Hullo, my lambs!
So one of the options I’m considering for Year Two here on the ol’ Substack is possibly serializing my novel STORYKILLER (or maybe a newly edited/extra content version of it? Or something?) and then — if that goes well and there seems to be demand — maybe serializing STORYKILLER 2 on here (which is partially written but far from finished).
But since I know most of you know me from my comics work more than my novels I thought an intro to STORYKILLER might be fun?
And since pictures speak more than words, let’s start by introducing you to the main characters through the incredible illustrators that contributed to the exclusive illustrated hardcover edition we did years back. You’ll recognize a lot of these guys as some of the best illustrators working in comics.
But before we get to the images…here’s the little blurb so you can at least have some context for what you’re looking at:
The monster under the bed is real.
In fact, all the monsters are real, as well as the heroes and everything in between because all Fiction is real and exists in a dimension called Story. However, plenty of those monsters hang out in the Mortal world, living both innocent and nefarious lives. This might not mean much to the average Mortal unaware of the Fictional characters living among them, but for The Last Scion — the only Mortal that can kill those Fictional characters — things are about to become very complicated.
Tessa Battle is that Mortal.
Upon her return to Lore, Oregon after years bouncing around boarding schools in Europe, Tessa had her sights set on simple things like shoe shopping, finding a hot boyfriend, and eating as many pancakes as humanly possible. However, The Last Scion mantle Tessa just got saddled with is not making any of that easy, and as Tessa and her new friends are about to learn, Story is long from done with her, no matter how much she'd like to deny her destiny.
With more than one monster chasing her and questionable characters like The Snow Queen and Robin Hood as her allies, Tessa is going to need all the superpowers she inherited just to stay alive.
And maybe, just maybe, it's a good thing that behind her back, Stories call her THE STORYKILLER.
Onto the good stuff!
First and foremost, the great STEPHANIE HANS did both of my book covers (this and THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING), and I was so incredibly lucky.
Stephanie’s use of the loose pages to nod to the “Story” of it all and then using those pages to create the axe shape is pure genius. Tessa’s axe is called La Colombe Noire and it plays a pretty significant role in the book/her life — so it’s really appropriate to have it featured here — and how Stephanie did this is just so clever. Those piercing eyes and bright red hair peeking out from the darkness so ominously just perfectly frames Tessa as the dangerous person she is — she may be our protagonist and a hero — but to the STORIES she is their killer — so the positioning for her is incredibly apt and cool and I think…unexpected. Add some giant bloody wolf prints on the back for extra drama and BOOM! Really just a perfect cover. I was over the moon back then and still am today to be honest.
I ended up doing the text myself (which you can see in the first image) and it’s…fine. I don’t think it’s horribly bad or anything, but it’s not really worthy of Stephanie’s illustration — or the book quite frankly. If it did it again I would hire a designer for sure. It does help that in the hardcover edition the text is gorgeous red foil. Foil always helps! ;D
Stephanie also did two interior illustrations, including one of my favorite pieces ever of Tessa Battle and her axe The Black Dove:
And this is the full “hero” team! Left to Right/Top to Bottom: Robin, Snow, Fenris, Talia, Grayson, Micah & Jeff, Brand, and Tessa with The Black Dove.
Meredith (McClaren of course!) did a few things for STORYKILLER, including this gorgeous piece of Tessa Battle fighting some “franken-dogs” from the book:
Sophie Campbell did a gorgeous piece of Tessa — and The Black Dove as it’s still materializing — it’s an image you may have seen bouncing around the internet a bit as it is very very fucking cool (as is Tessa) ;D
Sophie also did this awesome piece that depicts the horrors of one of my favorite scenes in the book for Micah, Tessa, and Brandon:
ND Stevenson, did one of my favorite pieces from the book - I love the chaos and energy and stylized take here:
The awesome Ben Caldwell did this gorgeous trio — Tessa, Robin, and Fenris. They’re single pieces, but they also look awesome as a sort of “triptych.”
Stacey Lee did two incredible pieces. A group shot — L-R: Brandon, Jeff and Micah, Tessa, Robin, Snow, and Fenris.
And this gorgeous slightly spicy piece of Tessa and Robin:
Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire did this moody Fenris piece:
Rebekah Isaacs did this terrific Robin, Talia, and Hecuba piece:
Jake Wyatt did this extremely cool piece of Micah, Brand, and Jeff (as giant fucking tiger) Love the colors in this one:
Renae De Liz did this trio of unexpected ladies — Ryder, Talia, and Tessa:
Cassandra James did this cool triptych of Brand, Tessa, and Micah with Jeff (as kitty):
Matthew Southworth did this eerie Snow piece:
Ming Doyle did this introspective-feeling Micah piece — but look at the ground/background around her — subtle but very cool/creepy:
Kyla Vanderklugt did this super interesting and super fun piece featuring “The Court” — i.e. Midas, Aladdin, and The Frog Prince:
Thomas Boatwright did this cool Tessa vs The Troll scene:
Caanan Grall did two great pieces, one a simple but delightful portrait of Micah and Jeff (activate tiny dragon form!):
But the second spoke more to the very Storykiller conceit — a super fun piece of Tessa, Robin, and Ryder (sorta):
Brett Weldele did an evocative piece of Snow and Tessa. This is an interpretation of one of my favorite smaller scenes in the book:
And of course, who could Kris Anka draw but my girl Snow (Tessa’s there too, but let’s be real, this is all about the badass platinum blonde. ;D
And never ever ever least — the incredible Dustin Nguyen everyone — a gorgeous original Tessa Battle watercolor. Dustin also donated the original watercolor to me for the campaign and man it was PAINFUL to part with it:
All right. We’re gonna do a little poll here I think.
How Interested Are YOU In Seeing More Storykiller On This Site?
And here’s today’s comments section question: What’s the best STAND ALONE prose book you’ve read? It can’t be book one of your favorite series, or book 10 of that series for that matter — but it CAN be almost anything else — literary or sci-fi or any genre or YA or non-fiction, or even a children’s book. What has stuck with you powerfully all these years?
Follow-up question for extra credit: Do you know WHY you feel that way about it? Can you tell us (in a reasonably succinct way)?
Until next time, my lambs.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.
For me it encapsulates everything Neil tries to do with his stories and all of his themes, and its just such a well crafted book. I just never want to stop turning the pages.
It is also the book I read to my dad as he was in a coma -- it was on his list of books to get to (that he never got to finish.)
--edit "to finish."
Look, the gorgeous artwork is a big help (and points for "triptych" which I couldn't spell without looking it up. You wrote a book, I want to read it. I am sent over the edge when you start Talking About Things using Capital Letters because I love that stuff.
I'm going to cheat for your favorite book question. There's a joke going around about a mother getting her 7-year-old vaccinated, and they ask what her religion is. Mom says she's seven, she doesn't have a religion. They say well, what is your religion? And she answers "Minecraft." (*chef's kiss*). I said my answer would be Marvel Comics, but after being reduced to a puddle by the last episode of Rings of Power, I would now say Tolkien. And as everybody knows, The Lord of the Rings is one book in three volumes. So I pick that one. I have read nothing better, nothing I want to read again more, and nothing else I would want to share.