Reanimator, first published in 1922, is a short story by the American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. In the story, an unnamed narrator recounts the tale of Herbert West – a young, intelligent and arrogant doctor. West invented a serum that allowed him to resurrect the dead. His obsession and experimentation with this process did not end well for him.
The brief: Reanimator
The brief was to design a cover for a new reprint of the story. The client wanted something ‘zombie’ related for the front cover and suggested a body rising from a grave.
The design: Reanimator
I was a teenager when I first discovered the works of H.P. Lovecraft. At school, I used to play the classic Call Of Cthulhu role-playing game, which was based on his stories. I enjoyed 1985 film version, which starred Jeffery Combs as Herbert West, even though it was quite a loose adaptation. The 1990 sequel, Bride of Reanimator, was great fun as well. So, getting the chance to design a book cover for Lovecraft’s tale was a dream brief for me. It also helped that I was familiar with the story.
I was keen to avoid any tacky, cliché blood-thirsty images of zombies, so I chose to take a more subtle approach. I liked the impact of rising hand on the cover. I exaggerated the colours, adding a green hue to make the flesh appear more unnatural and ‘putrid’. A grungy background to helped add to the ‘decayed’ look I wanted for the cover. The florescent green colour, used on the title, is my homage to the lurid, green reanimating serum used by Herbert West in the 1985 movie. I also changed the ’T’ in the title to look like a syringe, another reference to the film version.