Being asked to illustrate book jackets is always great… well, because then I get to read the story first. Awesome. And when Fox Spirit were kind enough to send a copy of Graham Wynd’s – Kate Laity’s, ahem – ‘Extricate’ novel my way, with the promise of kinky-crime-noir, well, who could say no?
Extricate is a violent tale of sexual obsession, unfolding on the dark streets of a nowhere town. Peter falls for Judy the instant he lights her cigarette, but she’s his best mate’s girl — and he’s already married. He decides to begin removing obstacles — starting with his wife. How far will he be willing to go? How far does lifelong friendship go when he finally meets the woman of his peculiar dreams?
So a sizzling tale of crime, intrigue and sexual tension calls for the some hot dames courtesy of the wonderful world of pulp fiction. And with such a great legacy of visual art to call upon – Pulp Covers has a particularly cool selection – we ended up with one of these…
Edited by the very foxy Adele Wearing, find out more about this sexy little number over at Fox Spirit Books! And if you’d like some more of the very talented Graham Wynd to read, you should really say hello to the mighty Ms Kate Laity!
Den Patrick created one of these. Awesome work Den. The peculiar little guy is The Fizzy Pop Vampire. For the most part he steals lemonade, cupcakes and hunts about for a new set of teeth. Poor dental hygiene, you see.
You can read more about him on your iPad. He’s actually a children’s book. Oh, and he has a best friend call Keith. Keith is a giraffe.
There’s also some penguins involved but, anyway, concerns with loosing your travel pass, or credit card, are clearly always a huge worry for vampires. Erm, really. Ahem. So we thought a Fizzy Pop Vampire Travel Card Holder was just the very thing. And not to mention that I love drawing the tiny vampire.Obviously, having no idea what I’m doing, massive help was needed. Very kindly on hand was Matt JOnes aka Lunartik. Awesome. Templates arrive. Packaging instructions appeared in inboxes. And it kinda looks a breeze but managing to get your design down on a card holder, so the pass and the packing works – with a 3mm print bleed – involves a lot of Jaffa Cakes. Nobody will be impressed, right, if you inadvertently chop off a giraffes head.
But several weeks of burning the midnight oil later there’s three finished pass illustrations and a packaging design. The cards pop outta the card holder so, a bit weirdly, you need to come up with a plan so the card looks good in the packaging, when it’s pushed out and when the design is folded in half to make the holder. And, generally, I’m not used to folk needing to fold my artwork in half.
Well, Den is good, Matt approves, so The Fizzy Pop Vampire then goes to Berlin to get printed up. And I get to worry about missing giraffe heads until a huge box turns up from Germany. And… AND… they’re all okay. Passes work, no ghastly typos, full compliment of giraffes. Phew.
Who’s sneaking into the kitchen? The Fizzy Pop Vampire of course. He’s stealing your lemonade. Watch out! And tiny, sweet toothed vampires can’t be trusted with cupcakes one bit.
But the little guy would just love to help keep all your cards safe. Really, he would. So now your can travel in style with these very cool Fizzy Pop Vampire Card Holder Wallets. They’re all ready to pop your pass into!
Designed for your oyster, business and credit cards they’re perfect for art lovers on the go and make a lovely gift.
Now on sale at the Tate Modern, Satchi Gallery and Forbidden Planet right here. And if you fancy set of Series 5 Art Passes – there’s a Mr Fizz design in there too – you should go straight off to visit Mr Jone’s at lovely Lunartik Store.
Hugs all round!
Through a city torn apart by a violence they cannot comprehend, three disparate people—a documentary film-maker, a yeshiva student, and a psychotic fireman—must try to survive, and try to find meaning: even if it means being lost themselves. As Tel Aviv is consumed, a strange mountain rises at the heart of the city, and shows the outline of what may be another, alien world beyond. Can there be redemption there? Can the fevered rumours of a coming messiah be true?
As the city loses contact with the outside world and closes in on itself, as the few surviving children play and scavenge in the ruins, can innocence survive, and is it possible for hope to spring amid such chaos?
A potent mixture of biblical allusions, Lovecraftian echoes, science fiction and contemporary culture, The Tel Aviv Dossier is part supernatural thriller, part meditation on the nature of belief—an original and involving novel painted on a vast canvas in which, beneath the despair, humour is never absent.
And it needs a new cover.
Well there’s almost too much good stuff to illustrate. Crazy-ass mountains appearing, spooky secret papers, Lovecraftian undertones, gods and psychotic firemen. Wow. But this is digital – the book is going to be spending a lot of time being a teeny tiny thumbnail – so something clean and clear with the graphics was required.
The brief was ‘secret dossier, anything you like’ and, if you take a little look, there’s a theme of swirly smoke running across a lot of Lavies’ covers… so swirly smoke. Lots of swirly smoke.
I tried to keep the title and author names really clear and liked the idea of there being a sinister, smoking folder of, well, who knows what weird stuff. Everybody was good with that – thankfully – but Mr Tidhar wanted the dossier to look rather battered about and used. So the picture of the folder got itself ‘photoshop tattered around’ and the idea of adding a tea/coffee stain came up.
Loved the idea and a lot of time has been spent weighing up the virtues of ‘coffee ring version’ vs ‘coffee splodge version’. Splodge won out in the end – huzzah, as I preferred that design – and nobody, erm, apart from me, was seriously going to go with the shocking pink.
The Tel Aviv Dossier is available from Amazon righty here!
Fox Pockets! Small but perfectly formed collections of stories by a den full of talented writers, put together by Fox Spirit books for your enjoyment.
The stories are flash fiction, giving the reader bite sized introductions to Fox Spirit and the writers we love to work with. All designed to fit perfectly into the pocket so you can take a little fox with you everywhere you go.
Stories in Fox Pockets will wander unfettered between genres, mixing horror, fantasy, science fiction and crime.
Cover art is by the talented and fabulous Sarah Anne Langton who is working to create an image for the collection as well as giving each book its own identity.
Well, that’s very kind of Aunty Fox to say so but ten books? TEN BOOKS? That’s a lotta pixels. Exciting an’ scary… in equal measure. And when so many authors are going to be spending so much time scribbling away for these anthologies? I feel the least I can do is try and give them a snappy package for their work to be showcased in.
So I needed to find some sort of identity for the little foxy guys. ‘Foxes’ and ‘pockets’ are a good starting point – love the name – and who doesn’t like foxes, right? But visually I wanted them to be instantly recognisable. So you didn’t even have to look at the copy on the cover. Well, Penguin Books are the past masters of this. Beautiful, clean design. Breathtakingly stylish. Whether it’s their 1950′s collections, or their more contemporary titles, the books pictorial ownership is always striking. So that seemed like a good starting point. Plan.
Well, much googling and getting distracted by shoes an’ Hello Kitty later… Work. Actual work.
The basic grid I decided to used for the Fox Spirit jackets is a tweaked version of Penguin’s early 1960′s science fiction range. It’s a very deliberate nod to how much I adore their graphic design work. Classy, minimal, wonderfully understated. And I love their use of modern art as the perfect accompaniment to the science fiction genre. Penguin’s covers came with an abstract, surrealist tone. A subtle hint of Op Art, a little bit of Pop Art. Not an oil painting of a space station insight. Science fiction and fantasy speak to us of other worlds and other possibilities. Magic. Magick. When ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’. So I’ve always felt that publishers reliance on – however beautifully executed – traditional illustration for their science fiction/fantasy publications is often not actually as interesting, or innovative, as the titles content itself.
So I liked the feel of working on something visually contemporary. Something that – hopefully – looked like a cool book to take a look at… regardless of any particular interest you may have in genre fiction. And I’ve always admired that Small Press folk have a kinda post-punk ‘do it yourself’ attitude towards publishing. We love books so we’re gonna print books. Nice. A lot of acid colours on black, with with reversed out, décollage images used for Fox Spirits covers come with very a big element CBGB style visuals. I felt that was, in a way, a nice fit. Same principles just applied to the printed word instead. And, as interpretation of the anthology titles left a whole world of creative options open, there’s deliberately a graphic ‘feel’ for each title, rather than any distinct, single image. Hidden away in the illustrations there’s everything from Voodoo veves to Glastonbury Tor – just to try an’ keep all bases covered.
The repeat theme of the fox logo and layout hopefully ties all the images together.
And, publishing should always be fun too, pop the all the covers together and a tiny fox spirit has run across the books, leaving a trail of little paw prints…
Den Patrick‘s wonderful stories of pirates an’ dreams – ‘Tales Of Jago Fox’ – run across the entire anthology – so they totally deserved a poster of their own…
If you’d like to write for one of these wondrous little publications submissions for the later titles are still open at Fox Spirit right here.
And if you’d like to pop a fox in your pocket – and who wouldn’t – the first of these foxy- paperback-publishing gems is available at Amazon and Lulu featuring amazing tales of piracy from Den Patrick, Catherine Hill, Kit Marlowe, Rahne Sinclair, Chloe Yates, Jenny Barber, Margrét Helgadóttir, Francesca Terminiello, Christian D’Amico, T.F.Grant, Rob Haines, Ruth Booth, Asher Wismer, Emma Teichmann, K.C.Shaw and S.J.Caunt.
All wonderfully edited by the terribley foxy Adele Wearing!