this ought to cover it

this ought to cover it

This ought to cover it. And in fact – it HAS!

My weekday mornings start with an egg, cereal, coffee, a little youtube, and an ebb and flow of correspondenc├ęd requests of what I lovingly refer to as “Visual Mad Libs.” Take a Person in this World, any noun, a smattering of subjective adjectives and a deadline adverb and freelance illustricity ensues!

About 90% of my work centers around my cheerful, Disney-esque style and sensibilities, but every once in a while I get a nice juicy tentacle covered curve ball that salutes my Comfort Zone and then promptly Mexican hat dances on it. I love a good challenge!

Stepping up as the latest paradigm of the Now For Something Completely Different 10% was Journalstone, with the opportunity to illustrate the cover for a new horror book, “He Who Walks In Shadow,” by Brett J.Talley. I was given a wonderfully descriptive passage from the book that materialized its universe in a fluid, pallid, shifting darkness in my mind’s eye. Now, all I had to do was translate what the passage created in my head onto the cover.

I started with a very rough, tonal concept sketch:

Think of this representation as Paused Book – so a flat splat binding breaker – word side down to hold your place: front cover on the right, back cover on the left. The passage of text described an ascendance of a twisting obsidian tower staircase whose darkness undulated with “mad amalgamations of form”. I loved the visual of things writhing in and out of the darkness, coming and going through solidity and perception via a “spill of pallid red light.” For the back cover I wanted to transition the slither of the tower darkness across the spine and into the many locations the prose leads the reader through: The trenches of Verdun in the top center, strewn with skulls of the battlefield that will multiply into the Catacombs of Paris in the top left. They in turn will merge into the jagged rocks of the Hebrides in the lower left corner.

Here is the finished back cover (text removed) so you can see how the various locations were represented and metamorphosed – also note the color/tone change – my sketch was still clinging to that Comfort Zone Palette :


My mom was terrified I would get super-indelible-never-come-off-till-you’re-dead-and-maybe-even-longer viruses from my reference perusal of “demons” and “hell dimensions”, but I have to say only “tentacles” got dicey…there are some dedicated subcultures out there for that search term. Browse those results with caution. And maybe a strong glass of wine.

Here’s the finished cover (sans text again)- traditional drawings scanned and colored/finessed in Photoshop:


Go forth and be horrified here on Amazon as an E-book, or on Journalstone‘s site as hard and soft cover tangibles. And raise those tentacle glasses to embracing the Something Completely Different 10%!

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