If you’re like me and love highly imaginative art, you probably enjoy the hand-painted sci fi and fantasy book cover art of the 1980s and back. As a pre-reading ritual, you may stare several seconds, or maybe even minutes, at the beautiful art on the cover of that paperback you picked up at a used book store. And it’s nothing to be embarrassed about because the illustration is part of the art of the book as a whole. It served a commercial function which was to draw in customers to buy the book, but if it was made by a great artist such as Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo, it has an aesthetic appeal too. It makes you think about the world the story takes place in before you start reading it. It makes you want to explore that world on the other side of the front cover, just like with a carnival haunted house’s (or dark ride’s) front with its mural of monsters. Those books are from a time when individual artists did illustrations for book covers and whose work was distinct. You could tell a Frazetta book cover from a Vallejo one, a Vallejo one from a Dillon one and vice versa.
|The illustration on a speculative fiction book cover is a lot like the front exterior of a dark ride in a carnival midway: It gives you an idea of what you'll meet inside.|
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Sadly, those days are over. As I’m sure you know, there has been a rise of the photographic book cover. Except for a small percentage, these covers tend not to be very distinct in their styles. This takeover is both due to society’s obsession with the Hollywood blockbuster and the convenience of today’s digital technology, especially Photoshop-like software. Not only do readers want a photographic cover because of their inclination towards television and internet video realism so exemplary in reality TV, but publishers and self-publishers want to give them it because it’s easier and cheaper to make.
But there’s a small niche of us who still have an appreciation for and an attraction to hand-produced book cover illustrations. Rather than wanting to see what is mostly a photographic reproduction of the real world, that niche wants to see the artist’s world as much as the writer’s the art depicts on the cover. However, we all have our preferences and so I want to be fair to everyone. So I’m releasing my short-read book, “Circa Sixty Years Dead”, in two editions: a hand-produced cover illustration edition and a photographic cover illustration edition.
I’d like to discuss the aesthetic value of hand-illustrated book cover art some more, but I don’t have the time to do it now. I still have my manuscript to put together, let alone the cover. These are on top of my other writing projects. But here’s a link to an article that discusses the topic in really good detail: “The Decline and Fall of the Book Cover”, Tim Kreider.
Right now, I want to make sure you know about a special offer I’m making for you: upon its release I’m giving away copies of the hand illustrated cover edition of “Circa Sixty Years Dead” for free. However, I’m only doing it for one day. I said last time that I would be releasing the book at the beginning of next month. However, I want to give you a chance to comment on the cover and so will have a cover reveal first. So I’m moving the release to the middle of the month although I’m not sure to what day yet. But you can be the first to know by subscribing to my blog on the subscription form towards the bottom of the side bar to the right.
Next week I’ll have a book cover concept sketch for you to give me your comments on then after that the reveal of the final, hand-produced, illustration. By then (two weeks from today) I should have the precise release date of the book and maybe the date for the photograph cover edition as well.
Until next time . . .