John Adamian of the Hartford Advocate emailed me last week with a cover concept. They were doing a story about the "#amazonfail" controversy, and they wanted a cover illo parodying the cliche romance novel cover, but with a twist.
Instead of a strapping, Fabio-esque dude embracing a damsel while waves crashed nearby, our Fabio would be clutching another Fabio in his bulging arms. After a bit of thought, I suggested that, rather than twin Fabios, why not make one of them a guy in drag? The result: Sketch #1.
But there was one problem: the art would be running on the cover of three sister papers, one of which runs a big ol' strip ad along the bottom. This would require a horizontal composition with a fair amount of wiggle room, and my initial sketch, (featuring an actual paperback) was vertical. It had plenty of dead space to the left and right, but it wouldn't forgive any trimming at the bottom to accommodate the ad.
The Advocate's production manager Peter Morlock cobbled together his vision of how things could be repositioned into a horizontal shape, (see below). I wept briefly at the thought of losing the "book object" from Sketch #1, but I couldn't argue that the new version worked 100% better in the shape. I drew Sketch #2 based on Morlock's cut-n-paste number, and the final art was pretty much a traced-up, cleaned-up, full color version of the second sketch.