There’s a dragon on the cover of the book.
He is long and green and scaly, but he’s nowhere in the tale.
He is a dragon on the cover of the book.
With the exception of the iconic dragon in the Baen Books logo—a clever little gizmo that gives every Baen book both a dragon AND a rocket (next verse)—I’ve never personally had a dragon on the cover of a book. Other writers of my acquaintance, have, however experienced some sort of dragon debacle.
As you can see, above, Book View Café’s own Phyllis (Irene) Radford has had one of the more peculiar dragon incidents. Specifically, the cover of The Renegade Dragon which seems an appropriate title under the circumstances. As Phyl tells it, “the cover artist for the first five books decamped to New Zealand to paint back drops for some piddling little movie with Orlando Bloom and Vigo Mortensen”. He did not give enough notice to the publisher, alas, before he took off for Middle Earth. The beleaguered Editor found herself with a book to publish and no cover artist. One artist in her stable was free and, was assigned to the project.
The renegade reptile is rendered in colored pencil, creating a pastel effect one does not usually imagine when one thinks of dragons and—call me crazy—but I suspect this creamy white dragon may have started life as a unicorn.
Wanna see what this particular dragon was supposed to look like? Phyl’s German language cover shall serve to illustrate. Hm. Not white. And not the least bit like a unicorn. I could, I suppose write a verse about a unicorn being on the cover of the book, but “unicorn” doesn’t scan to “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”. It would force the word unicorn to be truncated with disastrous results (“There’s a eunuch on the cover of my book”).
This story has a happy ending, however. After the original artist disappeared a second time, the unnamed artist of the dragunicorn was by-passed in favor of a hew artist—Luis Reyo. But because Luis didn’t speak much English and couldn’t read the book for cover ideas, Phyllis got to design the covers for her next three books (The Wizard’s Treasure, The Dragon Circle, and The Dragon’s Revenge).
Phyl told me, “When Luis was artist guest of honor at Norwescon a couple years ago, I took my cover flats. He didn’t just sign the covers for me, he incorporated a dragon drawing into the signature. Then he hugged me, kissed my cheek, insisted on a picture of us together, and begged me to write more dragons so he can paint them for me.”
Most of the cover stories I’ve heard involve things being on the cover that do not belong there. The flip side of the cover is something that shoulda been there but wasn’t. BVC’s Laura Anne Gilman offered these two covers (Flesh and Fire and Weight of Stone), which illustrate (heh) the dragon that was almost NOT on the cover of books it plays a significant part in. Can you tell that the dragons on these covers is an afterthought?
Additionally, Weight of Stone has a bit more of a story. See the hunky guy on the cover? He is a Bimbo! Originally, says Laura, he was “Rambo’d”—headband and immense biceps. At her request, they ditched the headband and put voluminous sleeves over the “guns”. Oh and added a dragon watermark. Despite the hassles involved, I’d say these covers, too, constitute a happy ending.
Next time, we’ll discuss rocketry.
Oh, and lest I forget, you can now purchase my short story collection, Bimbo on the Cover from Amazon.com in Kindle format!