Evolution of a Cover–THESE DEAD LANDS: DESOLATION
Just a quick ditty to provide some incubating eye candy for the next installment of the These Dead Lands series. For those of you who read These Dead Lands: Immolation, then you know that the lightfighters basically split into two groups: Captain Hastings left with the rest of the active duty troops to blaze a path to Fort Bragg, while SFC Ballantine, Guerra, Hoffman, Reader, Tharinger, and some dude named Stilley boarded a train with the dependents and the remnants of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard to roll hot to Fort Carson. Keeping with the last hook as the theme for the cover, Wolf and I went to Marc Lee once again with the following elements: give us a battle train blasting through the dead.
Kind of cool, but there are no Little Birds in the picture as of yet (though they are coming, I’ll hasten to add–I would be remiss for not bringing the Night Stalkers of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment into the zombie apocalypse), and visually, it just didn’t have the same pop as the first cover did.
This one had more tension to it, but again, it’s not exactly a frantic as we’d like it to be. We were beginning to realize that an element such as a train, which is generally really long on the horizontal axis, wasn’t going to work for a book cover, which is a more vertical medium. We just didn’t think we’d be able to capture everything we wanted in a way that would be as powerful as the first book’s cover art was. I mean, the above work was very close to being bang-on from my perspective, but once title graphics were laid in, they’d obscure several elements and water down the impact.
Wolf felt even more strongly that a change in direction was required, and he wanted something that more directly referenced the title–like we’re all alone in this shit, and the world’s going to hell. He was always interested in a theme with a single soldier taking on the horde; in his mind, it would be a kind of parable to Hastings’s emotional destruction over losing his family. Focusing on that–and on the fact that Chinooks rarely appear in book covers–the next design is the one we decided to go with:
Still a bunch of work to be done here, but it kind of fits the bill. Marc will be doing the requisite body-and-fender work to bring it into shape, but if nothing else, you can hardly say it’s static and boring. 🙂