Monday, September 17, 2012


They say you can't judge a book by it's cover, but we (especially those of us who work in the publishing business) know that the cover is essential in selling books. A few factors that I keep in mind when designing the cover are the following"

STYLE: I like to be consistent in my style. Although my style may evolve with new ambitions and influences, there are many things that have remained consistent over the past 12 years of illustrating books. I am heavily influenced by Victorian illustrators and picture books. Not only has my artwork reflected this love by era and wardrobe but also by line work and tone. Many of the covers out of the 20 books I've illustrated have been inspired by old covers or posters. Santa Claws was inspired by the old Saturday Evening Post, Sleepy Hollow was inspired by old Dennison Boogie Books, the Wicked Nursery Rhymes series was inspired by old Mother Goose covers, Little Jordan Ray's Muddy Spud was inspired by the old Farmer's Almanac cover, Grimericks was inspired by old circus posters, Boris and Bella was inspired by old movie posters, and The Dangerous Alphabet was inspired by old Alphabet books. Consistently, the Frankenstein cover is inspired by Victorian literature covers as well.

ORIGINALITY: Some editors and art directors want the cover to look like the covers of other best selling novels. I don't agree with this. I'm not saying this gimmick doesn't work. But I make my books, art and films for me and have to trust that my preference is the same as those who would be interested in my work. If I go into a bookstore and scan the shelves, the book that is going to stand out to me is the one that does NOT look like everything else. Then it is up to the quality and the description on the back to seal the deal.

NARRATIVE: It is important that the cover reflects the tone and concept of the story without saying too much as to spoil the mystery. This is the exact opposite of exploitation. Exploitation shows all the meaty parts to excite and entice. But usually the content lacks any substance and the promotional art is the best part of the product. That's what makes exploitation movie posters so amazing.

The story of Frankenstein to me, is about Victor and how his obsessive passion for his work destroys all his relationships, Elizabeth being the one closest to him. I chose to focus on the journey that Victor takes which is alone, forbidden and morbid. Setting him in the midst of a cemetery seemed most appropriate. At first a had the dark figure of his creation in the corner of the sketch, but decided that it would be better to keep this a mystery. Victor holding the shovel eludes to his immoral task at hand. The gears set in the title represent the industrial revolution and the irresponsible speed of scientific advancements. These are all things that I think reflect the bowels of the book.

Something found on old book covers that I think is a nice touch is the separation of spine from the cover. Some books had an actual separation from fabric to printed card stock. But in others, it was just illustrated that way. I plan on using a marbling meat texture for the end papers of the book. I thought it would kick crypts to add that same meat texture to the binding of the cover and make it look like it is stitched on.

This cover is only in beginning stages at this point. I have plans to add a small frame on the back center cover containing a shrine-like illustration of Victor's love interest Elizabeth. I'll keep you updated on those sketches as well as the end results.


  1. It looks gorgeous. For some time I am a follower of you, both on the blog and in your work. Although Spain is very difficult to get your books.
    It is the first time I dare to write a comment on your blog, because my English is not very good.
    Coincidentally, I also had the pleasure of making my own adaptation of Frankenstein for a collection of apps for iPad. Although in my case, adaptation is very faithful to the original novel, as the series attempts to bring the classics of world literature for children and youth.
    Just hope I can get your books, Gris Grimly's Frankenstein, somehow in my country.
    A friendly greeting from a fan and illustrator from Spain.

  2. Beautiful, as always. I just finished reading Frankenstein (inspired to do so by you working on this), and I am even more excited for the finished project. Bravo for being an individual.

  3. I discover your blog today, I'm really amazed. I'm a great fan of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I can't wait to see the finished project. Congrats! Will you publish it by your own way or is there already a publisher?

    I'm a french illustrator too and I recently made an illustration based on the James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein (check:, I think you should like it.