Cover Up!

Talking comic book art with the creator of Minecraft’s new tees

Comic books have given me so many good things: basic literacy, a profound appreciation of spandex and a secret yearning to be transformed into an aquatic superhero by a radioactive fish bite - to name but a few. But for some, including the talented designer behind our new set of tees, reading comics was the foundation of an entire career.

Atomic Rocket, as he likes to be known, is a self-professed comic-book nerd, with a collection that started in the 90s.

“I didn’t follow the stories as closely as I do now,” he tells me. “I just loved the art. I’d study every panel and it really shaped me as a young artist. So I thought it would be a really fun take on Minecraft!”

Easier said than done, perhaps, but Atomic Rocket is a master of the craft. He draws on his love and understanding of comic books to make his t-shirts stand out from the crowd. “I love the formula behind a comic book cover,” he explains. “You need to convey story with one dynamic image. You want to show the struggle the protagonist is about to face in the hopes that the reader will pick up the book and discover how the hero is going to get through the challenge.”

He continues: “I think t-shirt design should be both simple and complex at the same time, if that makes sense. When you first look at a tee you should be able to understand it, like with this series. There’s no question you’re looking at a classic comic book cover but as you examine it you start seeing all the tiny details that make it special.”

So where do you start with this kind of challenge? “I always try to start with the story,” Atomic Rocket says. “If you’re not telling a story, you may as well sell a blank shirt.”

"If you’re not telling a story, you may as well sell a blank shirt."

Atomic Rocket says he just fell into the art and design world after visiting a t-shirt designing friend in Seattle. The art director heard that he could draw and he landed a job accidentally, right then and there. “That was about nine years ago,” he tells me.

But even with the nine years’ experience, he still feels the pressure; “I tend to worry when I put type on a shirt. The last thing I want is a typo! So I kinda drove myself crazy with checking for spelling errors in this series. One night I woke up, panicked, thinking I made a shirt that said ‘Tales from the Dessert’. Luckily, though, it was spelled correctly. That evening I treated myself to an ice cream sandwich in honour of the desert/dessert scare.”

So, if you want to design t-shirts, learn retro comic book art and make the occasional typo (hey, we’ve all been there), what’s his advice? Well, surround yourself with creatives and hit up your local comic book store! And don’t be afraid to experiment. “Don’t feel like you can’t do something just because someone else has done it. Give it your own spin.”

And with such great advice, we must let Atomic Rocket return to work, so that we can all look as fashionable in the future as we do today. While he cracks on with my latest Fishkid™ costume ideas, you guys should go check out the rest of the Minecraft range made by our talented friends at Jinx. Don’t forget to follow Atomic Rocket’s latest work on Twitter and at his website as well!

Written by
Emily Richardson