Book post: Lauren Dixon!

One thing about this year is that the post has regained the element of surprise. The paperback and limited hardback of Lauren Dixon’s Welcome to the Bitch Bubble (with cover art by me) arrived this week — just as bubble-gum-and-bones as hoped.

Tiny little skeletons

The collection, per Hydra House, is “of stories both published and unpublished, including “Double Dutch,” “Floating Feathers, Red Wings and Wild,” “Sheela of the Good Shepherd,” “If You Can’t Take the Heat, Don’t Hire a Yeti,” and many others. Her fiction walks the line between the strange, the weird, and the humorous, often in unsettling ways.” Which is about right. But also, Death wears a sundress.

I put up a process post earlier in the year — this, too, is a cut-paper silhouette, but it went through a few iterations: Cover art process: Welcome to the Bitch Bubble.


Observation journal: werewolf conferences and colour treatments


This is the format of the observation journal as it developed. I keep it in my general notebook for convenience. For those who wish to know, it’s a large squared Moleskine, indexed on bullet-journal principles.

(I don’t usually colour or ornament my notebooks, except for the observation pages).

Left Page

The left pages are based (as previously mentioned) on one of Lynda Barry’s notebook exercises with her class, in her intense and splendid Syllabus: Five things seen, heard, and done, and a picture (scribble, diagram, mud-map) of something from the day.

Its original purpose was just to practice noticing, (and give my class a way to actually fill the pages of their journal), but later it got folded into more activities.

Right Page

The right page is for anything else, as long as there’s an element of creativity and reflection — I send the class a list of thematically-related possibilities each week, but it’s meant to be free-form (I wasn’t leaning into the reflection too heavily at this stage).

The activity here was to take something from my day and apply it to a few current preoccupations.

In this case, the central thing was a dream about accidentally crashing a warlock-werewolf meeting (I was on strong painkillers). You can see here I was thinking about:

  • Upper left: Themes of exclusion and secrecy I’d been enjoying, and how that might be relevant to a research project.
  • Upper right: The sense of observing things unexpectedly, and how to apply that to being creative.
  • Lower left: A book cover project I was wrestling with, to which the atmosphere of the dream seemed relevant.
  • Lower right: A few notes on the colours in the dream, and then whether I could apply that to an illustrated project. This started off the train of thought that led to the page where I insulted my favourite watercolours.


These colours remind me of the pencils in Sarah, Plain and Tall

Here’s the next day’s pages, too (it was a very exciting day: I was still laid up but the ladies who came to clean brought a cage of puppies).

On the right, the activity was the simple one of coming up with 20 solutions for a problem — in this case, how to bring together competing considerations for the colour treatment on the cover of Lauren Dixon’s Welcome to the Bitch Bubble (here’s the cover process post and the preorder link — it comes on on 12 May!).


Cover art process: Welcome to the Bitch Bubble

FirstCurrent events have made it a little tricky for authors & publishers to celebrate new books and get them to you. This book comes out in May, but is available for preorder now. Please consider doing so!

A month ago, Lauren Dixon and Hydra House Books announced the cover for her new collection, Welcome to the Bitch Bubble.

The process for this one began with a breakfast conversation at the World Fantasy Convention hotel in LA in 2019.

From there, I received the manuscript and worked through it, thinking of treatments (how best to capture vigour vs whimsy, how to handle colour vis-a-vis the title, etc).

As usual, I made some accordion-fold sheets of drawing paper and drew my way through the stories, catching images that were particularly resonant.


And, of course, getting distracted by skeletons in sundresses. Here I am making a cyanotype print of the cutout.


(You can also see, above, that I was playing with some of the silhouette treatments I tried at the Illustration Master Class.)

Using these, I put together the initial thumbnail-sketched ideas. You can see me working to find a synthesis between my usual gentler style and the raw aggression of some of Lauren Dixon’s writing!


Lauren and Tod came back with their thoughts on direction and colour, and from those I put together the next set of more detailed sketches. You can see how elements of the different thumbnails were recombined.


The sketches above were for the idea that was always the frontrunner, but there were a couple of others we liked, so I played with them too (presumably avoiding other deadlines).


I still really like those hair legs and would like to do a cover with them!

After that, I enlarged the sketch and used it as a rough base to make the more detailed final pencil drawing. This is the stage where all the strands and leaves and limbs have to link so that they hold together when I cut them out.


I then used those pencils to trace down the lines onto black paper (remembering to flip them! I don’t always remember to do this), and cut them out.


Once the silhouette was cut out and scanned, we kept trying out different combinations of colour and texture (the more gleeful of us clamouring for garishness, the more sober attempting to rein us in).


And then, over to Tod (of Hydra House) to bring it home!


Welcome to the Bitch Bubble is available for preorder now, and given what current events are doing to launches, conventions, bookstores, etc, it would be great if — if this sounds at all like your sort of book! — you’d consider preordering through the links here or a good independent bookstore near you.

Welcome to Lauren Dixon’s new collection


A new cover is out in the world! Welcome to the Bitch Bubble, a collection of stories by Lauren Dixon, is now available for preorder (consult your local bookstore, but failing one of those, see also B&N, Amazon), and will be published by Hydra House 12 May 2020.

The collection, per Hydra House, is “of stories both published and unpublished, including “Double Dutch,” “Floating Feathers, Red Wings and Wild,” “Sheela of the Good Shepherd,” “If You Can’t Take the Heat, Don’t Hire a Yeti,” and many others. Her fiction walks the line between the strange, the weird, and the humorous, often in unsettling ways.”

I’ll put up a process post a bit later (patrons have been seeing this in stages), closer to the release date, but here is a cyanotype test of the skeleton in a sundress.


Oh, and it’s a full cover. Cover type by Andy Romine.