Designing the Original Drop Target Issues!
Sorry that this update is a day late! We’re 8 days into our campaign, and Alec and I are humbled and honored by everyone’s support. We continue to see people spreading the word, and we can’t thank you enough! Every week, Alec and I want to give you all a look into the work and people that went into making the seven original issues of Drop Target, and a look at the making of the Drop Target Omnibus!
This week I’d like to talk about the sort of design work that Alec and I put into the seven original issues of Drop Target. When Alec started talking about making a pinball zine, we wanted the design to be consistent, but also communicate our enthusiasm for pinball, and our artistic mission statement, as much a possible.
We are both inspired by Hey, 4-Eyes!, a zine about eyeglasses edited by Robyn Chapman, but have always been particularly taken with how tight the design is, and how every inch of that book, down to the little eyeglasses next to the page numbers, screams “GLASSES!”. Little aspects of the book like endpapers or contributor bios all reinforced the theme of glasses. We wanted the same expert attention to detail.
When we set out to create the design schema for the book, the first thing that we knew is that we wanted there to be seven issues. With that in mind, we decided that every issue should be a different color, like a rainbow, with the seventh issue being silver (like a pinball). We wanted the covers to be simple and straightforward, and be read unmistakably as a publication about pinball, so we assigned a part of a pinball machine to each of the covers. Now, these objects weren’t chosen wantonly; our goal was to walk the reader though an imaginary game of pinball.
The first cover was a plunger, plunging the ball into play. Then the ball goes up to the top lanes in the back of the playfield, our second cover. After that, the ball drops into the bumper pit, our third cover. Next, the ball rattles around the playfield hitting the slingshot and a couple drop targets, our fourth and fifth covers. The ball finally comes down to the flippers (our sixth cover) and you’re flipping away! We were torn about what to do for our last cover image, and briefly discussed depicting a ball draining. This seemed too depressing, and contrary to our goal of expressing our enthusiasm for pinball! We finally settled on a DMD with a high score displayed, showing that the game was over, but that it was one heck of a game!
Besides the overarching theme for the front covers, we made several decisions for the interior of the book that kept each issue consistent, and reinforced the individual theme of each book. First, Alec and I would jam on a joint illustration for the title page of the book. This illustration would show us interacting with pinball in a way that had something to do with the theme of that issue (ex: us playing an imaginary double-decker pinball machine for the “design” issue).
For the interior of the book, Alec and I had a rule that there needed to be AT LEAST one illustration on every spread of the book. We’re both passionate about cartooning, and it was part of our mission statement to connect illustration, comics, and pinball. Alec made banners for each of the sections of our zine (Tilt Talk, Replay Review, Dream Machines, etc) and those exact files were used in each of the seven issues. This helped maintain consistency across the issues.
The last design decision that we made for the interiors of the book was that the outro page would also have a jam drawing by us, but this one would be themed to whatever the NEXT issue was centered around, to get our readers hyped up!
We put a lot of work into making the back cover of the seven original issues feel like the end of a pinball game, while still connecting it to the content of that issue. All of the artist/writer/contributor credits were composed using the pinball high score initials of us and our collaborators. The back cover was also accompanied by an illustration of a “match”. In many pinball machines, the game will give you a chance to win a free game by randomly selecting a number. If that number matches the end of your score from that game, you get a free game and can keep playing!
Each of the back-cover match screens are a match, and there is a loud “KNOCK” sound effect of the player (reader?) winning an free game. The matching number was always the same as whatever issue of Drop Target we were on, and the game that the match screen was pulled form was always the game that was featured in the “Replay Review” section in that issue!
When Alec and I sat down to design the cover for the Drop Target Omnibus, we looked to our original seven issues for inspiration. In our next update, Alec will tell you all about the cover design process!