I’ve said before that DARK•HERITAGE is an odd combination of a number of facets, and a number of genres and a number of tones. While it’s clearly a dark fantasy setting, dark fantasy can be a number of different things, and have a number of different “shades” if you will. One “shade” as an overly, or filter, if you will, of noir over the dark fantasy. Another is an overly of the Golden Age of Piracy, a third is Arabian Nights romanticized Orientalism, and a last is classic Westerns. Those Western and Noir shades come with a tinge, if you will, of steampunk, almost by default. I’m OK with this; while I’m not really (at all) into the steampunk subculture, the rather vaguish steampunk themes in early Iron Kingdoms D&D material were influential in encouraging me to continue to wander afield from “classic” fantasy as my ennui with the genre was developing, but I still wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. Earlier versions of the setting were more overtly steampunk than the version that exists today, where any steampunk elements are exceedingly (and deliberately) vague and rare.
Part of what brings this up is my growing motivation to continue work on my long-suffering novel attempt. Perhaps I should just write the darn thing and then worry about what to do with it, but I’ve been very interested following the career of successful self-published authors who have avoided using “the system” and published their novels as ebooks, without much of the hassle, and with greater control over the finalized project. Some of these guys have been successful enough that major book publishers have then come to them as cold-calls and reissued their books as regular books again. Not saying I expect that to happen to me (although wouldn’t that sure be nice?)
In thinking about what kind of cover art I could get on the (extremely) cheap to use as on a self-published work, I’m leaning towards the following. Dress up my teenaged son, who’s a lot better looking than I am, in a kind of pseudo fantasy/cowboy/steampunk get-up (or at least his top half), take a bust shot, Photoshop that in front of a landscape picture of my own taking of the American southwest (like somewhere in Big Bend or Arches National Parks, since I have some decent and recent pictures of those areas, then sepia tone the whole thing, and add some noise to make it look like a grainy old photo. If I have my son grow a scraggly week or so of Indiana Jonesish scruff, or the best he can do, anyway (he’s only 17) he’d be a close enough approximation of one of my main characters. Maybe a little on the young side, but anywhere from late teens to mid twenties all look about the same, right? Close enough, especially if the image is later manipulated with some grainy noise and color-toning.
My only concern is that rather than looking like a Larry Rostant cover for a good buddy comedy dark fantasy weirdo hybrid, it’ll look like the cover for some kind of really cheap romance novel in fantasy/steampunk drag. But that’s the risk I take for doing this on my own on the cheap. If I were a little bit better artist in my own right, I’d try to paint my own cover, but that’d just end up being embarrassing.