This month, Court of the Dead fans will have three new books to bring them even closer to the Underworld.
The Alltaker himself makes an appearance in the exclusive content at the beginning and end of the Court of the Dead Deluxe Hardcover Journal. He explains the power and importance of memories, and implores you to share yours with him through the 192 blank pages in the premium journal. In the Court of the Dead Deluxe Hardcover Sketchbook, a rather feisty resident of Illverness cajoles your inner artist to surmount artist block and DRAW. And for those mortals hankering for more stories, the Court of the Dead: Grave Tales Comics Omnibus features both some all-new, exclusive content, along with a luxe bind-up of the beloved comics available on Courtofthedead.com.
We caught up with Ricky Lovas, Sr. Manager of Sideshow Originals, and Designer and Art Director of these fine publications to get the inside scoop on their many quirky special features…
The Court of the Dead Deluxe Hardcover Journal has a very striking cover color scheme: Metallic silver on a black faux embossed leather. What inspired this stark palette?
Since the overall motif is based around the property’s central character – Death – and his interaction with the reader (and writer), I played off part of his ensemble’s color scheme. The dressing under his armor is mostly black, silver and red. Red, black and silver (or white) also happens to be my favorite combination of colors, and this scheme bears strong ties to two of my favorite bands, so it was an easy decision.
There are two spreads (4 pages) of exclusive illustrations at both the beginning and end of the sketchbook. What is your favorite drawing from this unique micro-story?
I have to give that honor to the first illustration in the journal. I worked with my good pal Amilcar Fong, who is the lead concept designer for Court of the Dead, to make the illustrations for this project. He has a good habit of blowing away our expectations, and it was no different this time around. This illustration represents the “inspiration stage” in the art process to me. Art is our expression and interpretation of all the things we see and experience, whether those be good or bad.
Sometimes, things can build up inside you and cause stress or discontent and your art is the best way to combat that, whether it be through drawing, writing or any other form of expression. That’s what this image represents. It is the artist struggling to travel through the psychotic highways of her mind to find an avenue that puts her feelings and ideas on the coming pages. Amilcar conveyed that in spades in this illustration, all the while keeping it rooted in the world that is Court of the Dead, in which he has had such a large hand in creating.
What new and/or exclusive content is included in the comics omnibus?
Our illustrious Jester of the Court, Malavestros, has written an introduction (or in some cases – penned his unfiltered commentary!) for every story in the collection. Among those stories is one brand new comic, centered around Malavestros himself and the ever-cocky yet ultra-suave Wightshiv. There are also 3 full spreads (6 pages) of making-of content. I really enjoy these pages because it gives fans a small glimpse in to the process of making these comics. Some of the most fun moments of making comics is coming in to the office in the morning and having rough layouts of an entire comic and getting to see what a story can become visually for the first time, so I think it’s cool that we can share some of those moments with everyone.
To me, though, the best exclusive of this collection of stories is the fact that this is the only physical representation you can get of them. Physical media is very important to me, so the fact that we are able to finally deliver some of these stories to you guys in an edition that you can actually hold in your hands is quite thrilling for me. Reading stories online is perfectly fine, but nothing beats being able to hold something in your hands and experience the stories as you turn each page. It’s not a web browser you close when you have finished. It’s a nearly 150-page book that can then live on your shelf for all of time.
Why did you title the comics omnibus Grave Tales?
Amusingly enough, it was just a silly placeholder – or “working title” – that we had for the project. As things moved along and Malavestros’ voice became very prominent throughout the collection of stories, the sort of tongue-in-cheek title all of the sudden fit very well, so it stuck.
What is the significance of the cover illustration for Grave Tales?
Malavestros is a very prominent character in the Underworld. He is the storyteller. He is the chronicler of all the tales. He even serves as the personal mouthpiece of the Alltaker in many instances, as his point of view is completely unfiltered, and without bias to any of the three factions. With that said, I tasked another longtime stalwart artist of the Court, Ivan Koritarev, in producing an image that shows Mal telling the macro story of the Underworld in a way only he can.
What Ivan came up with is what you see on the cover; Malavestros pulling the characters and world right off the pages of his book to share with all of us mourners. Ivan also illustrated all the images of Malavestros for the comic introductions, and back cover, as well as multiple comics included in the book. It’s too early to divulge too much, but keep an eye out next year for another big comics collaboration with Ivan.