Clark Ashton Smith was also an artist. For the first in a five-volume series I wanted to create a Smith/Van Hollander "collaboration." I was prepared to re-draw some Smith creatures and arrange them in a dramatic tableau. The publisher rejected my concept, but couldn't clearly identify what he preferred. Just before the deadline I improvised a solution. Alas, the cover designer drastically darkened and muted the vibrant colors. Massive graphical elements . . . brown stripes . . . were added. The cover includes the biggest bar code I've ever seen. (For this blog I removed the bar code, and attempted to restore the original color balance.) A weak illustration can be camouflaged with graphical embellishments. But a healthy illustration doesn't need to be subdued. A healthy illustration can take weeks and even months to prepare; most book designs can be knocked out in a few hours.