When I started this blog I said it would be my opportunity to prove all those editors and art directors who ever rejected a comp of mine wrong--but here's a case where writing the blog made me come to terms with the fact that they were probably right in the first place.
This one’s a might-have-been. None of my designs got used—they wound up going with a photo from Oliver Stone’s Alexander, which was going to be coming out around the same time. But I guess somebody at the publisher didn’t like them, because I haven’t done another book for them since. And looking back, I can kind of see why—they’re a little too high concept for what I understand is basically a fairly straightforward history book, and they don’t exactly scream violence and conquest in any sort of saleable way.
So. First, I tried one using Alexander’s crest, the sun from the flag of ancient Macedonia. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, and nothing to write home about.
Bringing in the helmet from a sculpture didn’t do much to help matters.
And then there’s this one:
That last one I’m still fond of, mostly because I think it’s a fun take on one of my favorite (probably apocryful) historical stories. If you don’t get the reference (and admittedly, I don’t think anyone I’ve ever showed this to has gotten the reference immediately, which is how I know this cover is much too clever for its own good), it’s the story of the Gordian knot, the short version of which is this: there was a particular knot in the city of Gordium that was supposedly impossible to untie, and it was prophesied that whoever could untie this knot would go on to become King of all Asia. Others had tried and failed, but Alexander, upon encountering the problem, whips out his sword and slices the knot in half—voila. Good old fashioned lateral thinking.
Anyway, that’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Alexander, so I gave it a shot. I also quite liked the way the type sat on there, calling out the “A” and “X,” which somehow seems appropriate though I couldn’t quite tell you why. But like I say, it was rejected, and probably with good reason. Still, I’ve always thought it would be a great cover for a novel called Alexander the Great—particularly if that novel wasn’t about the historical Alexander, but just used that as a central metaphor somehow. Anyone want to write that book for me?