Cover Reveal: Until the Last Dog Dies, by Robert Guffey

This November, we’ll be publishing Robert Guffey’s genre-defying debut novel, Until the Last Dog Dies. This dark satire focuses on a young stand-up comedian who must confront an apocalyptic virus destroying people’s sense of humor—it’s a compelling mix of speculative fiction, biting stand-up comedy, and end-of-the-world horror.

Today we’re excited to show off the awesome cover, with artwork and design by Keith Negley. You’ll also see a glimpse behind the scenes of our cover-creation process, from rough sketches to final image.

First, here’s the final cover and the book’s description:

Print

What happens when all humor is wiped off the face of the Earth?

Around the world, an unusual viral plague is striking the population. The virus attacks only one particular section of the brain. It isn’t fatal, but it results in the victim’s sense of humor being obliterated. No one is immune.

Elliot Greeley, a young stand-up comedian starving his way through alternative comedy clubs in Los Angeles, isn’t even certain the virus is real at first. But as the pandemic begins to eat away at the very heart of civilization itself, the virus affects Elliot and his close knit group of comedian friends in increasingly personal ways.

What would you consider the end of the world?

Until the Last Dog Dies is a sharp, cutting satire, both a clever twist on apocalyptic fiction and a poignant look at the things that make us human.

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We first took notice of Keith Negley’s work from some excellent covers he produced for Tor.com (Stephen Graham Jones’ “The Night Cyclist” is a great example), and he turned out to be a strong fit for the grit and rough edges of apocalyptic fiction.

After giving Keith the manuscript and some outlined thoughts about possible directions to go, he turned around a number of different draft concepts for us to consider. Here are just a handful of them—as you can see, they’re all quite different.

dog9 dog7 dog4 dog2

Just about all of the sketches center around the stand-up comedian who is the main character of Until the Last Dog Dies, and highlight his sense of isolation as the world around him falls apart. That’s an important theme to the book, and we liked many of the sketches, but we wondered if there was also a way to convey the figurative “fire and brimstone” side of this unusual apocalyptic scenario.

One of Keith’s initial sketches seemed like it held the most potential to explore that direction—this looks a bit more familiar, right?

dog1

 From there, we moved to something even closer to the final:

Last Dog near-final cover

Once we’d approved that draft for final touches, Keith went back and applied the finishing touches—roughing up the smooth edges and giving some important character and personality to the image. The changes made may seem small or hard-to-notice at first glance, but they can often make the difference between a good cover and a great one.

The full progression can be seen below:

dog1   Last Dog near-final cover  Print

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“When we started working on a cover, I was hoping to end up with something that would let the readers know that this was not a typical science fiction novel,” author Robert Guffey told us. “What we ended up with conveyed that exact feeling, but in an eye-catching way I could never have imagined. Keith has done great work for writers like Jonathan Carroll and Stephen Graham Jones, and I love what he brought to the table for Until the Last Dog Dies. There’s both humor and catastrophe in the novel, and Keith nailed that paradox in the artwork and design.”

Hope you all enjoyed getting this glimpse into our process! We had a blast working on this book, and couldn’t be happier with the final cover. We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback—is this something you’d like to see more of? What other sorts of behind-the-scenes glimpses would you be interested in seeing? To share your opinion, please feel free to send us a message from the Contact Us tab at the top of the page!