Cover art for THE GRAVE ROBBER'S DAUGHTER (2006) ~
After MAD NIGHT (see previous post), I did a second book featuring the character Judy Drood as the protagonist. This one was designed as leaner and more fast-paced than her debut, which I had worked on for about three years. In contrast, I did this one in less than six months. (For those interested, I discuss making this book in this 2007 interview with Tom Spurgeon :
My original intention was to put Judy on the cover again, right up front. The top image is my original line drawing, ink on watercolor paper, showing Judy being menaced by clowns while the title character, little Nellie Kelly, looks on. However, before I'd painted that version I decided it might seem a bit confusing and unfocused to a casual observer. (Not to mention somewhat cluttered once the title had been added at the top and the by-line placed in the bottom left corner).
So I did a second version, placing Nellie up front and taking out Judy altogether. I did do some sketches trying to work Judy into the background - but those ideas just wouldn't work with the small size (6" x 8") of the book. So, Judy went and I ended up taking out one of the clowns as well.
I immediately liked the effect that came from simply moving the small figure of Nellie to the front. Now the clowns were looming over her, mocking her with evil laughter, while she stands completely unruffled and without fear. That actually summed up her character much better than the first idea.
Judy does still show up on the cover -- although it's the back cover. The last image shows the original art for the back cover before all the text, prices and UPC box were added.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I've almost always created fake covers (stand-ins for whatever the final cover will be) for my books for the Norton book catalog because they need them so far in advance -- and this one was no exception. But, this time - sorry! - I'm choosing not to show it. Not only is it really bad and embarrassing, it illustrates an early version of the story where Nellie is a (red-headed) teen-ager being leered at by not only evil clowns, but an entire evil circus as well - ringmaster and all! But this little book was all about cutting the fat -- streamlining and getting down to the leanest and meanest details -- so, by the second draft, the evil circus folk all ended up on the cutting room floor - all except for (as Judy might say) those #@%!&*$!! clowns.