Fans of my Max and the Multiverse sci-fi comedy series will know the talented artist that is Laura Gray. She is the illustrator behind those long-running character ensemble covers. The series has gone through a recent re-brand, which was a bittersweet process because Laura’s designs will always have a special place in the Max universe. Thus, I thought it would be a fitting tribute to tell the story of how I came to work with Laura.
Back in 2017, I was active on the convention circuit where I was promoting my first two books. The first cover for Max and the Multiverse had fallen into the all-to-familiar trap of “I just need something in order to publish.” I had worked with multiple artists before my publishing date, none of which could capture the comedic tone of the novel. Thus, I decided to plunder some stock images and design it myself, just to get it out the door so I could start promotions. The resulting cover was okay, but it fell well short of the one I had hoped for.
Later that year, I was scheduled to attend the annual Salt Lake Comic Con in Utah. I was based in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the time, so it was an easy jaunt (and a very pretty drive). SLCC ended up being my best show to date. I sold more books at that event than any other, but the ROI wasn’t the best part of the con. My booth neighbor for the weekend just so happened to be Laura Gray and her soon-to-be wife Taylor, who is another talented artist.
You can see that old cover in the top left corner, which sticks out as positively amateur when hanging beside the artwork of Laura and Taylor. We got to chatting, as booth neighbors do, and ended up learning a lot about each other’s works. Laura started tossing out ideas for some Max and the Multiverse fan art, which sparked some fresh musings on a cover redesign. I could see the characters pop to life through Laura’s artistic lens.
The rest, as they say, is history.
We kept in touch after the con and exchanged ideas for a new Max cover. Soon after, she provided rough sketches that blossomed into the first ensemble cover for the series, which also turned into prints and posters. The fan response was great, which carried over into the next two books. It was a fantastic collaboration that I will always remember fondly. And for the lucky readers who managed to snag these editions, you own a beloved piece of Max history.
It was a delightful experience to watch these nutty characters come to life and I cannot thank Laura enough for her vision and hard work. She is a truly talented artist and I feel privileged to have worked with her.