Why I Like Dark Horse Comics

This here is one of the reasons why I really have come to love Dark Horse comics, they have the most amazing comic covers. Sure painted covers with this kind of detail take longer to produce, but they are still amazing. The kind you’d want hanging in your room. MTV News just posted an exclusive walkthrough of cover artist Dan Dos Santos’s latest Serenity cover, ‘River’s Dream’ which you see below. Of course I had to share it here because it is one of the books I’m most looking forward to in 2014. This one takes place place after the events of the movie Serenity.

Malcolm Reynolds’s crew shook the ’verse to its core when they laid bare the crimes against humanity undertaken by their sinister government—the Alliance. Always outlaws, Mal, a very pregnant Zoe, new pilot River Tam, and the other surviving crew members are in greater danger than ever, and everyone’s asking the same question . . .

Serenity: Firefly Class 03-K64—Leaves on the Wind #1 (of 6), written by Zach Whedon and art by Georges Jeanty, is on sale January 29.

‘River’s Dream’, by Dan dos Santos

“Every commission starts with the manuscript. After reading through Zack Whedon’s rough draft of ‘Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #3’, I began to sketch some rough ideas for the cover. Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief, Scott Allie, requested I depict the opening dream sequence with River Tam, so I started there.

“Although my finished paintings are typically painted traditionally, I almost always sketch digitally, which allows me to think in terms of color and value rather than line when concepting a piece. Using Photoshop and a Wacom Tablet, I quickly came across an idea that I felt really captured the flavor of the story.

“Once this sketch was completed, submitted and approved, I began preparing for the actual painting.


“I started by priming my illustration board (which is basically just really thick paper that artists can paint on). Using a mixture of white, grey and pink primer, I created an irregular surface with bold brushwork and splattering that would hopefully provide some textural interest for the subsequent painting.

“While that was drying, I took a LOT of screen grabs from the Firefly show, and scoured the internet for any pictures of Summer Glau that I felt would help me refine my rough drawing. With those pictures, and a lot of other reference I shot myself (of hands and children, etc.), I redrew my sketch directly onto the primed illustration board using colored pencil.


“From there, the process was actually quite experimental. I applied several washes of acrylic paint (with a traditional brush and airbrush), and detailed things as I went along with colored pencil. I bounced back and forth between the paint and pencil a lot, gradually building a smoother, more refined surface with each coat.

“Once I felt I pushed the acrylic and pencil as far as I could, I finished the painting off in traditional oil paints (my preferred medium). Areas like the blue gloves, which are relatively more realistic, are much easier to paint in oils since the slow drying time allows me to refine things with ease. The oil paints also allowed me smooth out the flesh tones, darken and tint some large sections, and glaze a lot of vibrancy into the more saturated areas.


“After completion, the painting is left to dry for several days, and then varnished and photographed. The high-resolution scan was submitted to Dark Horse, where it was met enthusiasm and zero revisions… My favorite kind of job!

“The final painting ‘River’s Dream’, measures 16 x 24 inches, and is pencil, acrylic, and oils on board.”