One of the aspects of writing for Black Library that I especially like is working with other creative people. For my money, editors are the unsung heroes of the publishing process but it’s good for an author to remember there are a whole host of creative people who work hard to ensure that a piece of published fiction is a success. The people right at the vanguard of the whole process are the front cover artists and I particularly like working with them. There is something pretty magical about sending an artist narrative background material and samples of text and then - some time later - seeing that material interpreted in a piece of artistically-rendered genius. This process works in reverse, of course, when writers look to pieces of art for inspiration. The reason why artists are at the vanguard of the publishing process is because - beyond the text title - the front cover artwork prompts the readers’ first emotional reaction to the text. This happens on the bookshop shelf and also on the internet. The front cover art is the ambassador for the text, setting a tone and working hard to create initial interest and expectation.
On this blog I have spoken about the fantastic work of Stefan Kopinski. Stefan was responsible for Atlas Infernal’s atmospheric and evocative front cover. Stefan really tapped into the novel’s ‘Eye-of-Terror’ dark insanity. He also effectively gave Czevak his official 'face'. I talk a little more about Stefan and his work here and his website can be found here. Jon Sullivan worked on the cover for my first novel, Redemption Corps. Jon was spot on with the material I supplied at the same time as conveying the raw, indomitability behind Major Mortensen’s every word and action. I really feel for artists, however, when the reader misses out on the full glory of their work. Often a piece of art is significantly cropped in order to serve the needs of the cover. This is often necessary but still sad. Here, for instance is Jon’s uncropped piece of art for Redemption Corps and here is Stefan's for Atlas Infernal. Even if you own the novels (and I hope you do) the imaginative detail and skill are certainly worth a second look.
Jon Sullivan produces the artwork for the covers of the Space Marine Battles series and always does a brilliant job. His website can be found here. I was lucky enough to be working with Jon again on Legion of the Damned. He excelled himself again, rendering the accursed crusaders of the Damned Legion in glorious spectre-colour (rather than Technicolor) detail. There are several elements to admire in the full artwork for the cover. Legion of the Damned takes place on the cemetery world of Certus-Minor, and Jon did a great job of representing the dour, funereal stone of the landscape and distant city. The invading force of the Cholercaust Blood Crusade numbers innumerable Khornate cultists, Traitor Space Marines and monstrous daemons, is represented in Jon’s artwork by an attacking horde of willowy, vicious Bloodletters and Furies. The Legion of the Damned are obviously the centrepiece of the artwork and cover. I adore what Jon has done with these spectral warriors. They must appear brutally corporal at the same time as otherworldly and ethereal. Firepower from the grave! Jon totally pulled this off. My favourite aspect of the piece is the golden flame with which each Damned Legionnaire is imbued. The representations here don’t really do the full piece of artwork justice. I invite you to examine it in its full glory here.
I think that it’s also appropriate to pay homage to some of the great amateur Warhammer 40K artwork on the internet. I am not above showcasing such talent on the blog and similarly respect the skill and imagination such work requires. Keep it coming!
Seven Days of Damnation: Day 1
Seven Days of Damnation: Day 2 - Game On!
Seven Days of Damnation: Day 3 - New Skin
Seven Days of Damnation: Day 4 - Damnation's Calling
Seven Days of Damnation: Day 6 - Legion of the Damned Extract