I met Lou Anders, multiple award-winning art director and editorial director at Pyr, many moons ago at the San Diego Comic Con, and I’d wanted to work for him ever since.
There had been odd rumblings and hints of possible projects over the years, but this was finally the year.
How cunning of Lou to wait for me to win a Chesley. ;)
And how lucky for me that author Mark Hodder‘s story was so… mad:
When Reverend Aiden Fleischer, vicar of the sleepy town of Theaston Vale, finds a hunchbacked, light-sensitive and crippled vagabond named Clarissa Stark begging at his door, little does he suspect it’s the start of an adventure that’s literally out of this world!
Bribed by an unscrupulous family, Fleischer and his companion flee to London’s missionary college, but in wicked Whitechapel, the faithless priest stumbles upon one of Jack the Ripper’s victims and becomes convinced that he himself is the notorious killer. With her friend’s mind shattered, Miss Stark is relieved when they are both posted to the far away Melanesian island of Koluwai, but here they encounter an even darker evil, one that transports them to another planet.
Beneath the twin suns of the planet Ptallaya, Fleischer and Stark encounter an alien species, the Yatsill, master mimics who, after gaining access to Miss Stark’s mind, create their own bizarre version of Victorian London.
But Fleischer and Stark’s new home from home is not safe, for the Blood Gods will soon invade, and if he is to defeat them and rescue the woman he’s come to love, Fleischer must first face his own inner demons!
Here are the three roughs I sent Lou:
Design 1: I loved the notion of idea of a proper Venetian Carnival with four shiny dark eyes. An alien Jack the Ripper literally popping out of the complex steampunk/nouveau frame.
In your face, but with enough grace notes to keep it interesting.
Design 2: The full cast action shot ~ Marvel at Steampunk Zeppelins hovering noiselessly about Victorian factories! Covet Clarissa’s cool goggles! Be impressed by weapons and their implied uses!
I loved the column of Victorian type and the “A Novel of Wonder”, and while I suspected that it would be the approved rough, I firmly expected to have my old school type treatment vetoed.
But that discussion never came. Because of…
Design 3: Positively subdued in some ways. A tricky background but a relatively straightforward presentation of a proper Ptallayan.
I was a docent at the Smithsonian Institution’s Naturalist Center for a decade, and while I love this sort of art, I didn’t really expect Lou to go for it.
But I’m glad he did. In part because I’d already solved many of the piece’s difficulties in the rough, and that meant I could concentrate on the things that really mattered, like spats for Aliens!
The Final Cover
The finished printed book has arrived at my house, and I’m just delighted.
I may take it with me to New Zealand.
I can’t imagine a more entertaining book for a 13 hour plane flight!