Jigsaw Jones Cover: Part 4, Sketches Are In!

This is the fourth installment of a series of posts following the creation of a single book cover for Jigsaw Jones: The Case of the Secret Skeleton. In Part One I interviewed Scholastic editor Matt Ringler, and we talked about the “cover concept.” For Part Two, illustrator R.W. Alley agreed to giving us a look behind the scenes. In Part Three, our interview with R.W. Alley gave us a fuller appreciation of book covers from the artist’s perspective — it also gave us a chance to “meet” R.W.’s alter-ego, Bob.

Now it gets fun, as the cover moves from word to image. R.W. Alley just sent me some rough sketches. By way of explanation, he wrote:

Attached here are three (well, one is sort of a repeat) sketches that I doodled up last night. I think I like the one with the case title stacked in the doorway. Smaller Jigsaw (might be a problem), but bigger skeleton. In any case, this is how I usually work. Sketch the idea in with a red pencil (sometimes, blue), go over that with a dip-in-the-ink-bottle pen called a crowquill, then add color pencil to simulate, if not actually create, color. The actual drawings are about four by three inches and not in proportion to the final book size, so that will be something to be annoyed about later on. I’ll send both cover ideas to the editor and wait.

Twenty-eight minutes after the first batch of sketches, Bob sent another email:

Hi Jimmy,

As I was sending the first sketches, this third composition occurred to me. The editors like to have Jigsaw pretty big on the covers, so maybe this will suite better.



Here’s a reminder of the original cover concept as presented by “the Scholastics” to the illustrator:

Jigsaw Jones is sneaking into the janitor’s storage closet. We see him standing in the doorway. It’s dark but Jigsaw has a flashlight. In a back corner, lit up by the beam of light is a plaster human skeleton, hanging from a stand by its head. The skeleton should be the size of a normal person, like the ones used in science class to study anatomy. Jigsaw looks frightened. We can also see the normal paraphernalia that would be in the storage closet (i.e. mops, brooms, buckets, etc.). Visibly crumpled in the skeleton’s hand is a piece of paper (a clue).


NOTE: Here’s some links to the all the posts in this seven-part series: One, Two, Three, FourFive, and Six, and Seven. Read them all and experience the awe and wonder of the creative, collaborative process!

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