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!

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