When I was finishing HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS for Simon & Schuster, everything had been done except the cover. On a trip to New York, delivering the last of the interior art, I stopped in at the Barnes & Noble at Rock Center to look over the newest books and get a few ideas about what was popular – and my heart sank. It was all gauzy, soft-focus color, made to resemble traditional painting, and it was miles away from the kind of work I did. Worse, it seemed like all the books had covers like that.
I went upstairs for my meetings, and right away, my Art Director, Lizzy Bromley, could tell something was wrong. I explained to her what I was worried about, and told her that I’d looked at all of the very painterly covers on the books – and I realized I can’t do that kind of stuff. My work, pen and inkwork with color on top, would look like something completely different than everything else out there.
“James,” she said, smiling and putting a comforting arm around me, “that’s one of the reasons we bought your book.”
After several false starts with too much input from too many people, I told everyone I was unplugging my phone and going to draw the cover. Over three days, on a drafting table in front of my fireplace, I created the illustration below. The color version, Art Directed by Lizzy, took a Gold Medal at the New York Book Awards. 🙂
I have five artist proof prints of the original cover illustration, “The Green Dragon,”, and five artist proof prints of the second most popular print, the old Dragon “Samaranth,” (whom I described to my editor as being John Steed from the British TV show The Avengers as a Chinese Dragon) available for sale, right now, here, at the Coppervale Marketplace. I’ll have five more of each with me at the LTUE Symposium in Utah this week. Everyone needs some Dragon art on their walls – and these are two of my best, created at one of the best times of my life. Choose your Dragon, and bring some of that magic into yours.