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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cover Stories: So Punk Rock by Micol Ostow, with art by David Ostow

So Punk Rock.jpg
Micol and David Ostow are siblings who teamed up to work on So Punk Rock. I heard them read last summer, and I laughed about 10 times in five minutes. Now that's a good book!

Here's Micol with their Cover Story:

"So Punk Rock is a hybrid graphic novel, i.e.: a regular novel with little comic interstitials throughout, the conceit being that the drawings are taken from the main character Ari's notebook, which he initially bought to use for his music (turns out he's much better at sketching than songwriting). So we'd looked at a lot of the illustrated books that had been coming out at that time like Wimpy Kid and the Minx line from DC, where the cover art was directly indicative of the illustrations inside. In my head I had this thought that it was going to look like a marbled composition notebook, with a drawing sort of "scotch-taped" on that was something Ari had done.

"We talked it over with our editor, Andrew Karre (who has since left Flux to take over the young adult imprint at Carol Rhoda), who was kind enough to listen to my (shockingly specific) suggestions. Considering how many novels I've published, I don't know that my input had been solicited on cover art in the past, and clearly I was jumping on the opportunity to have my voice heard.

"Thankfully, Andrew is patient. Also thankfully, he ultimately went with his design team's much more professional concept. What can I say? I'm a word person, not a picture person.

"After that first conversation, we didn't hear from the art team again until they had an almost-final comp ready, which was almost exactly the cover as it appears on the book. It may have been a product of the flux (no pun intended) of the changing of the editorial guard (Andrew was replaced by the equally awesome Brian Farrey), or maybe they were simply afraid of hearing more of my lousy ideas, but what they showed us was what the sales team had approved, which I knew as a former editor meant that barring any unexpected author meltdowns, it was essentially a done deal.

"I suppose if we had HATED it, they would have been willing to reconsider. But fortunately, that wasn't the case.

"I think our only feedback at the time was that David's credit (which started out saying "illustrated by" and ended up as "art by") wasn't quite bold enough. So they beefed up the font for us so that Dave could have his props.

"Obviously the art was David's, taken from the interior. But our amazing designer Lisa Novak, had some good information about how the rest of it came about, so I'll give the floor to her:

"Andrew Karre, your initial editor, had a rough idea of what he was looking for. He told me that he wanted a cover with multiple bands of imagery. He said that I should put David's drawings on the cover along with photos of something indicating music in some way (a guitar, drums, etc). Other than that the rest was up to me.

"I thought about what punk rock means to me and what that genre looks like in my mind. I'm going to date myself here, but to me punk rock is the Sex Pistols so I went immediately to the look they had on their posters and album covers and used that as a jumping off point. To me punk rock is loud and messy and fast with bodies everywhere jumping around and bright lights. It's fun and there's a lot going on all at the same time and I wanted that to come through on the cover.

"I decided the horizontal bands for the title and author name is where I could pay homage to the Pistols design so I ripped some paper and scanned it in and overlaid those pieces with some distressed metal images. For the fonts I wanted those to play to the Pistols design as well so I chose some grungy, messy fonts. In the 2 alternate covers that weren't chosen I actually used about 6 or 7 different fonts to make up the title.

"The cover that was chosen uses one of David's illustrations of the whole band at the top. I looked at his drawing and imagined what the band sounded like and then mixed a couple stock images together of a crowd dancing and some bright spot lights to get a psychedelic background to give the feeling of the loud, fast music. To tie the cover together I knew I wanted a photo of what the band would look like in real life, like the kids reading the story might imagine. I found this photo of a guitarist and drummer on a stock photo site and thought, sure, this could be Ari and Yossi jamming at a bar mitzvah. I added the Star of David to Ari's guitar strap to give a little clue about what makes this band special, and I had the cover as you see it now.

SPR Alts.jpg
"The two alternate covers I designed used the same basic idea that was laid out by Andrew and the same thoughts I had about punk rock. The committee who chose the cover was torn and it took them a while to decide on the final cover because in essence, all 3 covers are very similar in their feel and look with slight variations in the imagery. But I think all 3 covers project that feeling of fast music and punk rock in their own way."

So Punk Rock.jpg

"Personally, I love all three covers, and the Star of David is a great touch. The Sex Pistols is the perfect reference, in my opinion. The one real surprise to me was the colored-in version of the band--frankly, I had no idea Jonas was blond. But I love it!

"If we're going for 100% honesty, it's not actually a cover I would necessarily have picked up myself if I were browsing in a bookstore. It's definitely very "boy"--much more so than any of my previous books/covers, like Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa, for example
(which makes sense, because it's the most "boy" story I've ever written, not the least because it's told from a male POV). BUT I did think it was eye-catching, and very true to the sensibility of the story, so I was happy. I know that it appeals to the book's target audience, and we get lots of compliments on the cover, too, so I have plenty of positive reinforcement. Lisa and the rest of the Flux team were dead-on in creating something that really captured the "punk rock" spirit of the story, and communicated about the characters, too."

I love this story and the inspiration images--the Sex Pistols influence is so clear now that Lisa mentions it! Thanks to Micol, David and Lisa for the story.

What do you guys think of the cover?

Here's the trailer for the book, which will make you want it even more:


Scott said...

Great book! And I really love that trailer.

Little Willow said...

Go Ostows!

Lorie Ann Grover said...

I loved this book! Woohoo!

Heidi Estrin said...

It's a great book, and I love hearing about how the cover was designed!

silu said...

This great information about seo. i am very happy to read this than.Thank you rasananda

Pagidistorsi said...

nice info bro. i also play punkrock song in my country. i'm from indonesia. see our song in my blog, www.semuabilang.blogspot.com
thanx alot!

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