-By Greg Manchess

Back in for another cover with Matthew Kalamidas, of the Science Fiction Book Club, at the helm! This is the second cover for the next set of novels in the omnibus series, Vampire Earth.

Where to start? Directly on paper. But this time, I had more background material and synopsis that Matthew pulled together for me. We had a boatload of time to work on this cover together. And, true to form, we both let it hang for far too long. By the time we got to the thumbnail stage, I only had about 2 weeks. Matthew understood though. And sometimes, something like this just has to percolate….for both of us.

Thumbnails first….looking for more movement this time. Nothing over the top as we may need that for the end of the series. I chose to play it subtle, but cool. Matthew prompted me that if we could work in that the main character was in Seattle, part of the story, so much the better. The Space Needle says it clearly.

After a very small set of thumbs, about the size of a pinky nail, I proceeded to larger ones. No time for a first flush set. Had to get these designed and composed as I went.

I was thinking that D and E had nice movement in the figure. (Notice how close B is to the finish.) Matthew decided that B was the one, but could I put the burning Jeep in there? No problem. Frankly, I could’ve painted any one of these and had fun. I only show the ones I want to paint, of course. Otherwise, they invariably pick the ones I don’t.

The next stage sketch had to be as close to finish as possible. I was still working out how his left hand would look, but figured it might get cropped. And still designing the gun. Wanted it to look advanced, but not too far from today, and with a touch of ‘sniper’ to it.

Matthew liked it, but wanted the street light back. Duh. What was I thinking?

Matthew comped it up. Looks great, but most of my wrecked Jeep was left out. He redesigned it just for me…and in the final, moved the scan box to the right.

Got the ok for all-systems-go. Looked up Space Needle, and blown out city reference. Shot some reference of me goofing off in the studio….boring the heck out of Rex, the cat.

Finished pencil. Matthew loved it….’cept for the gun hand. He thought it looked a little unconvincing. I pride myself on good hands, so I reworked it immediately. (quote from Sandy Kossin: “All ya need is ONE GOOD HAND in a painting, and it all looks great.” Will never forget that one.)



Close-up, finished painting. Really fun working with the light, and doing the smoke effects. The ruined building was a good time, too, as a blend of strokes-as-building, and strokes-as-paint. But then, that’s what I do.

The Science Fiction Book Club has a short video of me talking about the painting:

I also have a painting on the cover of the latest catalog that’s become a fun subject. Let me know what you think: