This was almost like a rerun of On a Storyteller’s Night, in which the artwork became a midnight hour job. Still, it was completed to the satisfaction of Tony Clarkin, who has presided over album art design from The Eleventh Hour to the present day.
Tony summoned Matthews to M2 Studios near Wolverhampton, where he outlined his thoughts for the cover art. Matthews did not like the title Sacred Blood Divine Lines, stressing that there is no such thing as divine lies. The problem was overcome by the inclusion of quotation marks around the word divine.
Matthews started work on a pencil sketch, which was larger than his usual size for preliminary pencil drawings, but it allowed for easier viewing of the considerable detail. From Tony’s description of what he required, Matthews began to draw parallels with previous Magnum album artworks: the villain seated on a throne and a collection of vulnerable children from the 1983 album The Eleventh Hour; the schoolboy in striped uniform, standing in defiance with his catapult at the ready, similar to Into The Valley of the Moonking; and the dog, as On a Storyteller's Night, Foundation and The Gathering. Matthews painted his own (late) dog Jip, as he was in puppyhood, next to the schoolboy. The discerning eye will notice the dog’s statement of disrespect for the power mad tyrant (who apparently has reminded some people of Mr Burns from The Simpsons) with the pool of piddle that has extinguished one of his levitating fire-bowls ... and in the other small indiscretion nearby. The dog piddle was Tony’s idea - encouraged by this Matthews made the further addition.
The colours had to be hinged around orange and black, hence the warm desert featured on the left hand side of the picture (or the reverse of the album). While Clarkin wanted buildings with spires on this part of the design, Matthews was permitted his usual right to embellishment and personal additions. There are some similarities to other Magnum covers, for example, the ascending shaft of light as in Chase the Dragon and Foundation; and rather like Escape from the Shadow Garden are the pedestals holding Magnum icons, including the Magnum sword, the pommel of the Storyteller’s stick, etc. (Matthews also included The Tardis, as requested by a Magnum fan, and Mickey Mouse).
On the far left foreground is an antique computer, shaped somewhat like a horse and a cobra. It is of course a Trojan horse, of the type you can expect to find spying and plundering your private information contained in your computer… welcome to the New World Order!
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