Helen Chen Uncovers Silk

Cindy Moon will crawl a fine line between good and evil when her new series SILK launches on November 18. Written by Robbie Thompson and drawn by Stacey Lee with covers by Helen Chen, the new ongoing examines how far the character will go to find the family she lost.

Silk first appeared in Dan Slott’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Readers soon discovered that the spider that bit Peter Parker also bit Cindy, but the latter wound up unable to control her abilities and got locked up by Ezekiel. Eventually freed, Silk became a heroine in her own right going on to help out with Spider-Verse and headline a solo series by Thompson and Lee.

In the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe Silk still searches for her family, but now she’s working for Black Cat and might have turned to the dark side. We talked with cover artist Helen Chen about developing the reader’s first look at this new book.

Marvel.com: Generally speaking, what kind of notes are you given before jumping into a cover assignment?

Helen Chen: Generally Robbie [and editors] Nick [Lowe] and Devin [Lewis] give me a short blurb about the issue and some suggestions of what they’d like the cover to communicate, like making sure to include Black Cat for issue #2.

Marvel.com: When it came to designing the cover for SILK #1, were there specific details you were given about posing or composition?

Helen Chen: The prompt for this one was pretty fun; it had to be clear right away that Silk had “switched teams” so to speak, so the robbing a bank idea came straight from the [creative] team. They suggested that Silk could be in the middle of robbing the bank and also liked the idea of incorporating extra characters in the scene that could react appropriately to Silk as well, which I think really helped the final cover.

Marvel.com: A big part of the new SILK launch is that she might be crossing a few lines in the search for her parents. Was that something you were looking to incorporate into the cover?

Helen Chen: I wasn’t specifically trying to work in that angle with her search for her parents, since the broader idea I tried to communicate was the notion that the Silk in this new relaunch is maybe not the same Silk that we last saw.

Marvel.com: Were there any other specific aspects of the character or story you were looking to highlight when developing the pitches?

Helen Chen: I really tend to enjoy covers that have strong graphic appeal, and so when I do thumbnails for SILK I try to give a variety of compositions that are simple to read. It takes a few rounds of notes from the writers and editors though to really work in the story aspect. For example SILK #2 had Black Cat on the cover and most of the notes I received involved hinting at more of the story within the issue, like Black Cat holding a microchip and having an overall more sinister look.

Marvel.com: From your perspective, what are the most important elements of a good cover and how did you incorporate those into SILK?

Helen Chen: I come from a background of doing a lot of art for films and so I have pretty specific ideas about what I feel make a strong visual image. Usually it includes a lot of use of shape and silhouette versus high contrast rendering. One of my favorite figurative illustrators was Robert McGinnis and I love the way he blocks out and simplifies his figures, and takes care not to over-render. For me, a successful cover should be easy to read and understand immediately, but have details and hints at story layered in for when people have the chance to really look at it.

SILK #1 from Robbie Thomson, Stacey Lee, and cover artist Helen Chen wall-crawls into stores on November 18.