{ feuilleton }


• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


Fiendish Schemes


Now that this cover has appeared on Amazon I can mention it here. As usual, the machinery of publishing grinds slowly: this cover was commissioned in November last year, and worked on from the end of that month up to Christmas. Fiendish Schemes is a sequel by KW Jeter to his Infernal Devices, one of the original steampunk novels which was first published in 1987. In 2011 I created covers for reprints by Angry Robot of that title and the author’s earlier Morlock Night. Both those covers were very well received so Tor Books asked me to match their designs with a cover for the new book. This is quite unusual in publishing. Unless they make a real impact, cover designs seldom last beyond a couple of editions before being updated, and they rarely travel to other publishers.


As with the earlier designs, the artwork is pieced together from very small pieces of period engravings, mostly from product catalogues or design books. In the novel, the steampunk weapon below is more alluded to than described but I was pleased with the way the illustration of it came together. Even though it’s composed of pieces of guns, fountain pens and clock parts it looks like something that could physically exist. One of the challenges I enjoy with this kind of collage illustration is trying to make something which doesn’t appear collaged at all.

Fiendish Schemes will be published on October 15th, 2013.


Previously on { feuilleton }
Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam
Steampunk Revolution
The Bookman Histories
Aether Cola
Crafting steampunk illustrations
SteamPunk Magazine
Morlocks, airships and curious cabinets
The Steampunk Bible
Steampunk Reloaded
Steampunk overloaded!
More Steampunk and the Crawling Chaos
Steampunk Redux
Steampunk framed
Steampunk Horror Shortcuts



Posted in {art}, {books}, {collage}, {design}, {fantasy}, {science fiction}, {work}.

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6 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Stephen


    Wow, John, one of your best!


  2. #2 posted by herr doktor bimler


    I’m re-reading “Infernal Devices” at the moment. Have to say, they seriously need better proof-readers at Angry Robot.

  3. #3 posted by John


    Thanks, Stephen. I hadn’t thought about posters although it’s a possibility. May have to remove the typography since that would be trading on Mr Jeter’s work.

    herr doktor bimler: This is still a common complaint about contemporary books, unfortunately. A few days ago I picked a recent copy of Rebecca from a shelf in the local shop to flick through. Opening at a random page came across a hyphenated word (not a compound adjective) in the middle of a sentence. It’s been a problem since professional typesetters (and proofreaders) had their jobs moved in-house to cut down costs.

  4. #4 posted by herr doktor bimler


    It’s been a problem since professional typesetters (and proofreaders) had their jobs moved in-house

    In this case — where the typos take the form of (for instance) “fiat lux” turning into “fiat live” — one wonders whether Angry Robot’s typesetting consists of scanning an earlier edition.

    Opening at a random page came across a hyphenated word (not a compound adjective) in the middle of a sentence.

    Now I feel guilty for typing “proof-reader”.

  5. #5 posted by John M. Simmons Jr.


    A fiendish device indeed! – quite seamless and beautifully designed (for killing I assume, or possibly writing, not having read the novel) I can easily imagine someone taking your illustration and making a real weapon of it using some kind of exotic wood and several rare metals – what size do you imagine it? More like a derringer firing the dart like object, or a full size pistol? Inclusion of the timepiece in the handle gives it another dimension of mystery. Also love the head of the somewhat M?ori-like figure…great series John!

  6. #6 posted by John


    Thanks, John. Unfortunately I can’t say much about the pistol thing without spoiling a plot detail. Suffice to say it’s not necessarily what it seems. As to the size, I think I borrowed the ornamented section from a Derringer-type gun but I imagine it would be fairly bulky, like an old flintlock pistol. The head began life as a Japanese mask that was so fearsome it didn’t need any amending.






“feed your head”