Monday 8 October 2012

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A Novel Cover Up: James Weinberg on The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

A Novel Cover Up

A Novel Cover Up is a semi-regular feature that looks at how covers are made. Thanks to Candlewick Press, I have been fortunate enough to interview illustrator James Weinberg about how he designed the cover for The Infects by Sean Beaudoin, as part of The Infects Blog Tour. Other than the cover, all images in this post are copyrighted to James Weinberg and used with permission, and can be clicked to enlarge.

The Infects by Sean BeaudoinCan you tell us about the cover for The Infects? What do you hope it tells readers about the story?

The cover is a graphic of a skull that is a Rorschach made up of chickens and reaching hands. The illustration of the chicken on top of the skull lets you know this is horror with some humor mixed in. We had some feedback that was along the lines of "What's up with the chickens?" to which my response is: exactly. I want to let the reader know that when they pick up Sean's book they are in for a nutty ride.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?

Good question and I don't know how to answer that - I do not know where ideas come from.

What were you given to base your ideas on? Did you have a manuscript, or were you given an outline?

I read a preliminary manuscript, and I am always thrilled when I get a book that is so fun and dynamic. The author shared some samples of images he liked from some other books and band posters. I got a sense that he was responding to bold graphics. I do some silkscreen posters too so I kind of thought of it as I do poster art.

What went into creating the cover for The Infects? Can you tell us about the process? Who else was involved?

The cover design I illustrated using scanned drawings that I then tweaked in Photoshop. My illustration style tends to use texture and have a hand-done quality. To get that kind of look I created the title on the computer, then printed it out and blew it up on a Xerox machine so it had rough edges and did not look so digital, and I added texture. We have to go on rounds of approvals internally with sales and the editor, Liz Bicknell, so once I got the idea it took some back and forth to get it to the right spot.

What do you like most about this cover?

I like how the skull looks like those campy glow in the dark stickers I used to have when I was a kid. I like the textures, too. One thing that I was happy with is that it gives you a sense of the genre without the usual images like the stumbling zombie in shredded clothing.

Were there any other early ideas for the cover? Why didn’t they make it?

There was plenty of exploration and a few concepts that didn't make the cut. There was one that had a reaching corpse hand coming out of the woods, which was more of a nod to zombie images like in the movie The Evil Dead. Although that did not make it, I really liked the title treatment so I used that similar look for the red dots coming from the eyes.

The Infects Concept Piece

Thanks for your interest in the process and hope you enjoy the book.

Thank you, James, for such an interesting interview! How awesome are both of those covers?! So eye-catching!

James Weinberg is a designer, illustrator and artist based out of Somerville, Massachusetts. Inspired by natural history, folk-art, silkscreen printing, printed ephemera, op-art, and old advertisements, his work has appeared on a variety of book jackets  posters and music packaging. Using silkscreen printing, he also creates custom invitations and announcements. His work has been featured in the AIGA BONE show and 50 Books/50 Covers.

Be sure to check out James' website and The Infects by Sean Beaudoin, which was released on 25th September!

Enjoyed this post? Then check out the previous A Novel Cover Up posts.


  1. Ooooh, I LOVE this interview, and I LOOOOOVE the cover.

    Also seriously loved hearing about the technical side, that it is actually a raster drawing, and not a vector illustration and what not, which I assumed... I'm kind of learning exciting techniques. I do SOME print work, but my background's in web graphics, so learning ANYTHING new about print is exciting :D

    Also: THE EVIL DEAD!!! Love the letter treatment on the second cover, but seriously, the actual cover? SO GORGEOUS! Also fantastic hearing the author was involved in the process :)

    1. Oh wow, Sarah, you are a smart woman. Smarter than me, because I have no idea what you said in your second paragraph. Haha! I know nothing about this kind of thing, but it's great to see you read something in the interview that I didn't, because you know that stuff :)

      I love both covers, I think they're awesome! There are some seriously talented people out there :)

  2. Wow...these covers are so cool! And so befitting for the time of year!

  3. that looks really good the cover is amazing really eye catching and pops very well. =]

    1. It's such a great cover! Glad you enjoyed the post! :)