Borscht! (rough sketch)
A series of very beautiful things have been arriving in my mailbox, and it is about time to start showing them to you. The first is Anna Tambour’s exceedingly odd, headlong, culinary railway fable Crandolin, from Chômu Press. This rich and perfect cover is by Christopher Conn Askew:

Crandolin-Front-Cover-AskewAnna and I have plans to do something together one day. This was almost it, twice. The first time, time was too tight. The second, the book was ready to publish and the cover was at stake. The book is rather difficult to quantify, and I had read it previously, so agreed to try my hand (knowing the possibility it might not be used – don’t worry, all was fair and above board). I still like my design as an illustration, but Askew has captured the book far better – that shade of red, the twinned images, the feeling of the label of expensive nougat, or a rare olive oil. Mine by contrast is much more, well, Little Golden Book. But here is its history anyway, because I don’t draw donkeys much and hate to waste them.

First are two little stylistic try-outs: the girl with the cake is in scratchboard, the violent lady is pencil, both with digital colour.

WIP - ScratchboardLady MacBeth

I did several sketches, based on some suggestions and inspirations the author and publisher had sent me. I’d still like to do something in this style:

Cover concepts

But this is the direction we went in:

Cover concepts

And here, after exploring the depths of the internet (Russian model ship building websites) for a clue as to the rest of a font glimpsed on a four-letter station sign, and calls with Anna regarding the emotions proper to donkeys, is the cover (with crop marks, etc, as it wasn’t finally finalised).

Cover (unused)

I still like it, as a piece and as a piece of the story. Askew’s, however, is ideal.

But they did let me have an after-the-credit feature. At the back of the book, when you buy it, you will find three cold passengers still crying for borscht.