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Coronavirus Pandemic Anthology: Call for Cover Art

April 2020

Update: Bicycle Comics has closed its open submissions for cover artwork. We will be in touch with everyone who submitted artwork regarding next steps. Thank you and stay tuned!

In June 2020, we will publish an as-yet untitled anthology of poetry responding to the novel coronavirus. This trade paperback will require an engaging, relevant cover—maybe yours!

We're doing this book as a crash project—from concept to press in eight weeks—to capture to the present moment and to get money into the hands of artists, designers, and writers. We can't ask you to illustrate the poems; we don't yet know what those poems will be! But we do have guidance for both format and subject matter.

Bicycle Comics values the arts, and we value your time. If we commission you as our cover artist, we will pay you. The arts didn't become free just because a virus got loose.

Intrigued? You can submit artwork via this form (form closed May 3). Here's what we're looking for:

Design Themes

Cover submissions should be on one of the following five themes.

  1. State Park/Vacation Poster: Cheerful, colorful, "come visit" poster of the kind popular in the mid 20th century. The National Park Service still does these. Graphic, flat fields of color. Think of something that would be completely empty right about now: zoo, amusement park, beach boardwalk, public pool, even a diner. The viewer should see this friendly image and then think: "Wait, actually that's kinda creepy."

  2. Comic Book City-Scape: Okay, fine, give us your best Jack Kirby. Show us a city scene that evokes this quarantine life: a view of rooftop beach chairs and clotheslines, or a low-down, street-level view among the pigeons and discarded latex gloves.

  3. Closed Toy Store: Viewpoint of window-display toys in a darkened, closed Main Street store. The toys look out at a sunny yet (nearly) deserted sidewalk. Toys should include one or two medical-themed items (Weeble ambulance or something). Overall theme: loneliness. Let us feel the darkness/shade of the toy store even though the street is sunny. Think Chris Van Allsburg or David Wiesner.

  4. Surrealism: Tap your inner René Magritte for something both imaginative and jarring. Painterly style. Perhaps coronavirus tumbleweeks carom through a Wild-West town. Atlas shrugs off a coronavirus sphere. Two Escher hands draw a face mask onto a face. Tap into the strangeness of it all.

  5. Artist's Choice: Don't like any of these? Okay, suit yourself. Send us any suitable artwork dealing with the current coronavirus pandemic in North America. But no minor cash prize for this category unless we outright buy your art for the cover.

If we select your artwork for our cover, we'll pay you $125 for the finished artwork. We'll pay $15 for the best submission we receive in the four categories, even if we don't select your artwork for the final cover. No consolation prize for the best submission in #5 Artist's Choice. (Don't say we didn't warn you.)

We respect your time. You do not need to submit completed artwork to be considered. A strong pencil sketch will do, along with a link to some other finished illustrations you would like us to see. Please submit artwork using the easy form (below).

All entries must arrive on or before Wednesday, May 6, 2020.

The Cover Layout Options

This anthology will be a trade paperback book, perfect-bound, with a full-color cover. We don't yet know the title, but design your artwork with one of the "plain Jane" layouts below (your choice).

Possible cover layouts

option1 for cover


Option 1: As simple and straightforward as it gets. 5.5" wide, 8.5" tall, with a large title centered on one line. The names of the editors will appear in the bottom right corner.

option2 for cover


Option 2: Also pretty straightforward. The Book Title has been broken into two (or three?) lines to allow space on the sides. Editors' names again at the bottom right corner.

option3 for cover


Option 3: This layout option puts the words into dark bars of text at the very top and bottom. As a result, the cover artwork commands the center and does not negotiate with the title or other words for space.

Submission Form

Ready? Please fill out this Google form (form closed May 3, 2020). If you have questions before you submit, please write to . Thank you for allowing us to consider your work. We will reply to everyone who sent in art.

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Open-book Financials

                E-book Cover

Full Financial Transparency

Bicycle Comics will absorb the full costs of printing and distributing this anthology, allowing an outsized chunk of this book's budget and any proceeds to go toward paying the writers, designers, and editors. Our topline budget exists on a public spreadsheet in our Google Drive. Peruse the figures to keep tabs on us and to gain some insight into how a small press brings a paperback book into the world.

Additional titles available in our bookstore.