There’s a Bimbo on the Cover, Verse 3: Here there be dragons.

There’s a dragon on the cover of the book.

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.”

When Phyl subsequently scored contracts for three new dragon books, naturally was hopeful that Luis would do those covers as well.

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 in Kindle format!

Bimbo Jacket copy



There’s a Bimbo on the Cover, Verse 3: Here there be dragons. — 4 Comments

  1. In the fires (New Zealand) editions of the Changer of Days books I had to fight hard to have the lurking yeti removed from the cover of the first book. No such animal appears anywhere in the story. I ALSO had to draw the line at their rendition of my desert cargo beasts which were almost-but-not-quite camels – and which came out in the first draft as suffering from a severe case of Disneycamel – wearing these beatific grins and looking sideways at their beholder out of these dulcet soft coquettish eyes… I snapped, “No camel in the history of the breed has ever been this sweet tempered, and the ones in my story are camel-tempered on steroids. Fix this!”