Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gaiman and McGinnis restore the human touch to book cover art

I apologise for not posting last week. I started a new day job and so it put me back in my writing schedule. But now I’ve returned to the night job here at the Fantastic Site once again!

A few weeks ago I was at Crocker Con talking to a friend, Chris Wisnia creator of the Doris Danger comic book series. The series commemorates comic book creator Jack Kirby’s art of the 1970s while spoofing 1950s and ‘60s atomic sci fi monsters. Anyway, I told him that one of the comic books I read over the summer was an issue from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman storyline from 2014, Overture. He told me he just finished reading Gaiman’s award winning novel, American Gods. I said I haven’t read that one yet because I normally don’t have the attention span for a 500-plus page novel. (The last one that I read was David Copperfield, which, as great as it is, took me over a year to read because I was reading other books simultaneously.) But I told him that I’ll probably read it as an excuse to buy the new Robert McGinnis cover edition. McGinnis used to paint the illustrations for early pulp fiction magazines and paperbacks, including the James Bond series. And so I’m using this excuse for two reasons: 1) Because McGinnis painted the cover art rather than digitally produced it; 2) The style is that of the late 1960s to early ‘70s. Though Neil himself says that “In my head . . . it's probably from about 1971...”  Close enough, since that was a transitional period between two eras.

Robert McGinnis Book Cover for Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
American Gods, Robert McGinnis cover edition
Credit: Amazon/William Morrow

The McGinnis edition of American Gods is now available. Neil plans to release several more of his titles with book cover art by McGinnis because, as he says, he is a lover of the old school paperbacks and loves the book cover art for its beautiful, hand-painted technique. He also says that it’s of a style of book cover art we rarely get any more. I agree with Neil, totally.

Too many people want realism in images now and so want believability in the technical sense. That photo-realism comes easier than ever with today’s computer technology, which I personally believe humanity has become too damn dependent on like a doper with drugs. This love of the photo sensual as opposed to the aesthetic high of hand-produced art, has been exploited by the corporate system, a system that I confess to being partly guilty of giving into myself in order to sell my own books. But, I haven’t sold out without offering the option of a hand-produced book cover illustration which was the case with “Circa Sixty Years Dead”. In about a month or so, before the holiday rush, I’ll have committed the sin of hypocrisy for “Circa Sixty Years”, or more like half-hypocrisy because I’ll still be offering the hand-produced book cover art edition alongside the digitally produced one.

But I support Neil’s and McGinnis’s return to hand-produced book cover art, because it’s helping bring back the humanity in art which has been taken over by the machine and the drive to make money. If you want to support a return to hand-produced art and you’re a Gaiman or McGinnis fan like me, then you may want to purchase the new paperback edition of American Gods. If you want to go a 16th of a mile further, then purchase “Circa Sixty Years” which you can get a hell of a lot less than American Gods but that’s because it’s on Kindle, though I plan to offer a print edition soon. So, yes the book is digital, and I’ll admit, the art is digitally reproduced, but the cover art is a photo of a hand-produced illustration the exception being the black background and some touch-ups (mainly around the edges of the statue which really runs into the digital black background). So the reason why I say you would be going the extra 16th of a mile is because the cover art isn’t completely hand-produced but also because I’m not Neil Gaiman. Hence, my book on kindle is only 99 cents.

How much humanity would you say is left in today’s book cover art, most of which is digitally produced?

Until next time . . .

Book cover depicting a six-armed goddess statue.
Available Now At Amazon!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

‘Circa’’s Influences and In Search of . . . Bloggers

Well, “Circa Sixty Years Dead” is one week old today, and my previous book, The Fool’s Illusion, will be three years old later this month! Several of you took advantage of the free giveaway of “Circa” last weekend, and so I want to thank you all. When you finish reading it, I ask that you leave a review at the book’s Amazon page at your earliest convenience, even if it’s just one or two sentences. For those of you who missed the freebies, you can still get “Circa” at the low price of 99 cents. I’m not sure when or if there will be another free giveaway for my newest short horror story. However, I am planning some more promotions where you can get a discount or even win a free copy. Watch out for promotions like these as we get closer to Halloween, the time to celebrate the horror genre! Also, I have an online book tour in the plans so watch out for updates on that, too.

A book cover depicting a six-armed goddess statue.
"Circa Sixty Years Dead" Now Available for Purchase!
Photo Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

Superficially speaking, many of the influences for “Circa” come from my love of archaeology adventure films like Indiana Jones as well as old horror movies about archaeological finds such as Universal’s Mummy films. But I can’t leave out of the list my interest in documentaries about unexplained findings such as the 1922 King Tut excavation. One of these that I enjoyed as a kid (and still do today) was the old In Search of . . . TV series hosted by the late Leonard (“Spock”) Nimoy. The great thing about this series, as with most other documentaries of the 1970s and ‘80s, is that it didn’t rely on blockbuster- influenced drama and big budget special visual effects to win over its audiences.

Like good journalism should, In Search of investigated accounts of strange phenomena by showing credible sources. Doing so made the events believable of their possible existence, although the show itself made no claims about whether or not they were true. (To do so would have been over-conclusive and therefore opinionated.) It didn’t present its cases by blaring the masses’ televisions with cinematic, over-dramatic soundtrack or smothering them with surreal camera effects. Not that it didn’t use re-enactments or any soundtrack for its episodes, it did. But the producers balanced these techniques out with the exposure of documented sources such as newspaper clippings, news footage and interviews with experts. So below I’ve provided you with a list of sample episodes of this entertaining yet educational show along with some horror movie trailers to some of the cinematic influences on stories such as my above mentioned one.

Far Out Fantastic Archaeological Finds

'In Search of . . .' Episodes

“Mummy’s Curse”

“King Tut”

“The Diamond Curse”

Horror Movie Trailers

The Mummy (Universal, 1932)

The Mummy (Hammer Studios, 1959)

The Mummy (1999 Universal Remake; not that this is a favourite of mine, but it completes the list more.)

Sphinx (1980)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

To Come . . .

Next time I’d like to return to talking more about book cover art, Neil Gaiman’s current work, and my plans for future editions of my own work. As I said, I have a lot more marketing to do for “Circa”. At the time, I’m in search of host bloggers for a near future book tour for “Circa”. If any of you fellow bloggers are interested in featuring “Circa”, please let me know in the box below or email me at and put “Circa Sixty Years book tour” in the subject box so I’ll know you’re not a spammer.

Until next time . . .

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book Release: “Circa Sixty Years Dead”

Well, it’s finally here! “Circa Sixty Years Dead” is now available at Amazon! And to celebrate the labour of my work as well as the labour all of us put into our jobs whatever they may be, for two whole days I am making my latest book of horror available for free download! So from this Sunday September 4th through Monday September 5th, you can obtain your free digital copy of “Circa Sixty Years Dead”! You don’t need a Kindle device to read it. Just click on “Read On Any Device” under the book’s image at its Amazon page and you’ll be taken to instructions on how to download a free Kindle app that can be used on any digital device. So take a break, celebrate your hard work and the closing of the summer and read about an archeologist’s labour of love . . . and labour of death! Also, after you read it, please leave a review at the book’s Amazon page. It would be greatly appreciated!

A book cover depicting and six-armed goddess statue.
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

Book Title: Circa Sixty Years Dead
Author: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.
Release Date: 3 September 2016
Format: Kindle/ebook
Length Type: Short-read (equivalent of 24 print pages)
Blurb: A young archaeologist obsesses over an ancient goddess statue that holds a beautiful force but a terrifying fate.
Where to Purchase: Amazon
Bio: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr. is a writer of science fiction, horror and other dark fiction. “Strange Phenomena” was his first short story published in print originally in the anthology Leafkin, Volume II (2010) under the name Steven Rose, Jr. He also writes film and computer technology reviews. Steven’s interests include collecting 1960s and ’70s pop cultural artifacts and other weird things, disco music and meditation. He resides in his native Sacramento, California. You can visit him at his blog,, or follow him on Twitter: @starosep2.

Now that I’ve launched “Circa Sixty Years”, look out for these upcoming events:

  • Possible book tour
  • “Circa Sixty Years” photographic cover edition
  • “Circa Sixty Years” print edition
  • The Hidden, a short fiction collection

I urge you to share this release post to your social media groups on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or whatever platform they’re on. Also, bloggers: if you’re looking for books to feature on your blogs, I’m perfectly open to you featuring “Circa”. Just let me know in the box below, at my Facebook  page or Tweet me! Have a happy Labor Day and a great last few days of summer!

Until next time . . .

A statue of Shiva.