Creating the Trix Covers

Chris “Doc” Warner of Lincoln, NE is the graphics arts genius who designed the (old) covers for the paperback edition of the Trix series and the (new) covers of the e-edition.

We met casually at an event in Lincoln to celebrate the completion of an expensive and extensive remodeling of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. I don’t remember the particulars of our conversation but I do remember the outcome. I sent him info on the generalities of the then nascent series, told him how I had created the covers and he expressed interest in designing a cover, see how it goes.

It went well.

Until it went well, it certainly hadn’t. I was my own cover illustrator. I knew as much about creating covers as Sarah Palin probably knows about the blockchain. And it showed. Publishers typically have a template that allows you to submit a photo, a title, your name and out the other end comes a cover. Garbage in, garbage out. The cover for Stupid Monkey was a rag doll monkey with a photo of a golf course in the background. For Management by Murder, I used a photo I took of a street performer in Montreal. He was dressed in gold and mimicked a statue. I cropped and used most of the torso. The title and my name were in black. It looked like it was created by an amateur with no experience in cover design but an ego sufficient to think that wasn’t necessary and nobody to tell him he was seriously deluded.

The original cover for No Rules had the title in black against a background of shimmering gold-and-blue metal. For variety, my name and “a Dr. Dan Trix novel” were in white. Thankfully, it was about that time I ran into Doc. I relayed that Trix had to track down the bad guys in Slovenia. We volleyed a bit but the cover he created is the one now on the paperback edition, formerly also on the e-edition.

That cover became the template for both the paperback an e-covers. The colors of the flag in the country where Trix travels in search of Truth, Justice and the American Way, are the horizontal colors on the cover. For No Rules, Trix and Lester flew to Slovenia. The flag is white, blue and red horizontal stripes. The top third is consistently buildings and palm trees growing from an ink splash with an airplane nearby. That represents the Florida where Trix lives and the travel undertaken in each book. The title of the novel appears in the middle. Below the English title, is the title upside down in Slovenian. The bottom third of the early and now paperback covers are black silhouettes with a gun behind a head. Those covers were the Hope diamond compared to my cubic zirconia covers.

After eleven covers with that format, Doc thought it was time for a refresh. The old covers were rendered off a soft color palate. The new ones are neon-electric. The cover colors still emanate from colors of country flags. Doc got a little confused which novel was which in what order so he added the tab across the right upper corner. Only took us years to figure that out. The English title and upside down version in the local language remains. Doc replaced the airplane image with the world image and white semi-circles representing flights and destinations.

The tough part was the people images. The hard and dirty gun-and- head weren’t really representative of the amusing tone of the books. Trix thinks of himself as a dandy and Elaine is a knockout. We hope the new black-and-white images covey superficial sophisticated insouciance but deep-seated concern. That’s a lot to read into an image.

The author’s name also got a bit of a punch.

As I’ve said many times, if my novels are as engaging as Doc’s covers, the books are a success.

Thanks again, Doc.

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About Author

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Rodney Romig

Rodney Romig has a BA in English and a PhD in Economics from the U. of Nebraska. He lived and worked in Asia for two years (Japan, Korean, Taiwan, Thailand) and Europe for ten years (Germany, England, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Scotland, Italy). For nineteen years, he lived and worked in Hawaii, where he served as the Dean of the College of Business Administration and Professor of Economics at Hawaii Pacific University... Read Full Bio