Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Broken Boy

Recently, I was approached by Jay Jenkins, the editor of Valancourt Books to re-create the cover of a 1959 novel called "The Broken Boy" by British author, John Blackburn.  Here's the 1959 cover:
(Click for larger view)
It's a novel that starts like a murder mystery (dead prostitute found in a river), evolves into a spy novel (she's a Russian spy?) and then shoots off into Weird Mystery (..part of a satanic cult!).  So, pretty cool...kind of like a Scooby Doo mystery gone haywire.  Right up my alley. :)

Jay wanted an homage to the original cover.  Something that had the main elements of girl, statue, and skyline, but with my own take on it.  "Maybe she could look more dead?" and "Can the statue be more evil?" were his only requests.  I like publishers that ask those kinds of questions. :)  Here's how the cover art turned out:
(Click for larger view)
I thought, "heck, it's an homage piece, all of the elements are pre-determined...how tough could it be?"  Stupid, stupid Dave.
It was tough.  First off, there are plenty of images of tribal fertility statues out there on the web...and they're all silly looking.  Well, maybe some are kind of creepy, but in that "weird guy on the subway" vibe, not "creepy-evil" way.  So, I took another look at the original art, and did some reading on how the story describes the statue.  Turns out, the statue is supposed to have arms and legs with joints the bent the wrong way (hence the "Broken Boy" title), so I started thinking "deformed-creepy-evil" and worked with emphasizing that.  The woman was easier as there are plenty of pictures of drowned people on the internet (BLEH!) to help out regarding reference.  Like that creepy, skull-like reflection in the water?  I do.
So, there you have it.  My interpretation of a weird, 1959 cover done in watercolors, grayscale markers, and colored pencil.  It took about a week of evenings to finish.

Oh yeah, he's got a penis.  That was a bit weird, too.  I mean, the 1959 cover has a penis as well...it's just not very noticeable, and I am not one to back down from a challenge.  It's a fertility statue, for crying out loud, and that part HAS to be there.

When I showed the mock-up to Jay for approval, he sent me back a reply that said "The dead hooker looks great!"

Life as an artist is weird sometimes.  But, it's better than not being one. :)

I'll let you know when the book is available for purchase and when the original is available as well.


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