Chris Buzelli Dreams Up a Cover for 'American Gods'
In Neil Gaiman’s novel ‘American Gods,’ Shadow is released from prison just in time to be inducted into an unsuspecting war between the gods of old and the new gods of technology and greed. That sounds like a hyperbolic, philosophic explanation of what must actually be going on in the book, but that’s quite literally the plot: Odin versus the Internet. It’s a story that has captivated audiences for more than a decade and now it’s on track to captivate millions more. Starz is in preproduction to bring the story to life as a live action drama and before the show premiers, droves of new fans are finding the book for the first time, including Chris Buzelli. Chris was moved enough to create his own version of cover art for the book that will be featured this Spring in a gallery show, ‘Dream Covers,’ that includes the work of visual artists imagining their own cover work for some of their favorite books.
“I have to admit that I hadn't read Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods' before but I'm so happy that I finally read it for this project,” says Chris. “Wonderful novel.” The themes of the novel spring through Chris’ work. A small man, representing the story’s protagonist, stands paled in the presence of a flaming buffalo head, a representation of the American mystic tradition. The ghost of his wife, whose loss inspires his journey, is to one side, while an icon of “The House on the Rock,” a bridge between our world and another, is to the other. Smaller references almost hide themselves, whether it’s a pair of birds that are most certainly Odin’s ravens, and a skillfully hidden spider nodding to Anansi, a trickster god from West Africa. Finally, above it all is the coin imbued with the power to bring Shadow’s wife back to him, in a form that’s perhaps both unexpected and unsavory.
More than direct visual cues from the story, Chris took thematic direction as well. The entire composition is covered with a kind of quasi-filigree that recalls biblical illumination or the gilding of magical books of old. This practice is underscored by Chris’ use of duotone. His work is often almost Technicolor in its breadth of hues, but Chris limited himself in the palate for American Gods adding a timeless gravity, and placing it in a pantheon of spiritual reference. It's a feat of reference juggling that even Neil Gaiman calls, "a gorgeous AMERICAN GODS cover."
Watch for Chris Buzelli’s cover for ‘American Gods’ to appear in the ‘Dream Covers’ exhibition at Krab Jab Studio in Seattle, from April 9 to May 7.