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 promoting my first two books on the convention circuit. The first cover for Max and the Multiverse had fallen into the “I just need something in order to publish” trap. I had worked with multiple artists prior to deadline, none of whom could capture the comedic tone of the novel. Thus, to get it out the door, I decided to plunder some stock images and design it myself. The resulting cover was okay, but nowhere near what I had hoped for.
Later that year, I was scheduled to appear at the annual Salt Lake Comic Con in Utah. SLCC ended up being my most successful show to date, but the ROI wasn’t the best part. 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).
Laura Gray (right) and her wife Taylor
You can see that old Max 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 steadily morphed into a cover redesign. I could see the characters pop to life through her 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.
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