This drawing was commissioned by Halle Butler, intended to become the cover for her first novel, Jillian. The finished copy was to be printed in B&W with gold overlay, filling in the monster spots and pupils, in homage to this cover illustration for Grendel. Here's a digital mockup of the complete design. Imagine the book's spine meeting the right elbow of the crouching monster.
Halle and I met over a year ago to discuss themes and generate ideas. Halle is a good friend; she performed one of the funniest Brain Frame readings ever and we've worked on several films together. She co-wrote Crimes Against Humanity, the feature in which I recently starred. Her work is deceptively mundane, cruel, and hilarious. Jillian is about two miserable female coworkers. As described online:
Halle Butler's debut explores how two people use self-deception and hostility to deal with their lives. Megan, a bitter young medical secretary, takes a break from her overwhelming feelings of social rejection by keeping track of the disgusting habits of her co-worker, Jillian. Meanwhile, Jillian's misguided "go for it!" attitude leads her towards a series of unadvisable decisions.
We settled on two monsters, one lactating and wailing in pain, the other defensive and furious. I sketched several options, carefully considering what should be most visible on the book's spine.
After settling on a composition, I invited Robin Hustle over to model with me. We had a good time contorting our faces and bodies for the camera. Hilarious nude photo shoots are a favorite pastime.
Defining musculature through imagined fur is difficult! It took a long time just to get the poses right. (That crouching pose? Actually impossible.) Once I had the bodies plotted and spots blocked in I began shaping their sub-structures, including genitalia.
I used five different pencils. A 2B mechanical and four wooden pencils, 3-6B. These are the same pencils I use to draw Possession Scenes. When I showed the drawing in progress to Jeremy he said, "Is that your face?"
The completed cover, while treasured by Halle and myself, has proven problematic. The original distributor, Love Symbol Press, dissolved while plans for the book were in progress. Halle pushed her successive distributer, Cubside Splendor, hard to publish this cover, but they declined. Maybe someday, my monsters will see the light. If you saw this book on the shelf, would you scream, or buy it, or both?