Rick Melton is Savagely Stunning!
I needed it. I needed it bad! So I asked a friend if they would do it… They said no. I asked an ex girlfriend if she would do it…. She said no. So eventually I asked a man over the internet if he would do it… And he said yes.
And it’s dirty minds like that which means you’ll adore the man I’m going to introduce you to. The man I found on the internet was Mr. Rick Melton. And what I needed him to do was create a front cover for my first ever book.
I had been so consumed with writing, become so wrapped up in getting “The Walls of Wintermoore” out there that it came as a shock when my publishers asked if I had any ideas for the front cover. I hadn’t really. I had never thought about it until then. So the writing was put on the back burner for a little while until I sat and thought of ideas. I thought of everything. One of my favourite authors is Agatha Christie. The reprints of her books have very simple covers. The cover for the most recent reprint of “Death on the Nile” is a simple black cover with a small doodle of two Pyramids in the corner. And that’s it. Perhaps a simple little cover would suit my book, a dark grey colour with a single picture of a rusted old table lamp sitting on a table. But no, that was too bland and boring. Agatha Christie can get away with it because she is who she is. I am by no means her, nor anywhere near her league. “Never Judge a Book by It’s Cover!” they say… But that’s a heap of baloney! If someone saw a plain grey book with a picture of an old lamp on it then they wouldn’t give it a second glance. So I realised I needed something different, something eye-catching and unique.
And so I turned to the greatest love of my life. The movies. I had adored and admired the work of Drew Struzan for many years. He is the pivotal movie poster artist, creating film posters for all the Star Wars films, The Muppet Movies, and even Police Academy. One of my most favourite pieces of his work is the poster he painted for “Hocus Pocus”.
It’s simple in it’s design, yet so detailed when it comes to the women’s faces and dresses, and just captures the playful, dark comedic tone to the entire film. It’s absolutely brilliant, as is most of his other work. His posters for the Star Wars films have become iconic! But this wasn’t exactly what I wanted. “The Walls of Wintermoore” is first and foremost a drama. A melodrama, if you want. It’s a simple story of a family and the deep dark secrets that lie within the history of the family. It is by no means a horror novel, not even a thriller. At most it’s a dark noir mystery melodrama… But for some reason I wanted a really powerful, old-school B-Movie horror poster style cover. You know the type, the sort of Grindhouse straight to VHS “Nazi Nuns with Guns and Big Boobs” kind of thing. So I did a bit of searching and came across Rick Melton.
Now, you have probably appreciated Rick’s work without even knowing it. That’s the heartbreaking part of being this kind of artist. Rick has painted posters for movies such as “The Evil Dead”, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and his artwork for “Dawn of the Dead” features on the Blu-Ray special edition re-release of the film. He is indeed the king of exploitative artwork, with the odd nipple and ripped out intestines making guest appearances on more than one of his pieces.
It was with a bit of trepidation that Rick was contacted. I had no idea what this man would be like – if he took commissions for book covers or if he was some psychopath who sat painting the savage brutality of life in a dark cellar… Indeed his book “Stunningly Save: The Artwork of Rick Melton” has the subheading A Book of Blood and Sluts. But nonetheless Rick was contacted, and within a matter of days he replied, and lo and behold he actually seemed normal!! Of course he would do a book cover, he would gladly do it – all he needed was a rough idea of the plot and a basic concept of how the cover was to look. Now at this point I had not told Rick that my book was not in fact “Nazi Nuns with Guns 2: The Revenge of Mother Superior” nor was I wanting a cover anywhere near as shocking as most of his other work. This was my first ever published book, it was going to be read by family members, and a 94 year old granny! But eventually I had to inform him like the prude I am, that there was to be no boobs or blood on the cover, I just wanted a grungy old fashioned 1970’s movie poster style cover that conveyed the grunginess and darkly gothic theme that ran through my story…
After several discussions and consultations about the cover Rick eventually came out with it and asked if there was any part of the book, any small, tiny part that was particularly graphic or horrific that could give him the inspiration necessary to create a cover. The way he asked this had a sort of underlying tone to it that said “if not then I really don’t think I’m the man for the job!” And this was not what I wanted. I needed it now, I needed a Rick Melton book cover! This man, this very successful artist was willing to do my book cover and I was very nearly losing him so I did something he doesn’t know I did… I wrote a section of the book specifically for him.
The first 6 paragraphs of Chapter Three, pages 39-40, were in fact written purposefully for Rick. I wrote a nightmare scene where the main character has a horrifying dream about being dragged underground by ghostly hands. I put my all into it, describing everything in great detail, making it grungy and gruesome. I sent it off to Rick, and it was apparently perfect – gave him the inspiration he needed and he returned to me something magnificent. So I can safely say that Chapter Three is dedicated to Rick Melton.
I remember the first time I saw it. I don’t know if Rick’s heard this before, or if it gives him too much of a big head, but to see something that you’ve written come to life in the form of someone else’s artwork is a surreal and very proud moment. I remember just staring at it for about an hour, taking in everything and loving the fact he had included everything I wanted! I loved his choice of colours – the red sky, the green weeds and ivy – it was perfect! And what was more was he had captured one of the main characters perfectly – the house. Until then I had not really had a proper image in my mind of the house itself – until Rick drew it for me. It was absolutely perfect.
Since then, “The Walls of Wintermoore” has been released, and I have remained in contact with Rick. He is such a good guy. All of my inhibitions about getting in touch with him, all of my fears of him being some creepy creep who loved gore and guts who I wouldn’t be able to have a conversation with were banished within the first email from him – and since then he has been such a pleasure to work with. I am proud to say that Rick Melton has painted my book cover(s), he has been so supportive and encouraging and has helped me with the publishing process more than he knows. He knows I appreciate him and his help, and it was with zero trepidation that I asked him to create the cover for my second book – which, with some encouragement from Rick, is a full blown horror novel this time. Still no blood or sluts on the cover, we’ll save that for the third book!