Okay, I said my piece about Stephen Blackmoore's fantastic CITY OF THE LOST (cough cough out January 3rd go buy it cough cough) the other day, but as promised, Stephen's here to give us an up-close-and-personal glimpse into the making thereof. So, without further ado, here's the man himself...
Did you know CITY OF THE LOST is a picture book?
It is. Sort of.
Back in 2006 or so I caught a glimpse of CRIMINAL: COWARD, a comic written by Ed Brubaker with artwork by Sean Phillips. Grabbed me from the first panel. Brubaker's writing is top notch, but Phillips' artwork really sells it. Calling it gritty doesn't do it justice.
I'm not able to keep up with comics as much as I'd like and though I've since read the rest of them it took me a while to get back there. But those images from that first run of CRIMINAL stuck with me.
My novel, CITY OF THE LOST is a book about Joe Sunday, a two-bit thug who gets killed and brought back to life. Things go downhill from there.
It's being called a dark urban fantasy but I still have trouble seeing it that way. I wrote it as a noir novel with horror and fantasy in it. It's a crime novel first and a fantasy second, not the other way around. I liked the idea of a cover that reflected that. Something that showed L.A.'s sunshine brand of noir, something with some rough edges and harsh lighting. Something that caught a little bit of the bad crazy that I was going for in the novel.
When it came time to talk about cover art my editor somehow managed to read my mind and say she was thinking of getting a comic artist to do it and did I have anybody in mind.
I didn't hesitate. I said Sean Phillips.
Now Phillips has done BATMAN: GOTHAM NOIR, SLEEPER, working on a horror noir book with Ed Brubaker called FATALE, which drops January 4th, by the way. Guy's got more things than I can name.
He has light and shadow down cold. His latest CRIMINAL: LAST OF THE INNOCENT is a fucking masterwork. In the geek hierarchy I'm nobody. He's so far above me I can't even see the soles of his shoes.
So I figured, nice suggestion but there's no way in hell I'm getting Sean fucking Phillips to do my cover.
And then I got an email saying that I got Sean fucking Phillips to do my cover.
And then, because my geek heart hadn't entirely seized up, my editor said, "He's going to do some internal illustrations for the book, too."
So not only did I get the cover artist I wanted, but he was going to do some black and white illustrations.
And Jesus Christ did he knock 'em out of the park.
The thing about his work on this that I particularly liked is that he didn't see the characters exactly like I did. Damn close, but not exact. And I love that. He picked up on my descriptions and depicted those characters in a way that never occurred to me.
Here's an example. The cover. It's a wrap-around image that I think really captures the essence of the book. There's no scene with Joe Sunday walking around Hollywood Boulevard with a gaping chest wound in the novel. But at the same time that's exactly what he's doing.
The harsh lighting, the burnt-out palm trees, the massive hole in Joe Sunday's chest you can see the traffic sign through. That's the book right there.
Now I'm not going to show you the internal pics. They're kind of spoilery.
But I will say this, Sean Phillips draws some mean motherfuckers and when somebody gets their head blown off in Chapter 4, well, he's got one hell of a point of view on that.
Thanks to Mr. Holm for letting me squat on his bloggy real estate. Even if that does sound kind of gross.
So there you have it. And if you think that cover's gorgeous, just wait until you get a load of what's inside. (If you don't think that cover's gorgeous, there's nothing to be done for you. It is, and that's that.) CITY OF THE LOST will be available at any bookstore worth its salt come January 3rd.