Here’s what went into the decisions behind the cover and then the decisions behind creating the revised cover of Warblegrub & the Forbidden Planet, by Andrew Barlow.
In the first cover Andrew wanted to show whoever picked up the book that this was what they were getting themselves into. Andrew used a style similar to George Lucas’ Star Wars pastiche paintings as a way of showing the elements of the story the reader would encounter and allowing them to build it in their minds before they had opened the book. Your eye is drawn down the cover and you are immediately aware that space and spaceships are involved, some being is looking over everything and there are soldiers and several strange animals depicted, which must mean it’s a sci-fi!
‘With the first cover the observer is kept at a great distance,’ Andrew says. There are several levels in the pastiche and the perspective would place the onlooker in the bushes of a city, floating somewhere outside the atmosphere of Earth. A revision was considered to be more in tune with the story itself, to capture a moment of movement and depict the journey through the long-abandoned avenues of a
Andrew took the idea for this revised cover from the text itself (and with some influence from the Apocalypse Now style). The soldiers move through a world where nature has begun to renew in their absence and reclaim its dominance over the human world. The flowers, cobwebs, leaves and bracken frame the illustration, subtly showing the conflict between the crumbling human world and the spreading natural world swallowing it up.
The cracked skeletons of the buildings in front of the group of soldiers emotes the cold sense of their not belonging, almost like the abandoned ‘haunted house’ in your neighborhood that you wouldn’t dare enter. The staring eye is more positioned at the reader than the assembled group below. It is not meant to come across as menacing, but rather omnipotent melancholy. Everything is being watched and perhaps we’re not doing as much as we can.
So, does a picture tell 1,000 words and would you like to read the rest?