Thursday, July 13, 2017

Anatomy of a Cover: Muscadines

Cover with variant font placement.

Last year Dunhams Manor Press published S.P. Miskowski's Muscadines, which met with deserved attention and praise in the weird fiction community, and now- this weekend!- the book is up for a Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novella. To celebrate the occasion and perhaps draw a bit more attention to Miskowski, whose latest collection I Wish I Was Like You was just published by JournalStone, I offer a look at the Muscadines cover art development.

These eight thumbnails show how quickly S.P. and I honed in upon the Muscadine grape and a wine bottle as a cover image, and the addition of a woman's hand made the design both sexy and dangerous.

 Hoping to bring an element of horror into the cover art, I experimented with faces of men screaming, pleading, writhing in pain, their features twisted reflections on (in?) the bottle. To make the faces more authentic, I bought a bottle of wine, peeled the label off, and drew the faces I made in white chalk on black paper.

A Dunhams Manor collectible, the bottle went unopened until KrallCon 2016, where it was unceremoniously emptied and tossed. I should've kept it on my shelf and continued to make funny faces into it...

With the elements in place, I did larger and more finished drawings to test their effectiveness. S.P. didn't think it was necessary to see more of the woman behind the bottle other than her hand, and of course, she was right. My wife Laura helped get the lighting correct by posing her hand with the bottle.

These chalk drawings were all donated to Dunhams Manor Press to be sent to subscribers- yet more DMP collectibles! Hope this original art finds its way to happy readers of horror...

Finished pencils and final scratchboard image, 8" x 10"

Added bonus: pages of surreal portraits inspired by Francis Bacon, whose work prompted Miskowski to pen this novella in the first place! With such inspiration, you know any resulting story will be wonderfully twisted and bizarre! To conclude, best wishes to S.P and Muscadines at ReaderCon this weekend!

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Horror in Ballpoint

Whenever someone comes across my Cthulhu Commune zine on Etsy and bothers to place an order, I try to include a drawing done in ballpoint pen as a token of appreciation.

I figure it's the least I can do for someone willing to shell out a few dollars for a zine these days.

Ballpoint is a humble yet versatile tool, and with some care, is capable of some fine detail that can take on the appearance of silverpoint.

The more time spent with the sketch, the more interested I become in textures generated by the ink, and at this point I can easily spend an hour lost in the act of drawing.

Cthulhu Commune #1 and 2 can be found at my Etsy store, where I occasionally offer other original pieces and illustrations. And yes, orders come with complimentary Cthulhu drawings, too.