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Versions of illustration for Nathan Aldyne's Slate, 3rd in the Valentine and Lovelace series

November 22, 2013

Inside the Cover Design Process: The Moustache Wars

So, I had decided that our four “Valentine and Lovelace” books were all going to feature cover illustrations showing “iconic” gay imagery from the 1970s/80s. The back-pocket bandana and the studded-cap-with-aviators were no-brainers, for anyone who remembers the period. The visage of a drag-queen also felt right; some of us went to a lot of drag shows in the 80s. Our illustrator, a young Brazilian guy named Andy Alves, had no problem knocking out swell drawings, even though he had yet to be a gleam in his mother’s eye at the time these images are intended to evoke.

But then we hit a snag. The fourth image, I had decreed, was to be of the infamous “Christopher Street Clone” moustache, modeled after the hairy splotch that graced Tom Selleck’s upper lip. In 1982, half the men in Greenwich Village were sporting these. We sent Andy photographs of Tom Selleck in his heyday, but somehow the message didn’t get through: What we got in response was a series of moustaches – waxed, curled, primped to a faretheewell – that, to my eye, read as too fetish-y. Not what I was after.

Then, just to torment Andy, I decided that Mr. Clone should be smoking. To my astonishment, this proved to be an even taller order than the moustache: The cigarette looked like a cigarillo, and even worse, it was slotted between a pair of slack lips, as though it had been glued there. Plus it was emitting enough smoke to cure a side of salmon. I couldn’t figure it out: Who smokes that way? What cigarette is shaped like that? Is Andy nuts?

And then the bulb went on: No, he’s not nuts, he’s young. He doesn’t smoke, he probably doesn’t even have friends who smoke. He simply doesn’t know that you have to hold the damn thing between lips with a little tension to them, that if instead you’re just short of drooling, your cigarette – which will be disgustingly wet and sloppy, by the way – will wind up on the sidewalk in the blink of an eye. Plus which those slack, drooly lips are about as sexy as gum disease, but I digress.

No question, I have tortured this poor kid. But we now have a strong, sexy mouth; a cigarette that looks like a cigarette (and is emitting …well, still too much smoke, but at least it doesn’t look like someone’s going to be calling the EPA); and a happy absence of moustache-wax. To finish things up, Mr. Clone’s going to be getting a Lambda medallion on a leather choker. Because everyone deserves a little bling.

If creating 37 versions of a drawing sounds like your idea of a good time, feel free to send us your portfolio! Maggie is always looking for new victims.



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