Last year I was hired to illustrate a picture book titled "The Death of Yorik Mortwell". How could I pass up a job with a title like that. When publishers think of me, they think of death. Or visa versa. Regardless of which way you look at it, I'm the "go to" guy for all things grim. The book, written by Stephen Messer, is a very fantastical and ghastly little gem. It was full of visual nuggets that inspired my grey matter to erupt in a fury of imagination. I enjoyed illustrating this book immensely. It is full of dead children, monsters from another dimension, tree and earth spirits and the macabre. The little correspondence I had with Stephen Messer was pleasant and we seemed to share a common goal for the look of the book. After all, Edward Gorey was a huge influence for us both. The art director on the project was also amazing and fought for me and my ideas.
So how is it that I am so completely irate with this book?
Just earlier today, I was looking up the release date for one of my books on Amazon. While scrolling through the cover icons, I came across a vertical rectangle that looked like a sample of Rainbow Brite's vomit. I clicked on the image to find out it was the cover of "The Death of Yorik Mortwell" to be released later this fall. My heart dropped. This is not my cover, nor is it a cover that I approved.
There were other illustrations in the book that I had to change because my vision was different than that of the author. I'll be honest. I'm stubborn like a mule and I fight to get my way. But I don't throw a tantrum when things don't work in my favor as long as what is compromised on is successful. This on the other hand is appalling. My name is on the book and it looks like it was part of a grocery store coloring contest. That makes me look completely unprofessional. I don't want this representing my resume.
Maybe I'm missing something. It happens from time to time. Maybe there's an upcoming hippie trend on the rise with teenagers. When you hear "The Death of Yorik Mortwell" do you think of woodstock? I sure don't.
So here is my classic cover, the way I envisioned it to be printed, for you to enjoy digitally. And if you disagree and find the Skittles inspired color palette a more appealing, commercial or artistic approach...then please...put me in my place.
These things will be the death of me.