I think I may have rounded a corner in my understanding of cover art. I'm still a huge novice, but a few days ago I finally came to understand that the font is more important than the image, and that it's okay to obstruct image with text. But how to create a cover without Photoshop? Not easy, and I'm still using Picasa. Tried to download Gimp, but my computer froze (which never happens!) and I'm afraid to try it again.
I'm excited about this last cover attempt because I think I may have finally come up with something better than the original. Of course a lot of that has to do with the fantastic image in the new version, and the poor quality of the artwork on the original cover. That poorly-drawn man with his skinny lips and swollen neck!
Original Penguin Putnam cover:
My cover design: