ARE YOU THERE AND OTHER STORIES
A couple of process notes about the art: this illustration was directly inspired by Jack's stories, but it's not a literal translation of any of them. Although it's a very simple graphic solution, it took me a while to gather the courage to go this way. If you click on Amazon (for a limited time until it gets replaced with the final cover), you'll see my aborted original solution where a man is literally trying to hug a phantom, which was inspired by the stories, but perhaps was just as much me trying to capture a collection that isn't easily pegged. It's an interesting idea, and a work-in-progress (it even includes something I borrowed from a previous cover as a stand-in design element for the time being), but I thought that original picture was failing to communicate. It was a gut feeling, and I couldn't shake it. So I ditched it.
Huge credit must be given to Gary Turner, publisher of GGP, and Jack himself for allowing me to veto the picture. They had already approved the cover art, and the distributor had approved it as well for catalog purposes, but after much soul-searching, I just felt it was lacking. It's highly unusual to start over at this stage, but because the client had the catalog image as a safety net, I started over and revisited a different idea from my initial sketches. Originally, I'd abandoned this idea because I couldn't think of a way to turn it into a wraparound composition, which is a prerequisite of all GGP cover art. It could be an amazing front cover image though, and most importantly, it was utterly resonant with the tone of Jack's book. So I went for broke and did it. All the while, I wasn't sure if the piece was too simple and too spare, but stayed the course. And this is how the full wraparound composition turned out:
I printed up a scale mockup of how the art might wrap around a GGP book, and looked at the abstract cloud forms on the back cover (left half of the picture below). The full wraparound makes me a bit twitchy because the left half is so spare, compared to past work. However, seeing my little mockup was a great reminder of design context and that the back cover art works beautifully when the art finds its destination wrapping around a book. And that's what matters, in this case.
GGP gives its authors more cover art input than normally afforded by most publishers. So when Jack said that I "nailed" the art and that he couldn't stop staring at it, it was all worth it. Thanks again to both he and Gary, for keeping the faith. Thanks to Matt Fulcher and Sanford Allen for being partners-in-crime as I figured this out. I love this book and can't wait for it to be published.