The third release in my “tech joke” cover ebook series is 1950s short sci-fi story, The Stutterer by R.R. Merliss.

My goal with the series is to create ebooks with illustrative covers of literature in the public domain. I design the covers using comparable references to today’s digital culture.

My preceeding releases featured the Twitter Fail Whale on the cover of Moby Dick and steampunk on the cover of Wired Love.

The Stutterer is about a stuttering robot from another planet. So naturally, I chose to parody the Android mascot. The robot has a message for the people of Earth. Hence, the RSS logo. Earth in the book has some sort of telepathy P.A. system (Internet, anyone?).

I went for a bit of the Saul Bass style and lots of negative space to reflect the atmosphere of loneliness which the robot endures in the story (not to mention us stutterers have to go through).

You’re going to have to read the ebook (epub, mobi) in order to figure out what the Tesla coils relate to :)

My workflow

First I sketched my designs on paper and planned out the layout. I scanned in the chosen drawings and went straight to work with the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator. Made the background black and all the objects white. That’s it!

This cover was the fastest of the three for me to create since I didn’t need to work with strokes or many different colours. Only black and white.

Most of the Illustrator work was playing with the bezier curves until I achieved the look I needed then proceeded with the fonts.

The right font for impact

I used Impact. Nice and blocky. I find it fits in very well with the overall design and layout. And it’s very readable. I placed the author and my illustration credit at the top right corner to prevent it from interfering with the negative space above the robot and RSS logo and underneath the book’s title.

This look is a lot of fun to create as it’s playful, wild and comes naturally to me. I enjoy designing with this look and will definitely use it again in the future.


While the book has nothing to do with stuttering (nor does it explain stuttering accurately), I chose to work on this book to coincide with this year’s International Stuttering Awareness Day happening on October 22. I stuttered all my life and produce a successful podcast on the topic at

You can download my ebook for The Stutterer for free in both epub and mobi formats.

If you’re interested in pulp fiction sci-fi, check out my friend, Glenn Schmelzle’s podcast, Science Fiction Afterlife where he reviews golden age sci-fi books.