1.20.2004

As for this, so for that

I've always kind of instinctively read past the book's cover and given the text a chance to speak for itself. That's probably because I grew up reading Heinlein's Scribner juveniles and some of those covers were butt ugly, let me tell you. I've even built an unconscious aversion to titles, so much so that I often have a hard time remembering them when I want to recommend a book to someone. I can't tell you how many times I've bought a new edition of a book I've already read simply because I didn't recognize the title and the cover was different from before. I took to heart, then to extremes, the old axiom, you can't judge a book by its cover. I still do, but I'm learning.
I've started to notice covers, and especially cover art. Partly through the influence of chouinard, whose passionate advocacy for graphic arts is as tireless as anything else he does. Caffeine, gabe's wonder drug of choice. At least I hope that's what it is.... And there's the Evil One, Gabe Mesa, who introduced me to the idea of "beautiful books", objects to be cherished for themselves, for their physical qualities. This, I'll say, was a concept that took years -- three of them -- to find a chink in the wall I'd built between myself and the graphic aesthetics of books.
In fact, it wasn't until I met this guy at the World Fantasy Convention, and he let Deborah Layne, of Wheatland Press fame, and I peek through his portfolio that the whole thing gelled for me. It didn't hurt that I was sitting with Jeremy Lassen and Jason Williams from Night Shade, or that Lucius Shepard was there beaming like a proud papa when he showed me the new cover for Two Trains Running. The hour and a half stint I spent running Night Shade's table while Jeremy and Jason's wife, Molly ran a meet and greet probably didn't hurt either -- anyone else impressed by their production standards? But what really put the light on was the way John talked about books, and specifically SF books, as though there wasn't anything else in the world he'd rather be doing with his considerable talent. That's when the idea finally took some kind of form I could manage. Beautiful books. Who'd a thunk it?
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