When I visited fellow blogger Andrew Leon over at StrangePegs
yesterday, I had absolutely no idea that I was going to be treated to some fantastic art. To clarify, he has an amazing looking cover for a manuscript he intends to publish that is not done by a professional artist (an artist who is known in the business for doing such things and charges who knows how much for it). The author/artist who did Andrew's cover is Rusty Webb of The Blutonian Death Egg
Just as a disclaimer, I want to say that I'm thinking Rusty's rates are pretty darn affordable and I suspect it has something to do with him being an ultra-nice guy.
Anyway...this got me to thinking about cover art and how important it is to have stuff on your cover that grabs the eye. Let's take a look at a bunch of covers here:
First up is the cover for Andrew's work that is coming out.
Okay...my gut reaction... Holy crap... I can't believe that this is a cover not put out by a Publishing House.
Here are the things that make my eyes spin:
1) The letters on the title are incredible. They are scary and draw my eye so effectively in that yellowish paint that I have to know what this story is about.
2) The ominous dark clouds behind the letters. First it sets off the title beautifully. Second it scares the bejeezus out of me which I think is the reaction that one wants with this type of book.
3) The house looks lonely, forlorn, rundown, and well haunted. And that makes it look terrifying. I'm thinking that this scene captures the exact essence of Halloween night. Wow.
Okay... Now I'm going to look at the cover for Rusty's own novella and comment about what I think of it.
First off...I've never been a fan of yellow but I think it works here. I'm kind of in Michael Whelan's camp when it comes to the color yellow (he doesn't like it as a dominant color and neither do I). However, yellow is loud...it screams... and that's exactly what I think is needed here and Rusty honed in upon it exactly. Did I notice Rusty's brilliance when he debuted this cover? I thought it was pretty darn good, but not stunning like the one he did for Andrew. So yeah, Andrew's cover is better in my opinion and is what prompted me to do this post.
Okay, next I'm going to look at a cover Patrick Dilloway designed on his blog
for one of his self-published books. Patrick is a hugely talented writer. I read Where You Belong
and gave it five stars. But is he an artist? Hell no. Take a looksee for yourself.
Patrick designed this cover for an upcoming project and it was one of two that we could kind of help him choose between on his blog. Honestly though, a choice between this and the other is kind of like a choice between stale bread and a week-old biscuit.
This is one of the reasons why I wanted a publisher. I had/have no talent to design a cover were I to self-publish. Additionally, I don't really have a budget for it and I'm just going to say that this cover is kind of ugly. I mean it's just a woman with a mask on looking down at her boobs and then the title sandwiched between her cleavage. My thoughts when I saw this were, "If I self-publish, my cover will look like this and that just sucks."
Based exclusively off of this cover, I wouldn't buy this book. I know they say, "Don't judge a book by its cover," and I try not to, but yeah...it's hard to do. I hope that Patrick goes with another cover or get's Rusty to do one (I strongly urge him to speak with Rusty).
Here's the cover for Where You Belong. Same thing is going on here. The book has so many awesome characters, so many cool scenes, locations from Arizona to New York, to Las Vegas to the frickin' Grand Canyon. And the two men and one woman that are spoken of prominently in this book are absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. So what kind of cover do we get? Boring.
Yes, that's a coat hanger and a window and some sunlight and some faded curtains. O.o
I don't really know what I'm supposed to feel when I look at this cover. Maybe that Where You Belong
deserves a better cover treatment than this. Again, I urge Mutt to speak with Rusty Webb about this...like today.
Maybe he could qualify for a blog buddy discount or something.
Next up is Cindy Borgne
the sci-fi authoress that brought us Vallar
. I loved Vallar...it's a damned good read (she's winning awards for it so I'm not the only one that thinks so) and her cover art is way better than Patrick's but not as good as Rusty's.
I like this, but as I study it, the look is really computer generated. I guess that's the way people do things these days. However, this is way better than her first cover art. I don't want to offend her original cover artist but the original was just some red mountains, a stealth bomber, and a boy's ghostly face. None of the elements really worked for me but I quickly moved past that and just read the book. This at left...very eye catching and I like it. But again...not as good as one done by Rusty Webb.
I love cover art. I possess two books by Michael Whelan that feature his incredible cover art and I've read the pages over and over to listen to his wisdom. He, in my opinion, is the greatest cover artist to have ever lived and he's been lauded with Hugos galore, etc. His paintings are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and when he passes, which unfortunately could happen any day, the originals will be worth millions of dollars and I will probably weep.
Michael Whelan has many things to say about cover art...he doesn't like the digital age, but most importantly, he stresses the need for the cover art to reflect the soul of the writer and he uses symbolism in all of his paintings. I'm going to put some covers here so you can see what I'm talking about.
At left is the artist himself painting a picture of his daughter. He does everything with paints...from watercolor, to acrylics, to oils. Mostly though, he works in acrylic. What a master of his craft. Sigh.
I had a dream once when I was much younger that I wanted to meet Mr. Whelan and have him do a cover for a book I wrote. I know that will never happen.
|The shape of Arkady's legs is meant to echo the fallen towers of Isaac Asimov's book.|
|He went with the ruins of a flying city to go against the grain of the flying city being so common in science-fiction.|
|Two books, The Snow Queen, and the Summer Queen. Each symbol in the hats relates to something that happens in the book. There is nothing present in the pictures that is not essential or at least covered in some part in the novel. Pretty cool huh?|
Anyway, this ends my post on cover art. I hope you enjoyed it.