This is the sort of thing I’m delighted to shout about, since in a way it had nothing to do with me. I’ve been blessed with pretty great cover artists – David Frankland for the Bookman books (and John Coulthart for the omnibus edition); my long time artist Pedro Marques, who does all my PS Publishing books, including that iconic Osama cover; Melissa Gay, whose did HebrewPunk and Jesus & The Eightfold Path; Marko Manev, whose superhero noir series led us to asking him to do the cover for The Violent Century; and more. Not to mention the artists I worked with on more collaborative work, like Neil Struthers on I Dream of Ants and Paul McCaffrey, who did Going To The Moon with me and is currently hard at work on our comic mini-series, Adler – every page of which looks absolutely amazing.
So it’s nice when the artists are recognised. Pedro’s Osama cover, in particular, won wide acclaim – it was nominated for awards in the UK and France, and was used as the cover for several subsequent editions, including the Spanish and German ones.
So I’m delighted to see that this year’s Kitschies award (for which I was once nominated for best novel, and which I won for my work on the World SF Blog a while back) has chosen the cover of A Man Lies Dreaming for its shortlist of best artwork (out of a very large field indeed!).
I remember Anne, my editor, knew exactly what she wanted for the cover. I wish I had her original sketch, but her brief was that they were prison bars, fragmenting towards the end, representing Shomer’s mind in Auschwitz. Those broken bars offer that promise of escape. I don’t think it was consciously, then, clear that the bars would also become representative – as they do in the final artwork, by Ben Summers – of the uniforms worn by the prisoners of Auschwitz’s. The cover is stark, minimal, black and white, with only the title standing out in a bold, bloodied red, overlaying, yet never escaping, the bars.
The book comes sans dustjacket. Usually, I prefer them, but in this case the overall design works so well that the book feels complete in itself. The physical object of the hardcover is beautiful, austere, and everything from the cover down to the internal layout and typography is carefully thought out and designed.
The best cover art, I think, is the one you don’t expect at all, but that when you see it, you realise it was the right one all along. I think that’s the case with the cover for A Man Lies Dreaming, and whether it wins the award or not next month, I am delighted with it.