The hilarious Josh Berk is here to share his Cover Story for The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, which is a cartoon right now but will soon be a real boy... Take it away, Josh!
"I'm not at all good at what you would call the visual arts. I can't draw or paint and I don't have a good eye for color. For example, one time my wife asked me to name the color of the walls in our apartment (we were not in the apartment at the time, but we were living there) and I simply could not do it. I had no idea! Turns out they were bright green and I had been living there for two years and never really noticed.
"You see my point.
"Anyway, so when people asked me if I gave input on the cover of my book or had ideas about the cover or anything like that, I always say 'none whatsoever, and that's a good thing.' I literally had no ideas and I literally gave no input. I figured I'd let the professional cover artists and jacket designers and so forth do their thing, free of input from an author who doesn't even know the colors of his own walls.
"So the first thing that happened once we got to 'cover time' was that my editor sent me an email stating that the artist had been chosen, and it was Philippe Petit-Roulet. I had no idea who that was, other than that it sounded very French and thus impressive. I googled Monsieur Petit-Roulet and indeed he is quite impressive! The first thing I saw was that he did a bunch of New Yorker covers (like the one on the right), which sort of blew my mind. I also saw that he did some work in comics, which made me happy. My editor explained that they were going for a comic-book-ish feel with the cover, which was cool by me (even though the book itself is not illustrated or about comics or anything). My editor explained to me that the cover would show the characters cruising around as if they're on a mission and I said 'Sounds great!' That was all my input the whole time. 'Sounds great!'
"Then she wrote back to me after a while (even a few days is 'a while' when you're waiting for something exciting like seeing your first cover for the first time) and said it was going back to the art department because some other people (in editorial or marketing, I forget which ) said it looked 'too young.' I said 'sounds good to me!'
"Then I saw the cover for the first time a few weeks later and my first thought was 'Oh wow, Ebony will be so happy she made the cover!' I thought this because I am a crazy person. Ebony, Will's girlfriend in the book, is clearly not a real person. But she started out as a minor character (actually she started out as non-existent if you count the first draft) and gradually became more and more a part of the book until I really loved her. And there she was on the cover! And Will looked like Will and Devon (his sidekick) looked like Devon. He had the little ponytail and was carrying a TOP SECRET dossier just like he does in the book.
"I thought the cover looked quite cool and I was happy with it. It has caused a bit of consternation since the book has come out because it still might give off a 'too young' vibe to some people. It's definitely a YA book (as in there's some swears & an act of violence and other PG-13-ish content) and not for younger audiences. So for the paperback we're going to use a photo cover to hopefully convey 'this book is for teens.' When that comes out I'll come back for 'Berk's Cover Story, The Sequel.' Haha. I'm so pushy. Thanks for having me!"
Thanks, Josh! I would love to have you back anytime. This is a great Cover Story. Scoring a New Yorker cover artist is incredibly cool, and I'm into the color and energy of this cover. I see how it might read a little young, but it's so great I also see why it was chosen. Excited to see the paperback!
What do you guys think?