Got It Covered: Miguel Valderrama Gets In Your Face With 'Cyberpunk 2077'
Mar 16, 2021
by Troy-Jeffrey Allen
It all started kind of simply. “I was sharing some sci-fi/cyberpunk sketches from a project I was developing with my brother, and CD Projekt Red contacted me to do the comic,” artist Miguel Valderrama says, explaining how he got involved with the red hot Cyberpunk 2077 property. “I have wanted to be a pro since my teens, but I didn’t make the decision until a few years [ago]. I was working on animation, teaching, and doing freelance work, but I always wanted to just make comics with my brother Carlos.”
Valderrama’s modest creative endeavor with his sibling resulted in him landing a comic book gig based on the most talked about video game of 2020, Cyberpunk 2077. All because of a familial passion to create and a rather innocuous social media post that caught the eye of the game's developer, CD Projekt Red. A short time later, Miguel is announced as the artist behind Dark Horse Comics’ Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team (SEP200255). A side story that expands on the already massive open-world experience of the videogame.
“I find covers a really hard thing to do. Especially a first issue,” Miguel admits, noting the intentionally in-your-face cover to Trauma Team #1. “Considering that it’s from a highly anticipated video game, [it] wasn’t easy at all,” he adds. “Reading the script helped me [pick an image for the cover]. Knowing that the main character gets PTSD after seeing her partners dying in combat, I wanted to capture the impactful image that is recurrent [throughout] the book.
Written by Cullen Bunn, Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team’s story zeroes in on an EMT named Nadia. Nadia exists in a dystopia where transhumanist street gangs are at war with one another and corporate-controlled armies. Interestingly enough, it’s Nadia’s own trauma that propels the Trauma Team comic. In particular, she’s haunted by the image of fallen members of her team. The cover of issue one (above and below) features the protective helmet worn by Nadia and her crew. “I was looking for an impact. Something simple, but with some kind of narrative. I didn’t want just a cool picture of the Trauma Team,” Miguel tells PREVIEWSworld. “Selling the project with a solid picture was really challenging for me, I think I did around ten different concepts for the cover.”
Ultimately, Miguel’s final image for Trauma Team #1 is a successful visual intrusion. Just like in Nadia's nightmares, the image of the helmet has a forceful presence. The use of the property’s trademark bold yellow makes it even more assertive. “The yellow was an easy choice. It’s so on-brand with the videogame that just seeing it screams Cyberpunk 2077,” Miguel concludes.
But what about his brother and their creative efforts together? Well, Miguel and Carlos already made that a reality. Their kaiju series Giants was picked up by Dark Horse back in 2017. But don’t expect that to be the end of their collaboration. Not according to Miguel. “Yes, I am working on a graphic novel with my brother for next year, but we haven't announced it yet. All I will say is that there are monsters in it...”
Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team is currently being released by Dark Horse Comics. The trade paperback hits comic shops on March 17, 2021.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes BAMN, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.