A “Delightfully Cheap-Looking” Cover Image

double featureKirkus Reviews calls Owen King‘s debut novel “superbly imagined lit-fic about family, fathers and film.” The author has previously published We’re All in This Together: A Novella and Stories, and is the co-editor of the anthology Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories. Full disclosure: Owen and I were friends in college, and he’s awesome. So is his cover. Here he is to talk about its evolution (and the title change!):

“Double Feature has a lot to do with films and filmmakers, so it seemed like the cover should emphasize that and play off some bit of cinematic iconography. I had an early image in my mind of a pair of camp chairs—you know the kind I mean, the ones that would have ‘Mr. Spielberg’ or ‘Ms. Thurman’ or whoever’s name written on the back—and for one chair to be adult-sized and one chair to be child-sized. In retrospect, maybe that was too subdued an image for a book that’s essentially comedic. Still, that’s the direction I was thinking. It would have indicated the film aspect, and also said something about the relationship between the novel’s main characters, a father and a son.

“When my editor asked me for ideas, I was probably more strident about what I didn’t want than what I did want. There are a lot of books involving movies that have movie screens or marquees on the cover, and I wanted Double Feature to look different.

“[When I saw the initial design] I liked it, but I didn’t love it. The first iteration showed the red tickets on a black background and that juxtaposition, red against black, as attractive as it was, I felt that it sent a worryingly sober message. Although Double Feature has serious themes, it also has pot smoking and B-movies and naked people running around. It’s not sober.

reenactment

“That said, I did feel positively toward it. The tickets themselves were delightfully cheap-looking, the kind that you most commonly get at raffles or county fairs, but also at second-run movie theaters.

“My publisher, to their eternal credit, has been very patient with me! There were a couple of other covers I initially favored—one involved a set of statues that were amusing riffs on the Oscar statue—and I had ideas about all of them. With the final cover, though, all I asked was that the background be a different color.

“The background color was the major change, but my editor, Brant Rumble, also went to a lot of trouble to make sure that the ticket numbers changed and counted forward. In the original mock-up they were all the same number. (Related: Brant Rumble is a meticulous man and I would be lost without him.)

“I have come to truly love the cover. It’s striking and beautiful and literally invites the reader—’Here’s a ticket, come on inside.'”

Thanks, Owen! I actually wouldn’t have thought of red-on-red for the cover, but it really works, way better than red-on-black, I think. And the title change: Yes. Good call. Otherwise it reads like, “Reenactment Reenactment,” right?

What do you guys think of this cover?