Dead West: the Evolution of an Anthology Cover

With the release of the horror anthology “Dead West: 13 Tales of Murder and Mayhem” fast approaching, I’m really excited to leak some concept art for the book!  For “Dead West” I am drawing 13 interior illustrations as well as the cover.  I’m very proud of the illustrations I’ve completed thus far, as they all have a very cohesive flow and style to them which will tie together all the stories in the book.  I wasn’t originally slated to draw a cover, we were going to go with a computerized illustration/graphic design, but there was a change of plans and we decided to have me draw the cover as well to tie the whole book together.  While I cannot give you a peak at any of the interior illustrations, here is a look at the evolution of my concept art leading up to the next-to-final draft.

When Scott from Bandersnatch Books and I talked about the cover I sketched up 4 different concepts to see which one/ones he liked better.  He liked the “cowboy skeleton” in the upper left hand corner and also the “dead man’s hand” poker in the bottom left corner.

Scott felt the cowboy skeleton was too close to the original cover that got scrapped, but wondered if maybe I could incorporate the 2 he liked together into some sort of a “skeletons playing poker” picture.  So I came up with this:

I showed it to Scott and he said it was exactly what he had in mind.  So my next step was then to polish this up and come up with a “next-to-final draft” before I actually begin the final drawing of the cover.  I wanted a way to “frame” the picture since it will obviously be hand-drawn and I don’t have a way to “fade” anything into the background.  If you have seen the signature sheets you’ll remember the barbed wire I used; wooden planks play a key role in the interior illustration’s design, so I put those elements together and came up with this next-to-final draft:

So what do you think?!?  I need to shift the 3 skeletons to the left a bit to better center the piece, and I also need to work with shadows and folds to get some black contrast in there, but overall I’m happy with it!  I think the “first person” view gives the reader the illusion of being PART of the story conveyed through the cover, and it is ambiguous enough to allow for the vast variety of stories included within the anthology, yet lets the reader know right off the bat that this is a Western Horror  collection and you “grasp” the idea for the feel of the rest of the book through the cover!

Anyway, check out Bandersnatches website for more on “Dead West” as well as “The People on the Island” (for which I also provide an interior illustration) and keep checking back for pre-order information!

http://bandersnatchbooks.com/bandersnatch/

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