Embark on the ride on your life with School Bus of Horrors, 6 seriously spooky reads with striking covers featuring artwork by Euan Cook, these American library editions created by Capstone take readers to the next level with 4D elements leading to exclusive video content, accessed by scannable codes within the books.
Euan Cook graduated from University College Falmouth in 2011. He was one of Creative Review’s picks of the New Designers 2011 exhibition. His work focuses on good observational drawing skills and bold linework with restrained colour palettes, using less to communicate more. He’s interested in sequential narratives and portraying the personalities of people and places he sees around him. He was born and lives in London, the city and its population are his favourite subjects as he seeks out familiar things from unfamiliar perspectives.
Read on to find out about what scares the socks off Euan and where he finds his inspiration…
What was your favourite scary movie as a child?
I was never one of those kids that sought out the scariest thing around to terrify themselves with. But I do remember having a fondness for lots of creepy films. Stop motion skeletons and kraken in really old black and white stuff, Tim Burton films such as Edward Scissorhands, which we watched all the time on VHS taped off the TV.
The Nightmare Before Christmas isn’t particularly scary, there is lots of amazing creepyness but the monsters are the main characters. It’s one of my favourite films of all time though. A gorgeous visual feast, brilliant characters, some excellent songs and a touching story. And it all wraps up in 1 hour 15 mins. What a gem.
Where did you get your inspiration for the covers for School Bus of Horrors?
There is a strong concept behind each story that made it easy to respond to. The horror genre has so many iconic themes and monsters, there is more reference material than you could ever use.
Sometimes it was a case of pushing the central story idea as far as possible. In Crush Hour the bus gets shorter and shorter, squishing everyone together. So the cover has the bus windscreen absolutely filled with kids’ faces, legs and arms, packed lunches and stationary pushed up against the glass, like a jar of pickles.
Which of the covers was the most challenging and why?
It didn’t take the longest or require the most revision, but it’s the cover for Shocks! (I don’t think it’s part of the first wave of SBH books but it should come out in the future). The idea for that cover was to have the bus hit by lightning and everything appears doubled, like double vision or the bus shaking out of itself, splitting in two. So trying to clearly indicate the two separate buses, the creepy/supernatural element of what was going, while keeping everything legible and aesthetically pleasing was a really interesting challenge. I think it all came together nicely though, especially pleased with the electricity crackling all around the bus(es). Look forward to seeing how it turns out on the printed cover.
Tell us your top 3 monsters..
Top three monsters of all time or in the School Bus of Horrors? In the books it would be the furry monsters from Destruction Zone, the zombies in Dead End and the mysterious driver of the bus itself, who appears in almost all the books but only ever offers tiny hints about their character and motivation.
Top monsters of all time is trickier… I guess the humble zombie would have to be one. Have been somewhat obsessed with zombie films since watching the original Night of the Living Dead as a teenager. They let us explore ideas about ourselves, humanity. And the slowly inevitable doom of facing a horde of zombies is really terrifying.
At the risk of just going with the classics I also really like Dracula. He has a strangely specific set of abilities, things he can and cannot do, which all reinforce the idea of a of a subversive, domineering creep. He can seem tragic and vulnerable as well as absolutely despicable. Good monster.
And for something completely different – the big crab armour monsters from Dark Crystal. There are some brilliantly evocative designs in that film but the big crab monsters are my fave. There is clearly a person running around underneath the puppet but they look amazing anyway. Also I like crabs. My top three monsters will probably change every time you ask me, there are too many great ones to choose from.
Which books were you drawn to as a child?
I have always loved anything that could create a world in your head. When I was young that was Amazing Mazes and Where’s Wally, huge, sprawling illustrations you could get lost in. Or Katie Morag, with it’s incredibly evocative Scottish island, something that felt familiar from having family in that part of the world. The earliest novel I remember was a (presumably edited for kids) version of Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
Later on I was mad for science fiction and fantasy books, the Star Wars X-Wing books, Redwall, anything with a richly detailed world to sink your teeth into.
Which one piece of advice would you give someone about to graduate and join the professional creative world..
It may be trite and worn but – keep doing stuff and putting it out there. Which is not to say you need to immediately tie yourself to the first project that appears, so long as you keep doing bits of stuff you are interested in and putting it in front of people, whether that’s wondering around an art fair, entering some competitions (there are loads of good ones, many of them run yearly), or sending postcards to publishers and agents, you will find opportunities and develop your skills beyond what you learned at school/college/university.
Check out his portfolio HERE