Merry Christmas… now get to work!

Merry Christmas… now get to work!

Hey all, so Dame fortune and Santa have smiled upon me and delivered me two book covers to paint. I am very happy to be ushering in 2010 with some illustration work.

Here’s both the brief’s that I’ve received thus far, hopefully the manuscripts will be emailed to me soon so I can parse out some more details.

The Chieu Hoi Saloon
It’s 1992 and three people’s lives are about to collide against the flaming backdrop of the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. Vietnam vet Harry Hudson is a journalist fleeing his past: the war, a failed marriage, and a fear-ridden childhood. Rootless, he stutters, wrestles with depression, and is aware he’s passed the point at which victim becomes victimizer. He explores the city’s lowest dives, the only places where he feels at home. He meets Mama Thuy, a Vietnamese woman struggling to run a Navy bar in a tough Long Beach neighborhood, and Kelly Crenshaw, an African-American prostitute whose husband is in prison. They give Harry insight that maybe he can do something to change his fate in a gripping story that is both a character study and thriller.

Here are the thumbnails for The Chieu Hoi Saloon. After reading the brief on this story, I felt that it was a story about a reconciliation between Harry’s past and his present. I drew a strong connection between his Vietnam War experience and that one of the other main characters is a Vietnamese woman. As a supporting element I realized that LA/ Long Beach and Vietnam both have a lot of palm trees in them.
The first thumbnail reads quite well and is graphically very strong. The viewer is looking down on Harry as he’s walking along a boardwalk/ sidewalk. The shadow is cast as that of a soldier; his shadow is his past self. The palm trees help to frame him and reference both LA and Vietnam. This is my personal favorite. It works well from across the room, and communicates an idea from the story. There is still some room to communicate the feeling and mood of the story here as well.

The second thumbnail is another variation on the shadowy past, but in this image we’re in closer on Harry, and his shadow is cast upon a wall next to him. I think there’s some room here to draw connections between a pitted and scarred wall, and the lined and weathered face of Harry. It is a more personal perspective.

{P.S.: see the final painting here}

Douglas Pike is no longer the murderous hustler he was in his youth, but reforming hasn’t made him much kinder. He’s just living out his life in his Appalachian hometown, working odd jobs with his partner, Rory, hemming in his demons the best he can. And his best seems just good enough until his estranged daughter overdoses and he takes in his twelve-year-old granddaughter, Wendy.

Wendy bears with her all of Pike’s failures to his family, enough heartache to last a lifetime and a few unanswered questions about her mother’s death. And, following in her wake, a dirty cop named Derrick Kreiger, who carries an unhealthy interest in the girl. Pike, Rory and Derrick circle, evenly matched predators in a human wilderness of junkie squats, roadhouse dives and Cincinnati slums, with Wendy at their epicenter.

Here we have the Pike images. I worked around some ideas about what is at the core of this story. There is a “past coming to the present and having to deal with it” theme. Also I noticed a theme of unexpected family, where in Pike has to deal with, and, defend his “new” grand-daughter. As it says in the blurb “Wendy is the epicenter,” and so she’s integral to the concepts up to now.
In the first thumbnail we see Wendy as a silhouette against a dark tree. I like this image, and feel that it has a graphic punch for a cover image. I like the metaphor of the family tree, and showing it as a dark foreboding shape. There’s a lot of potential for this image, there’s a great deal that can be communicated through her body language and facial expression. { this is where the details from the manuscript will come in handy } This one gets my vote.

The second image is more narrative by comparison, Pike is shown working on a broke down truck with Wendy close at hand. Here I am showing the broke-down family as the truck, where Pike has get in there and fix it. I’ve highlighted his forearm which will have tattoos on it, referencing a sorted past. Wendy is shown in contemplation of her grandpa’s hand, and it is ambiguous as to whether or not she’s actually going to reach up and touch his hand. I think that this image highlights the family dynamic, more specifically the relationship between Wendy and Pike.

And that’s all for now folks, stay tuned for details as this develops.

(PS: the final painting post is {here}, and the published book post is {here!}

4 Responses to Merry Christmas… now get to work!

  1. Looking great so far Brian! Can't wait to see how this progresses!!

    Happy New Year!!


  2. […] Here is the progression from one of the initial concepts to final sketch. I was initially drawn to this concept for it’s graphic quality. I liked the stark tree as an emblem of this character’s family tree, that it would be desolate, broken, and dark, it’s seen dormant during the wintertime. While the story’s main character is actually Pike { for whom the book is named }, the character of the estranged grand-daughter, Wendy, is actually the epicenter of the story. She provides the touch stone between the main character and the mystery of his daughter’s death. You can read more about my initial thoughts from the first blog post here. […]

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