Making Horatio, Part 1

How many book covers does it take to capture everything that Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe is?

I haven’t met Oleander Plume in real time. I imagine her being as colorful, as outlandish, as her main man, Horatio Slice.

Months and months ago, Oleander Plume sent me this photo:

Horatio Slice, the model

This is Horatio Slice, she told me. Well, actually, this is a model who inspired Oleander to write Horatio Slice, or to continue writing Horatio Slice, to never lose steam, since she found said model really quite compelling.

Come on. Look at those lips.

This image of Horatio stuck with me while I read Horatio Slice for the first time. He was still there, star of the show, when I began the first round of editing. It feels like I’ve seen him naked a million times. I’ve seen him evade the greatest villains in the universe, jump through portals created by vampire pirates, “navigate” creatures with many genitals, work with a talking squirrel to, believe it or not, bust him back into jail. I’ve seen him sad and I’ve seen him horny and I’ve seen him blow flying monsters out of the sky simply by striking a chord on his electric guitar, which doesn’t need an amplifier, by the way. The universe is his amplifier.

Stepping Back

As an editor here at Go Deeper Press, I like to keep little notes about the manuscripts I’m working with. Sometimes these notes help me shape the book’s synopsis with the author. Sometimes I just delete them once the book has been published.

Here’s something I’ve written about Horatio Slice, the novel:

All the zany, magical comedy of Mel Brooks, an adventure not dissimilar to Indiana Jones meets Barbarella meets The Matrix, and men, men, horny men, of all shapes and sizes. This is wild, fun, pornographic fiction for anyone who loves the masculine, the feminine, and all identities in between. It’s for cravers—for aficionados—of big, hard, pounding cock, and anyone who appreciates uproarious erotica.

That last line needs work, I know, but imagine for a moment this new category of erotica—“uproarious!”

Okay. Now’s probably a good time to point out my dilemma as not only the editor, but the book cover designer. (We wear lots of hats here at GDP.)

I guess the hints are in the notes:

  • Mel Brooks
  • Jane Fonda in thigh highs
  • Sweaty Harrison Ford
  •  Keanu in leather, fighting the power
  • Cock

Like the character himself, Horatio Slice, the book, is truly one of a kind. Lana reminded me of the term “slipstream,” and yeah, that covers some of the genres offered in this novel. We’ve got sci fi and fantasy, but we’ve also got action, a touch of mystery, a huge, huge delightfully overwhelming dose of really fun and smart comedy (of which you’re already familiar if you follow Oleander’s blog or her directly via any social media platform, like Twitter or Facebook), and lots and lots of gay sex.

So, how does the cover designer capture all of these elements into one 1500 pixel x 2250 pixel image?

Turns out, the cover designer can’t, and so he doesn’t.

Horatio Slice and the Amazing Multi-Genre Dreambook

It really is a dreambook. I mean, I’ll speak only for myself here, but some of my dreams (not all, mind you) get really vivid and, most relatedly, quite porny. Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe is all these things. It is mind-blowing acid trip. It is white-knuckle action adventure. It is titillating shower scenes with seven kind of snarky identical twins with Prince Albert’s.

Most importantly, Horatio is color—in its language, imagination, and hilarity.

Once I got that down—design Horatio Slice’s cover using lots of color to encapsulate its sheer brilliance and unquestionable madness—shit got a lot easier.

Reasons for You To Come Back Next Time

There’s a lot of stuff to read on the internet, isn’t there? I know! Well, if you decide to come back and read Part 2 of this blog post, you’ll be privy to a variety of draft cover designs that I did, all in hopes of wooing Oleander Plume into selecting one of them, please and thanks. Here’s one example, which was nixed as soon as it was done because (1) I couldn’t disguise the use of our “model Horatio” enough to not be at risk of a serious lawsuit and (2) it looks too much like the Velvet Goldmine movie poster, and so the mood was kind of off:

Horatio Slice Book Cover Attempt 1