Solomon Press - Edith Saposnik Kaplan's A Child's Witness to Genocide illustration by illustrator Duncan Long

Issue five of Free Voices magazine came out with the illustration I did for it. The issue contains extensive excerpts of Edith Saposnik Kaplan’s book A Child’s Witness to Genocide (both the magazine and book are published by The Solomon Press).

The autobiographical story follows the harrowing experiences of Kaplan (then a small child) who was a member in a Jewish family in pre-Stalinist Russia, when Jews were being persecuted from all sides. Death and terror became almost commonplace with members of the family being betrayed and some dying violently. It is a cautionary tale, especially when one considers the anti-Jewish sentiments that seem to be growing once again around the planet.

Ray Solomon gave me a pretty free hand as I worked on this cover. I chose to do the illustration and most of the lettering in black and white, in part because due to the tendency of many to view that period that way due to old photos and newsreels. But also I chose these colors both because of the stark look they gave things as well as the moral implications of things being pretty much in black and white with no gray areas during that period in Russia.

The lack of color also helped make the key word stand out, with a dark red hinting at the bloodshed within the story. I struggled over whether or not to add the skull inside the “O” of genocide. Eventually I did but am still a little unsure whether it is needed.

For the face of the child, I chose to have the thousand-yard-stare that one often sees in people who have been involved in traumatic experiences. I also had her hands covering her mouth as if to say, “What has been seen is almost unspeakable.”

Hopefully these “hidden meanings” reach the viewer on a subconscious level even if they aren’t “read” directly upon viewing the illustration.

Duncan Long is a freelance book and magazine cover illustrator who has done work for The Solomon Press, PS Publishing, Pocket Books, The Sun, Asimov Science Fiction Magazine, and many other publishers and self-publishing authors. See his cover magazine and book cover illustrations at: