Off the Drawing Board DC Standup vs. Earth

My brother Chris is an aspiring stand-up comedian, and also runs a web site for other aspiring comedians in the CD area. When Chris and four of his friends decided to get together and record a comedy CD, he asked me to design it.

With five comedians involved, we came up with the obvious idea of using a Voltron or Power Rangers theme. A number of album titles were bandied about, including Form Blazing Sword! and DC Standup vs. the World, but ultimately we settled on DC Standup vs. Earth as it had more of a science fiction feel to it. Here's what I came up with.

DC Standup vs. Earth CD BookletDC Standup vs. Earth CD Booklet

Not bad, but not outstanding, either. I'd originally intended to go with a classic gestalt robot look, but I just couldn't pull it off so I decided to go with more of a Mazinger/Grandizer/Voltes V look. Hey, they were all team robots, anyway. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get the head right, and I added too many squiggles to areas that should have been clean like the upper arms and legs. The end result looks more like a Herb Trimpe robot from Shogun Warriors than anything that's actually Japanese.

The robot was then composited on a background created from an image of Earth from the Fourmilab site and a star field made from randomly clicking around with Photoshop's brush tool. I'd originally intended to spice things up further with some nebulae in the background, but they wound up looking way too busy. So I duped the star field and applied some radial blur zooms to it to get the "hyperspace" effect in the background.

The logo was made from one of my favorite fonts, Romeo, which I also used to make the 741.5 Comics loog. I futzed with the dimensions of each word a bit, and then used a drop shadow as a starting point for creating the 3-D effects. A satin effect was then used to create the rock-like texture.

Looking at the cover now, I wish the composition was a tad bolder - the robot could stand to be simplified a bit and his pose could be a lot more dramatic. I could probably move the Earth to the bottom, too, and only show the top third of the planet, which would leave more room for the robot. But more than anything else, I wish I'd made the contrast on the logo a bit darker - it kinda gets lost in the shuffle.

DC Standup vs. Earth Tray CardDC Standup vs. Earth Tray Card

Here's the tray card. The original idea was to do portraits of the five comedians in sentai costumes, but I just couldn't create satisfactory likenesses of Frank, Larry, and Chris (Jared and Erin looked nice, though). So I decided to ditch the portrait idea for something I could throw together with artwork I'd already generated.

So out come the logo, planet, and star field from the original cover. The original robot image wasn't going to work for the space I had to cram it in to, so I took one of the concept sketches and inked half of it. Then I flopped it in Photoshop to create the final robot. I like the look - if only the robot on the CD booklet looked half as cool.

The basic composition of the tray card isn't bad, but there are a lot of little things that could use work. The robot and the oval behind him need to be reduced so that they both fit within the bleed. The logo needs to be moved down so that it's further away from the edge, and the spine text could stand to be reduced. The track listings and comedian names could also stand to be moved over to the right, and each comedian should have been given an equal amount of space regardless of the number of tracks he had.

A variation of this piece doubles as the back cover of the CD booklet. It actually looks better there, because the margins are slightly different. Amazing how much difference 1/4" can make...

DC Standup vs. Earth DiscDC Standup vs. Earth Disc

Now this I like. We actually had the option of going with three-color printing for the disc, but I figured color printing on the disc would look weird. This is all recycled artwork, but it's the composition that really makes everything work. Very simple, and ominous, and ultimately irrelevant because after all, who's going to look at the disc? It's going to be spinning in your CD player, not hanging on your wall. Still, I wouldn't change a thing here.


Overall, the results aren't bad for something I whipped up over the course of four days. In general, the end results would have been greatly improved if a) if I could draw giant robots, b) if I had another three days to smooth down the rough edges.

If you're interested in ordering a copy of DC Standup vs. Earth when it's released, contact Chris White at DC Standup for more information. They'll also be having a big CD release party at the State Theater in Falls Church, Virginia on the 28th.

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