I noticed that Josh Berk's novel, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, got a completely revised paperback cover this summer, so I asked Josh to come back and share the new Cover Story. Because his original one? Highly entertaining. Here's Josh:
"As mentioned in my previous Cover Story, Will Halpin (the star of THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN) was once a cartoon and is now a real boy! On the cover of the hardcover, Will (along with his co-stars Ebony and Devon) was rendered cartoon-style by French artist Philippe Petit-Roulet. It was a very cool cover (right), but for the paperback I was informed that my publisher was going to 'go in a different direction.' (I'm not sure why I put that in quotes because it may not be a direct quote.)
"Various other directions were suggested. For example, one had as its central image an old diagram of the lobes of the human brain. It looked a lot like this:
"The title was zooming out of the guy's ear. It looked really awesome to me, but it was decided that it didn't exactly say 'teen friendly.' There was also a version of the cover pitched which had a bunch of crows spelling the title in yarn. I thought this was great too! (I'm not hard to please I guess...) It's hard to explain, but it looked awesome. Alas, it was deemed as not exactly the 'teen vibe.' (Note: Teens don't love crows? They should. Crows are awesome. Maybe teens hate yarn.)
"So the next cover pitched was this black and white image of a dude walking in the woods. I loved how dark and moody it was and the dude was a teen so huzzah! This was the chosen image. My only issue was that the guy was a bit too lanky and thus not a perfect depiction of Will who is 'big-boned' or, in his words, 'a fat kid.' I asked if they could make the dude less lanky and through the magic of Photoshop, Will put on a few pounds. 'Gee, thanks, Berk,' says Will, who continues to speak to me because I am insane.
"Now I'm not 100% sure if the cover artists were thinking of the following passage when they chose this image, but the photo makes me immediately think of the scene in the book where Will plays hooky and walks home through the woods behind school. Can I quote myself? Yes? Thanks. Ahem:
The walk home is bleak and strange. Most of our city is as bland and modern as anywhere else in America, filled with Taco Bells and chemical plants (note: co-incidence?), but the walking route I take from school to home shows slices of the past. Half-falling-down buildings -- relics of the coal mining era -- are still visible. They hang incongruously in the shadows above the shining new construction, receding into the background. Like ghosts. I walk past a rusty bridge that retreats into the woods for a few hundred yards, then gets swallowed up by trees and the side of the mountain. A bridge to nowhere is probably symbolic of something in this town, of my life maybe.
"So to me this new cover totally is Will, wandering through the woods, thinking about life. Perfect! Then they added a really great font (man, I love fonts!) and it was done! The black and white motif continues on the back cover, which also has some red text that looks pretty bad-assed. Can I also mention that the red text quotes some of the book's starred reviews? No? Yeah, that would be a bit much. Anyway, thanks for having me (and Will) back!"
Thanks, Josh! These two covers are so different that I had to find out more about them. I like both, but for completely different reasons. First, I'm into a cartoon cover, and I think this hardcover is fun without being "too young" or cheesy. The paperback cover I like for its mystery, and the font is playful, so that kind of keeps the fun element of the first cover.
What do you guys think?