Friday, October 2, 2009
I think books are, by design, meant to evoke visuals. When reading a book, images come to mind, and some images seem to communicate on a few levels at once, a bit like metaphors: They encompass the soul or spirit or the grand concept of the text as well as being a moment in the plot. In the reading process it is these exact moments that I aim to distill into a visual.
From there, I start with visual research that is as specific as I can get. In this case, with the cemeteries of Colma.
During the sketch stage, I explored two directions, both taking place in a cemetery at night. The first was of the protagonist, Michael Mercer, tucked right under the horizon line while aiming his flashlight towards the ground. The idea was that his whole attention and body language are directed downwards, into a world or a reality that exists "underground" (an intentional visual pun to conjure the buried dead, much like the ghost scene existing under the surface of the book's reality). And as a detective, Mercer's job is to dig up the unknown, the hidden, the buried.
The second sketch is of Mercer coming from the edge of the frame and illuminating the surroundings with a bright light at the center. But with Art Director Lisa Amoroso's guidance, a third option emerged that we thought was the most compelling and thus became the cover.
On the cover, Mercer is a dynamic element, yet compositionally his figure is mostly "under-ground"-the implication is that he is stuck in a mass of black soil and digging downwards, searching for answers (both professional and personal). I wanted to preserve something of the original concept while communicating both the drama of a detective thriller and suggesting its unlikely context.
--Tomer Hanuka, Alive in Necropolis cover illustrator