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Saturday, 16 October 2010

Enchanter, warrior, trickster, sage

A couple of Blood Sword curios here: the character designs and first cover sketch by the original artist. I can't tell you his name or anything about the design process because Oliver and I were not in the loop as far as the covers of these books were concerned. This was in contrast to the Dragon Warriors books, where we were involved not only in choosing and briefing the artists but even in selecting the font and which of the publisher's logos would appear on the covers.

I don't know why this artist's approach was rejected, but I think it may have been the overabundance of upper lip hair - rather off-putting for a YA book, surely.


  1. Hi Dave !

    And the same characters (thus by the same artist) were on the cover for the French edition:
    Unfortunately, only Russ Nicholson is credited for the inner illustrations in the French book. There is however one clue here, on BS3:
    In the lower corner left, we can read: DAN87
    The book was published indeed in 1987 (for Britain). If we assume that it was the same artist, you may identify who it was. I know that "Daniel Horne" illustrated the covers for the "Sherlock Holmes" series; was this the same man ? The search goes on...
    Completely unrelated: now you gonna try to write your books in Sambahsa since I have released the full Sambahsa -English dictionary:
    (however, you need to know the grammar, so I understand you may want to delay this endeavour...)


  2. Hi Olivier, good Sherlockian reasoning. However, I think it cannot be right as the artist signs himself "Paul" on that first sketch. Le Port des Assassins used the UK cover, and all five of those were by Danny Flynn, who replaced Paul X as cover artist. So I think he is the DAN in question. I would have preferred if Russ had done the covers as well as interiors, but the Hodder art director had his own ideas - which included the dripping blood on the "Blood Sword" logo, thankfully missing from the French, Italian and Japanese editions.

  3. Thanks Doctor Watson :-)
    I had seen "Paul" too on the first sketch but I thought it was the name of the head of the illustration department of the publisher (!)
    IMO, these beautiful illustrations were refused because they're irrealistic: the enchanter, the warrior and especially the sage are too scantily clad for Krarth's climate !
    Moreover, Kalugen's fortress looks great on this sketch; on the French cover, they have added a few fungus-shaped structures on some towers, making it look more like a futuristic base for flying saucers !!

  4. Nice technical work, but a heavy late 70's and early 80's vibe from the characters - reminds me of the covers of Atari VCS games.

    Still, more accurate than the Danny Flynn covers - w.t.f. was going on there? Tiny stick adventurers vs ridiculous looking giant creatures that don't appear anywhere in the book (well, I don't recall a lumpy boil-head blue giant or an immense rat man, though perhaps I missed that particular path...).

  5. About the Danny Flynn covers, this was my rough take:

    Book 1: The Eidolon (hey, it's green)
    Book 2: The World Serpent (but why are there 2 of them?)
    Book 3: The Djinn (nice Blanchean vibe happening in this one)
    Book 4: Garm the Wolf/Giant hybrid
    Book 5: The Ice Bear

  6. I met Danny Flynn and was explaining to him about the eidolon for Book 1. I said, "You know the ghost in Ghostbusters, the way it floats in the air in the library and then suddenly swoops to attack them..."

    "Say no more!" cried young Flynn. "I know exactly what you mean." And that's how come Slimer appears on the cover of the first Blood Sword book :(

    For later books, the editor and/or art director handled it without input from me and Oliver. I suspect it was the art director (the same guy who put red globs of ichor dripping off the logo) because we ended up with those tiny little stick-figure adventurers and gigantic jokey monsters. Presumably the editor would at least have realized those weren't in keeping with the style of the books.