We’re in the homestretch with “Calvin Cobb: Radio Woodworker! A Novel with Measured Drawings.” Whew!
Today, I’m finishing the final full text edit and talking with the designer, Linda Watts, about the layout of the interior images and measured drawings (Linda, if you’re reading this, call me).
But perhaps most exciting is that I now know what Calvin and Verdie look like…because we’re nearing the finish line on the cover art. The cover I shared a few months ago? We couldn’t get the rights to manipulate the 1930s image – so we started over with a clean slate.
In hindsight, I’m glad; that gave us the freedom to present Calvin exactly as he appeared in Roy’s head (or at least the artist’s interpretation of how Calvin appeared in Roy’s head), and add other elements from the book to truly represent the story. (After all, despite the hoary saying, people often judge a book by its cover – so why not make it as perfect as possible?!)
We’ve been working with Jode Thompson, an illustrator based in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, whose other clients include Tylenol, Coca-Cola and Temptations Cat Treats (three things I buy regularly – how could I resist?).
While searching for an artist, I was looking for someone who could produce a 1930s noir detective novel look (think dark pin-up) with just enough of a graphic element to make it look 21st century. Jode’s work fit the bill in spades. And she nailed the treatment from the get-go, despite my crazy design brief:
So there’s this 1930s government employee who’s the supervisor of a group of women, all of whom are WWI veterans who are in some way disfigured by the war – and they’re all stronger than Calvin. They study manure. And there’s this femme fatal of sorts, Kathryn Dale Harper, with whom Calvin is kinda obsessed. She’s a radio star, and helps Calvin start his own radio show about woodworking. Oh – and Washington, D.C., is a character of sorts, as is Colonial Williamsburg. And Calvin has a shop in the clock tower of the office building where he works. It’s all sort of noir mixed with slapstick, and there’s a motorcycle. And it’s very funny. Calvin looks like Jon Cusack, Kathryn Dale Harper looks like Barbara Stanwyck and Verdie looks like Susan Sarandon (but with a prosthetic leg).
OK – it was more coherent than that.
Anyway, I thought you might like to see the short progression toward the final cover art. At the top of this post is the initial sketch.
After deciding on the first sketch, we wanted something that said “woodworking” and asked Jode to add the Washington Monument so the location was visually clear. So I asked her to add a dovetail saw in Calvin’s hand. Naturally, Jode chose a Veritas saw (she’s Canadian, after all). Nice saw … but not for the 1930s. And anyway, a dovetail saw proved too small. (Also, while I like the boots and helmet on Verdie, it was decided by the two parties involved who notice these sorts of things that high heels would be sexier.)
So Jode sent back a revision with a panel saw modeled after an early Disston model, heels and a title (we’re still mulling over the lettering style, and where to put Roy’s name).
Damn near perfect. At this point, Jode is working on the clothing for both Verdie and Calvin (to make it look a little more 1930s) and I’ll be talking with her soon about the lettering. In the meantime, she added a splash of color.
So in a few more days, we should have the cover illustration completed, the interior layout done, back cover copy written and the whole thing ready for final review. Then it’s off to the printer (casebound, smyth-sewn binding, acid-free paper, printed in the U.S.A., etc. etc.).
It should be WILL be in the Lost Art Press store before Thanksgiving (United States Thanksgiving, not Canadian Thanksgiving – sorry Jode).
— Megan Fitzpatrick