Often regarded as the pinnacle of the franchise, Super Castlevania IV is the classic tale of vampire hunter Simon Belmont stalking Transylvania’s dark and undead overlord. As well as being infinitely playable, Super Castlevania IV is renowned for its beautiful soundtrack featuring compositions and arrangements by the Konami Kukeiha Club that were well beyond anything heard on a Nintendo system before. With Mondo pressing the 16-bit sounds to 180-gram vinyl, the label sought out French visual artist JenoLab to create a cover art that packs more bite than Dracula himself.

With a catalogue of delicious digital dreamscapes under the belt, it was only a matter of time before JenoLab would be headhunted for a cover art contract.

“Mondo sent me an e-mail after finding my art portfolio on the internet” JenoLab explains. “They asked me if I would be interested in illustrating the score for Super Castlevania IV, to which I agreed. Super Castlevania IV was one of my favorite games on the Super Nintendo. I also really like [PlayStation’s] Symphony of the Night, too.”

JenoLad continues, ”Mondo gave me free rein for the global concept and the artworks. We exchanged our opinions at each step of the work and I always could count on them to give me the right advice. It was a pleasant atmosphere. Sometimes, Konami asked us to change minor elements of the artwork in order to stay close to the aesthetic of the game.”

Expanding the 16-bit textures into grandiose, opulent pieces, JenoLab took a page or two from the anime art book. “I am mostly inspired by the Japanese animation style. I am motivated by the works of Ghibli, Satoshi Kon, Otomo, Mamoru Oshii, Koji Morimoto, Tatsuyuki Tanaka, and Anno Hideaki. I also have a lot of influences from great concept artists such as Matt Rhodes, Simon Stålenhag, Chun Lo, Jan Weßbecher, and even Mehl Amundsen—too many to mention!”

Expressionistic and elegant, one thing that stands out with the Super Castlevania IV pieces is that JenoLab never draws without a purpose; there is always a story in mind, and JenoLab focused on the game’s narrative as the focal point for the score's artwork.

“I love storytelling, I remember the first time I played SCIV, it was an epic journey,” reflects JenoLab. "It was an amazing trip in this fantastic universe. Each boss I encountered was a stressful struggle. My biggest memory was the time I was facing the boss, I knew I couldn't go back, and then I took my breath and... engaged the fight (and died, sometimes [laughs])! This is what I wanted to share with the viewers, the situation that each of us, players, have met through Belmont, facing the enemies until Dracula himself. This is the main concept of my work. Each artwork is a boss scene, the very moment before the battle.”

As far as tools and timeframes, JenoLab notes, “I work in full digital [ink and color]. I worked on these artworks the same way I usually work: with a Wacom tablet and Photoshop. [From the start of the project to its completion] I think it took about two months, including all the exchanges with Mondo and Konami. Mondo did a great job [with the final product] and I hope it will please all the collectors.”

Konami Kukeiha Club’s legendary work on Super Castlevania IV is a classic collection of audio carnage that up until now has only been available to hear on the SNES cartridge. Equally as impressive, JenoLab’s beautiful and bloodthirsty artworks have no doubt helped this Mondo release stake out its rightful position on vinyl collectors' shelves this year.

Peace to JenoLab for helping out with this piece. Pick up your vinyl copy of Super Castlevania IV at MondoTees.com. You can catch JenoLab’s catalogue at both Facebook and ArtStation. Also, make sure to check out JenoLab’s work (as well as many other great French artists) in a collective 37 mini-story comic titled Pandora – Tome 2.