The POP Cover of the Week is a ghostly, sad, and beautiful portrait: "Punk Mambo #5"

Punk Mambo #5, Valiant Comics, Cover art by Zu Orzu.

"Punk Mambo #5" cover art by Zu Orzu

The POP Cover Of The Week is another great example of a current trend in covers: a simple design centered around a close-up portrait.

Punk Mambo #5 features Zu Orzu’s beautiful side-eye illustration, depicting a rare sad/vulnerable moment for the fiery title character, a London voodoo priestess living in the Louisiana Bayou who goes by Punk Mambo. Her colorful and unforgettable name is no doubt helpful to remember for those interested in hiring her for her supernatural mercenary skills. Orzu’s decision to make her skin monochromatic gray heightens and emphasizes the rest of the limited color palette of hot pink, cools blues, and violets…buttery smooth in some places like her skin, and expertly gritty in others, for a pleasing balance of textures.

PM’s signature neon Mohawk blazes off of her head and the edges of the cover like pink flames, serving as a perfect backdrop for the brilliantly designed comic title. Readers of this feature know how much value I place on the trade dress, the design of the comic title logo, and the look placement of the publisher’s logo, the pricing, the creative credits, etc. To me, the trade dress carries just as much weight in the overall cover design as the illustration; good trade design can add to great art and elevate it to POP Cover Of The Week, or bad trade dress can take that same great art and drag it down and ruin the entire cover.

The title logo for Punk Mambo could be accused by many graphic designers of having too much going on in it, but in this case it works: the ransom note approach of the letters, the voodoo doll pins, the anarchy symbol, and a mini-portrait of Punk Mambo herself standing in for the “O”. It may seem chaotic to some, but isn't that one beloved aspect of punk? The rest of the trade dress elements are small, spare, banished to the far corners of the cover, as not to intrude on the portrait. Even the artist’s oriental-style signature is a beautiful design element.

Punk Mambo’s adventures in this 6-issue series take her to the streets of Haiti, where she is investigating mysterious abductions. The blue, ghostly figures surrounding her on the cover are likely the victims. Some are even placed on Punk Mambo’s body, like spectral tattoos. Brilliant.

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