Saturday, March 17, 2012

Heroic Cover Art

I'm a big fan of cover art and really appreciate it when someone does it well. For me, my golden age of cover art was in the 70's-80's. During that period, the movie, book and album covers really seemed to speak to me. Maybe because, back then, they were actual paintings instead of Photoshopped women with swords wearing tight leather. And while some of today's dross may be okay, they lack a whole lot of style and panache.

Princess of Mars
One that I thought did it well was the Barsoom series (John Carter of Mars) by Edgar Rice Burroughs. First published in 1917, the covers were revamped by artist Michael Whelan in 1979. Whelan's covers sucked in prepubescent boys with their vivid colors (even though everyone knows Mars is red), heroic heroes, and yes, chicks in chainmail. Sometimes not chainmail, just a strategically placed hand or... what was that little slip of cloth?

Regardless... they did their job. They got me reading the books.

One of my favorite examples of film cover art is easily the Star Wars Hildebrandt. It's so epic that it gave birth to many a fanboy and fangirl on the spot. There's no vague guessing at who the hero or villain is. The hero is the brightest light. And for a simple painting, there's a lot going on. It fueled my imagination for decades.

 As time went on, I even gained a great love for the... well... I call it the 'smeared ink' style.

A lot of sci-fi novels had covers like these. With this style, the edges of a figure are streaked. I don't know if it's meant to convey movement or what, but I've always thought they were kinda cool. And if anyone knows what the actual name of this style, let me know. 'Smeared ink' sounds... silly.

So anyway, with regard to cover art, if I had to pick my absolute favorite thing I like to see, then I guess that would be that I wanna see a hero being heroic. Just some average schmuck standing up against something wrong or evil. I don't care if it's a boy or girl. Just give me a hero. If you want me thinking about your book even when I'm not reading, then skip the simple photo or design cover and paint me a picture that my imagination can play in.


  1. I agree that cover art is boss. I was really ticked when A Song of Ice and Fire ditched its cover illustrations after book three, and went with generic, stupid symbol things that suck.

  2. I totally judge books by their cover art!


Popular Posts