Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Above are a couple of quick character sketches of Agatha Heterodyne. She’s the main character in Girl Genius. Agatha's normal dress is modest but not always. I figured less was best for the cover.
Okay, I admit it I love airships (the picture above was for another book with airships). Give me a book with airships in it and I’m a happy guy. To tell you the truth it’s not that I like gas filled balloons so much it’s that I’ve done the research and I love putting my knowledge to use. Having read a great deal about airships I know that in our present time we underestimate and underutilize this wonderful technology. We seem blind to its potential. As I write this I shake my head in disappointment for us all. It’s shameful.
Now that I’ve finished proselytizing I can get to the main thing I’m posting about today. I did the cover to a very well written and entertaining book by Phil and Kaja Foglio. The title is Agatha H. and the Airship City. Above is that cover. It’s likely that you’re familiar with the graphic novel that the book is based on but if not go here.
Now to the story of the cover: the art director for Night Shade Books, David Palumbo, contacted me and asked me if I’d like to do the cover. First, the airships – all right! Next, the first book in the series by the Foglios – good deal! I know Phil and Kaja so the pleasure was all mine. It was a mystery to me that Phil wasn’t doing his own cover but that they’d trust me to do it made me feel pretty good. Above is the first stage of painting.
Phil invented some pretty cool machinery and mechanical men so I wanted them to be on the cover. It also had to be an action cover. Agatha had to be there and she had to be beautiful. I figured she should be sexy too. Hey, look at the comic, va-va-va-voom! Above is the next day of painting. As you can see things move fast but then they slow down quick because it took me several days to get to the finish. Note that I move the Wulfenbach troopers, the mechanical men, in closer. Agatha is the center of interest of course.
Above is the cover I first turned in. Here Agatha is dressed in her bedclothes with a coat around her. She makes clockwork men in her sleep and when awoken she is embarrassed to be found dressed skimpily.
The book is being directed at a general audience, and I believe very much that it will have a wide appeal. This is why I was asked to tone down the cover. My friend Photoshop allowed me to make this change without painting on the original. Although, sadly we've lost Agatha's midriff.
Here in this closeup you can see Agatha's well formed belly, bellybutton and all. This is why my subtitle is "A Navel History." It went away only digitally. Thanks to Photoshop what's gone doesn't have to stay gone. It's almost as if the cat's tail points to it.
PS: By the way, art director at Night Shade is David Palumbo, a fantastic artist himself. Here’s something I didn’t know about David until after I did the cover, he’s Julie Bell’s son (I feel stupid having not known this). I only knew he was a good artist. You probably already know this but Julie Bell is married to Boris Vallejo. Boris’ son is Dorian Vallejo whose work always amazes me. That’s not enough though, Julie has another son, Anthony Palumbo, and he’s an accomplished painter as well. Let’s just call them the fantastic five. The reason I think I don’t know much about other artists’ personal lives is because I’m a paint person and not a people person. I tend to be absorbed in the art and I forget to have curiosity about the artists I know.