Earlier this week, CBR News presented a frank discussion with industry veteran Simon Bisley about the cancellation of Vertigo's flagship series "Hellblazer," the longest running title of the DC Comics imprint which comes to a conclusion with February's issue #300. Bisley, the series' most prolific cover artist and sometimes interior artist, spoke openly about the importance of the character and title to him, giving insight into the influences into his depiction of the character, his reaction upon learning of the upcoming DCU-based "Constantine" title and much more.
In discussing the creation of the final cover for issue #300, Bisley replied that he had actually worked up quite a few versions in the thumbnail stage. "Karen [Berger, Vertigo's Executive Editorand SVP] chose the first cover on my run ["Hellblazer" #256] from a very simple sketch I did, and the last one was just a little scribble, as well, of John Constantine walking away in the rain from a cigarette," Bisley told CBR. "JC's gone. He's left now and that cover is my way of saluting him. It's so symbolic of him, really. All that's left is a cigarette. All he did was fucking smoke all the time.
"In the original drawing, he was walking away with Epiphany and all you could see was their bottom halves. JC's hand was on Epiphany's butt. It also had the whole cigarette packed crushed. I had another one that was just Constantine flicking a really big "V," his fingers going out of the page with a grin on his face. He had a watch on his wrist and it was just falling to pieces for some reason. There was another with the devil laughing behind him. I did quite a few. I was very, very happy that Karen chose the one she did, though. I was very pleased. It's a simple cover with a lot of power behind it. And remember, the first cover I did, he's walking towards us with a cigarette, and now on the last one, he's walking away with the cigarette on the ground."
Below, check out four of the sketches Bisley presented to Berger, including the one which was ultimately fleshed out into the fully-painted cover for the final chapter in John Constantine's "Hellblazer" run.