The Final Countdown

This morning’s off to a great start!

It’s been a full day since my Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins giveaway kicked in, and in the first day more than 200 copies have gone out. This lovely little streak has succeeded in pushing book one onto the top ten Kindle lists for YA/action-adventure and superhero novels (at positions four and two, respectively, as I write this).

I'm coming for you, Girl in the Box series!
I’m coming for you, Girl in the Box series!

A happy side-note to this: these blog posts auto-cross-post to Twitter, where several people I don’t know re-tweeted my tweet to spread the word. Thanks, perfect strangers!

I thought the day couldn’t get any more exciting, and then I checked my e-mail and found that my cover artist, Tricia Lupien, had finished the back cover. Now, you should understand that my concept was fairly simple: I wanted Missy (Kunoichi) holding the Libris Infernalis, the story’s MacGuffin, while Dr. Enigma loomed behind her ominously, hands glowing with magical energy.

Sounds a little dull, yeah? Well, this is what I got:

Doctor Enigma_sm

Say it with me: Ho. Lee. Shit.

I know from past experience Tricia’s color work is where her pieces really come to life, but this dropped my jaw. She promised me the back cover art would be a grabber, and she delivered in spades. Overall, the book two artwork is, in terms of attention-grabbing potential, leaps and bounds over the book one art. I am muchly pleased.

I am also pleased to announce that, assuming there are no further hiccups or corrections, set-up work on Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women will be completed within the next 24 hours, then it’s a matter of getting and checking my proof copy. We’re days away, people!

Cover Me!

The end of the novel creation process is somehow the most anxious, maybe because all the work on my end is done, and I’m left waiting for others to do their jobs — necessary, since my editor Tori and my cover artist Tricia have those…oh, what are they called again? Oh, yeah: lives. They have lives.

But when they start wrapping up their respective jobs? Oh, the thrills, the chills, then non-stop excitement!

Getting the cover art is probably my favorite part of the process. That’s when it really starts to feel like I’m creating something real.

AF Cover

When I conceived of the cover for the first novel, Secret Origins, an idea came to mind right away: I wanted to see Carrie, the main character, in front of her school locker, her superhero costume hanging in the background. I felt it nicely suggested the two main elements of the story, and Tricia nailed my concept right off.

Coming up with a concept for book two, Black Magic Women, proved a lot harder. I wanted the same kind of vibe, a cover that hinted at the story, but was not as vague and abstract as novel covers tend to be. I love the comic book cover vibe, and wanted to stick with that, but every concept I thought up simply didn’t work. The images were too weird, or would have made for a crowded, cluttered image.

Flummoxed with that particular approach, I scrapped it in favor of something a bit more iconic. Comic book covers have a lot of classic images that get recycled, homaged, and parodied over and over — the “hero cradles dead comrade against a background of mourning friends” image, as seen on Uncanny X-Men #136 and Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 come to mind — so I thought, why not try for something like that?molly-quinn-superman-unbound-wondercon

Tricia played around with a close-up shot of Carrie pulling open her shirt to reveal her costume underneath, a la Superman, but rejected that right off. “All it was was a boob shot,” she said, and she’s right, as the lovely and talented and delightfully geeky Molly C. Quinn (at right, obviously) demonstrates from a promotional appearance for Superman: Unbound.

Tricia moved on to a more generic, but still dynamic in-flight moment, capturing Carrie as she soars above the city. This was her rough:

AF Cover Draft 1

You know what I really like about this, and it’s a small but significant thing? Carrie’s proportions are realistic. She’s not some skinny, leggy supermodel type; she’s a teenage girl.

Tricia’s plan was to show Carrie soaring over Boston, and that rough with the city backdrop looked like this:

Cover Rough 2

For the next draft, Tricia went back to the main figure, to flesh her out some more.

Cover Rough 2

You can see that in this version, Carrie has a sash around her waist. I asked Tricia to lose that for two reasons: one, it was a little too Captain Marvel-esque, and I didn’t want to draw comparisons (I also did not want to step on Carol Danvers’ fashion toes; the sash is her thing); and two, I refer to Carrie wearing a more practical belt as part of the ensemble, something in which she can keep money and her phone. Besides, I like superhero outfits that embrace practicality. If you were wearing a skintight outfit, you’d want pockets too, right?

Tricia made the tweak, finished the inking, added color, and dropped in the background.

Cover Rough 3

Looking good! The next step was to add the color effects…

final front_nocover

And finally, the text, and voila! Behold, the fully finished cover art for Action Figures – Issue Two: Black Magic Women!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00009]

 

All that’s left now is for Tricia to finish up the back cover, and this baby is DONE!