As ubiquitous in publishing as the Wilhelm Scream is in film, Apocalypse Guy is on a hell of a lot of book covers. Not just books out there for sale right now, but books yet to be born, books yet to even be conceived.
There are a number of websites where authors can licence pre-made book covers that have been cobbled together by many talented (and some untalented) Photoshop wizards from stock photo sites that are brimming with hundreds of thousands of images. So far, I’ve only ever bought one cover like this, because the odds of finding a pre-made that sufficiently matches the contents of one of my books are pretty low. It’s not that I’m super-picky, but usually when I see one that could work, it’s either shitty from a design perspective, or too generic to get me excited about adding it to my author shelf. Nevertheless, I like to browse, hoping to one day stumble across something perfect.
Over the weekend, I binged and ended up looking at nearly 10,000 different covers. That’s right, 10k. I did the math. Of all those, I bookmarked 27 for future consideration. I’ll probably end up pulling the trigger on zero of them. Still, compared to how many images I’ve looked at on the various stock sights, that’s a drop in the ocean.
After a while, you come to recognize certain key images that get used or incorporated over and over again. Photo shoots with specific models leap out, and you’ll know exactly where that image came from. You’ll feel intimately acquainted with Brunette-Chick-With-Sword, even while you’re cheating on her with Blonde-Chick-With-Sword. Some photo shoots are so overused, I wouldn’t touch a single element from any of them. They’ve been around, they’ve been loose with their evocative imagery and, worst of all, they’ve become sad, used-up clichés in the book-cover biz.
The biggest tramp on the block has to be Apocalypse Guy. This one is from an instantly-recognizable photo shoot of an unrecognizable model in full-body gear and a gas mask. Sometimes he’s carrying a gun. Sometimes he’s sitting in a chair. Always he seems to be looking at you through his dark lenses, indifferent or accusatory, as though asking, “How could you let the world come to this?” Insert various backgrounds of ruins and decay and there’s your generic cover for your dystopian-future novel. Sixty bucks, please.
I can’t even calculate how many covers I’ve seen him on at this point, both published and proposed. I’ve stumbled upon the original photo shoot many times as well—plain, modified, mangled, but always that same guy.
Now that you know his face—or lack thereof—you’ll never fail to notice him if you browse enough virtual bookshops. Like the survivalist he represents, he’ll outlive us all.
Speaking of apocalypses, how was your Valentine’s Day? Are you sick of that shit yet?
If so, check out the Anti-Valentine’s eBook giveaway for a bunch of novels, novellas and short stories that aren’t about all that icky romance stuff. You can grab a free copy of my book, Filmography, which does have some romance stuff in the mix, but not of the usual icky variety. This is the kind of romance that will make you feel dirty, and not in the good sexy sort of way. More in the used and abused sort of way. Like real relationships.
If you’re paying attention to the minutia of the website (and I know you aren’t—I barely do), you’ll see that there’s a newsletter you can now subscribe to on the right-hand sidebar. Two issues in, it’s still early days for regular readers here to climb aboard. Subscribers will receive additional news about discounts and giveaways, and will also have unique opportunities to get previews, exclusive content, advanced copies, and other goodies. Fill out the short form, and you’ll get irregular emails from me. I swear to never, ever send you offers for boner pills, or account notices that pretend to be from your bank. But no promises about soliciting you for fake funeral insurance.