When I first wrote Joe Vampire, I saw him as an edgy alternative to the generally-accepted vampire novel tropes that abound in the world of contemporary literature. He’s not a traditional vampire story in the least…he’s really just a dude trying to find a way through a bad situation that happens to be Being a Vampire.
We’ve all been there. Except for the vampire part, maybe.
I’m just guessing.
For the version I published myself, I came up with a cover concept that portrayed the whole “I’m a hip, urban nerd who’s embarrassed to be undead and wish to remain anonymous” idea. It worked as an introductory image. When it was picked up by Booktrope and relaunched several months later, the office humor-slash-romance element was brought forward, and the Faceless Dude in a Hoodie concept was replaced by a photograph of friends who were kind enough to lend their real-world likenesses to Joe and Chloe. A similar approach was taken when the sequel Joe Vampire: The Afterlife was released, only this time instead of romance it portrayed Joe’s meeting with Lorelei, the hooker with a heart of feces. Another friend was good enough to join in the action (actually, she’s the younger sister of the girl on the cover of the first book…fun trivia!)
I love these images. Each represents a thread of the greater Joe mythos and gives a face to the various aspects of a vampire who doesn’t really want to be seen as such. Each is a step forward in the evolution of the series. What none of them capture, though, is the quirky absurdist humor of the stories—the very feature that I intended on setting Joe apart from the vampire pack. Or coven. Or posse.
I guess I don’t know what their little gangs are called these days.
So in gearing up for the third full-length title in the series—title: Joe Vampire: The New Paranormal—I went back to the drawing board and came up with something much more graphic, more colorful and more indicative of the dark, silly nature of Joe’s tale. In Joe Vampire (book one), it all comes down to the shades; they give him some degree of anonymity so he can slowly work his way back into the world at large. In The Afterlife (book two), much of Joe’s progress in dealing with his vampire situation revolves around music…but even that ends up tainted. A blood-spattered synthesizer keyboard captures that best, I think.
(Side note: To make it easier for new readers to catch up on both titles, Booktrope has awesomely thrown them together into one e-book file for Kindle; The Joe Vampire Collection features a version of the new cover, too.)
And for The New Paranormal? Well…the image for that gives away too much of one the story’s fun twists, so I’ll hold it back until we get closer to release time. But it absolutely follows the new pattern. Other works in the franchise will follow suit; Night Falls, a Joe short story, already extends the imagery (for everyone who knows what the title references, the bloodstained apple with a vampire bit missing from will make total sense). So will a little volume of Joe Vampire wisdom I have in the works.
And when Joe Vampire 4 comes along—and it will—it’ll do the same. The idea for both story and cover are already percolating in the ol’ think tank.
Funny how something like a cover reinvention can bring new vitality to a creative project…especially considering the franchise is about a character whose life only really begins after he dies.
But make no mistake: while the Dude Vampire may have a brand-new face, he still has the same old mouth.
On some things, there’s just no compromising.