You can’t judge a book by its cover. That’s for sure.
But you CAN buy one. I’ve done so many times. Haven’t you?
So, going by that theory, the book cover is the one of the most important creative decisions you can make.
It’s your port of entry. Your visual ambassador to the universe.
What must it do?
I believe it must convey the mood, the tone, and the style of your story, without being cluttered or confusing… and it has to trigger an emotion upon the reader strong enough to have him or her pick it up – or click it to find out more detail.
So how best to showcase a young adult horror gore fest sex comedy… for kids?
The mandate was twofold: find something that was gross but funny, and find something you could see from across the room and still have it register, even as a tiny thumbnail.
Basically, I was looking for one simple image. What that image was, I had no idea.
But I knew I would find it when I saw it. So I went shopping…
The best site to find freelance artists is DeviantArt. You could spend hours running through all the artist galleries there; one image leads to another, and soon you are combing through portfolios from artists around the world. A few keywords later (scary, funny, bugs) and I was on the hunt for a key image and a sane artist behind it.
I had landed on the image of a fly on a character’s nose beforehand. Devil’s Catch is about the doings of a group of teenagers having sex in the woods and encoutering all Ten Plagues of Egypt during their weekend (flies, frogs, locusts, etc.).
I had remembered The Silence of the Lambs poster art featuring the characters with moths for lips. Spooky, right? Googling the poster, I came across this work by Ana Bagayan (left). Eerie, provocative, haunting, memorable…
… but not exactly funny, which I needed to convey to the reader.
Digging further, I came across this work on DeviantArt by Audrey Benjaminsen (right).
Now we’re cooking! This conveys humor and a lightheartedness that’s in my book…
… but it’s not exactly frightening, which I needed to convey to the reader.
Yes, dear reader, I was looking for something humorous and lighthearted AND intense and frightening. All in one image.
Impossible you say?
Enter Cintia Gonzalvez.
Elegant, colorful, striking-looking and with a strong anime influence, Cintia’s work (see it HERE) is a standout. Her art is fun, memorable and… just a teeny bit, well, disturbing.
The work above is called “Wasp.”
Then I found this (below):
The piece above is called “I can’t tell you.”
And I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
It wasn’t for the zipper, which is fun. No, my head was swimming with possibilities, replacing the Silence of the Lambs wasp with a frog or locust and mashing it with Cintia’s amazing red-haired green-eyed frightened beauty.
One of my favorite horror book covers was Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. I imagined what it would look like with Cintia’s redhead and a baby frog on her nose. Would it work?
You bet it would!
I wondered if she accepted commissions.She did.
Did she live in Los Angeles? When could I meet her?
Oh. She lived in Barcelona. Spain. A far distance for collaboration. But her work was not only good – it was right.
Could I trust her? And, more importantly, could she trust me?
I HAD to contact her…!
CONTINUED IN PART TWO