By Geoff Boucher
July 02, 2013 at 04:31 PM EDT
Joe Perez/The Vladar CompanyArcana

There’s a long history of comic book artists treading into the neighboring world of album cover art especially when psychedelia, counter-culture, fantasy or heavy metal bridged the distance between the art table and the turn table. Usually it’s an art table star — like R. Crumb, Berni Wrightson, Barry Windsor-Smith or Paul Pope to just a few — playing the tourist in turntable territory but the exact opposite is the case with the cover for Head Smash.

The haunting image is the handiwork of Joe Perez, the designer and art director best known for his work with Kanye West and Donda. Perez’s portfolio includes the Cruel Summer album cover in 2012, for example, but never a comic book. That changes with the brutal dystopian visions of Head Smash , which features interior art by Dwayne Harris and the original cover by Tim Bradstreet. The world is the creation of Vlad Yudin of The Vladar Company and was co-written with Erik Hendrix of Arcana and premieres down at Comic-Con International. We caught up with Perez to get in tune with his mixed media. See the art below.

Joe Perez/The Vladar CompanyArcana

 Click for a bigger image.

Entertainment Weekly: Early on in the project was there something you circled in your mind as especially alluring opportunity or inviting challenge?

JP: The fact that this was my first notable project outside the realm of the music industry was alluring in and of itself —  then I talked to Vlad and he gave me more insight into the post-apocalyptic world of Head Smash. I was instantly hooked and already felt the design gears in my head starting to turn…you instinctively know when a project is special. Vlad gave me a lot of creative freedom with art and though that sounds liberating it’s also a challenge in the sense that you not only have to meet the expectations of the reader but capture the tonality.

Any surprises along the way, either good or bad?

JP: I’m surprised at how everything just fell into place. Normally I sit down in front of my computer and create option-after-option because I’m either not personally satisfied or I have multiple ideas. Head Smash was different. I had a crisp vision of the poster in my head from the very beginning of the project. All I had to do was sit down and transplant the poster that I saw in my head onto my computer screen. The only bad part of this project was when It ended.

Is there something that would hook you as a reader if you were just happening along the book?

JP: I was hooked by the tag line,”To Obey is to Die.” It reminded me of Orwell’s 1984, and how conforming destroys a person’s soul. So the tag works on multiple levels even though it may appear as literal. It sets the tone before you even open to page one.

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