Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Beast of the Bosporus" Covers: What Might Have Been

One of the major hurdles facing would-be self-publishers is that they're responsible for all their own editing, marketing, cover art, etc. Between my own grammar-fascist tendencies and different writing groups I'm in, editing isn't a problem, and given my skill at networking, marketing isn't a problem either.

Cover art, however, is a different. I do like to draw with colored pencils, but other people can do it so much better. To put it in economics terms, comparative advantage.

For my third e-book, "The Beast of the Bosporus" I reached out to Alex Claw, who I know from my alternate-history message-board. He's done covers for former board member Christopher Nuttall and although his style is more cartoon-like than I prefer, he has been taking lessons to paint more realistically.

Since I believe in giving artists creative freedom, I sent him the text of the story and told him to come up with a cover based on what he read. Here's what he came up with:

I sent him back some suggestions, including removing Cthulhu (who is only incidentally related to the story), adjusting Sokullu Mehmed Pasha's face and fingernails a bit, and giving him a turban. After receiving my suggestions, Alex came up with this:

This cover is based on an actual scene from the story and the pasha is more distinctively Middle Eastern in look. I wrote "Beast" because I wanted to take Lovecraftian horror out of its typical rural New England setting and put it somewhere a bit more exotic.

(At the time, I'd forgotten about Robert E. Howard's short story "The Black Stone," which is set in the Balkans and includes Ottoman soldiers fighting an alien horror and its cult of rural inbred degenerates. It's a really good story, so if you want to read it, I recommend getting your hands on Nameless Cults: The Cthulhu Mythos Fiction of Robert E. Howard.It's awesome.)

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