to buy up these issues, not stand there scratching their heads." Jimenez can’t believe Heroes creator Tim Kring did not grow up a comics fan. "I don’t mean to call him a liar but I’m like, ‘Really, Tim, you never read this stuff?’ Somehow he’s created the ultimate hit show out of the comics form and he’s smarter than any of us who never believed it could happen."
Cover No. 3 (Peter, Claire, HRG, Elle): Michael Turner
"It’s so cool to see four artists who are so stylistically different: I love having my cover in between minimalist Tim Sale and Phil Jimenez, who puts lines everywhere," says Turner, who specializes in comics with curvaceous babes (Witchblade, Fathom, Supergirl). "For me, the hardest was drawing Peter because of his new Tom Cruise look. Last year, when he had those distinctive bangs, it would have been so much easier. I must have reworked his face a dozen times. But I also got lucky — I was assigned to the cheerleader!" Turner notes that distinctive star faces aren’t as common these days as they were in Hollywood’s golden era of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. "In TV casting there’s a certain look they want and you see it everywhere — there are, like, six actors who look just like that dude from Supernatural," he says. "That makes it tough when drawing comics — you usually try to find the weirdest, most extreme part of a face and exaggerate it."
Cover No. 4 (Maya, Sylar, Monica, Micah): Tim Sale
He’s revered worldwide for his hyperdramatic Isaac Mendez paintings on Heroes, but Sale faced a tough challenge for us. "All four of the TV Guide cover artists are comics guys and we agree that we suck at achieving true likenesses, so I felt really fortunate to get Sylar," Sale says. "Zach Quinto’s features are extreme — those huge eyebrows, the long face, the big, full lips. He’s made for the comics!" Sale estimates that 90 percent of his paintings for the series are copied from scenes already filmed. But occasionally, like Isaac himself, he must draw something before it happens. That was the case with HRG’s "death" painting. Either way, Sale insists on knowing as little about the plot as possible. "If I had my choice, I’d like to remain a fan and not have any spoilers," he says. "I’m always saying, ‘Look, tell me what you want from me but with as little scoop as possible — and stop messengering scripts to my door!’"
Dave Stewart brought the covers to life with his coloring work. He’s also the colorist for all of Tim Sale’s prop paintings on Heroes, as well as Sale’s arc on DC’s Superman Confidential. "Some artists are really hands-on, giving me a lot of comments about what they’re expecting, while others will turn over the line art and let me make the coloring decisions," Stewart explains. "There are so many stylistic differences between the TV Guide covers. Tim Sale puts a lot of information into his ink washes. Phil Jimenez is particularly good at capturing subtleties. Jim Lee’s take on Hiro is really cool, and so unlike Tim’s paintings of Hiro for the series." To unite the four covers, Stewart says he used "a watercolor background that bleeds from cover to cover, and also incorporated the show’s helix symbol into each one. If you line them all up, they will connect."
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