The OF Blog: US cover art for Bakker and Morgan, plus thoughts on a fallacy

Saturday, August 23, 2008

US cover art for Bakker and Morgan, plus thoughts on a fallacy

Although I've been aware of each of these cover art releases for some time now, I wanted to wait until the weekend, when I would have a bit more free time (or rather, Saturday, since it seems much of Sunday will be taken up with grading/recording). Over the past week or so, the US cover art for R. Scott Bakker's first volume in The Aspect-Emperor trilogy and Richard K. Morgan's trilogy opening The Steel Remains have been released, each with early 2009 releases. Below are images of the US cover art for each:

I personally like each of these quite a bit, especially Bakker's, which I feel keeps a connection with The Prince of Nothing cover art for the Canada/US hardcover releases, with its vellum-like vertical script underlying the author's name and book title. It is deliberately understated and the color scheme is pleasing to the eye. With Morgan's cover art, with the reddish-yellow center creating a halo-like effect around the central horseman in the image, the overall effect to me is a mesmerizing one - who is that man (or woman) and what role does s/he play in this story? Nothing too garish or attention-seeking in my opinion.

However, some feel that images such as these are "bland" or that the UK version of the cover art to Morgan's book is superior. Some have even gone so far as to claim (even after admitting that the US version of Morgan's book is decent to good) that UK cover art is almost always better than that of its American counterparts. While I cannot deny that there are some travesties that have been released here in the US, I have seen quite a bit of very good cover art that I haven't seen matched by British counterparts. For example, take the aforementioned Bakker cover art for his previous series, as well as for the upcoming US release of his SF thriller, Neuropath. The art there just was more pleasing to my eyes and apparently to many others. Or how about the cover art that tends to adorn works from authors published by Night Shade or Prime, for example? Those are often very visual and beautiful books, but yet their names never really get mentioned in the occasional forum discussions on cover art. Perhaps it is due to the smaller scale nature of their publications or due to audience reading habits, but if one is going to make the claim that one country is tending to produce "better" cover art than another, I would like to think that more than just a few big-market releases in only one or two subgenres would be cited as evidence. Then again, the people whose opinions I'd rather hear, those of the artists themselves, too often are not consulted whenever such discussions arise.

But what about you? What do you think about these covers or about the points I raised above?


David Moles said...

Those who think British covers are always better should read Jo Walton's post on Steven Brust covers.

Of course, those who hope the fantasy novels they're reading will be mistaken for cheap 70s series thrillers might prefer the British covers.

Lsrry said...

Thanks for the link, David. The Brust cover...yikes, that's a hideous one! Good point about the older covers, some of which I've seen in the past.

Joe said...

My thought on the UK vs US cover discussions is that very likely the examples which get raises are when the exact same book is being published in the US and the UK around the same time.

This isn't necessarily the case with Night Shade or Prime or Golden Gryphon. Sometimes, but not always.

Plus, you're also generally looking at higher profile works in that online community. Comparing cover art for Steven Erikson novels is a popular game. Those forums or blogs may not talk about the books by Prime or Night Shade in the first place, so why discuss the cover art?

Lsrry said...

True, it's as if it isn't "big name," it isn't worthy of being mentioned in the discussion/debate. I find myself wondering in these and other debates more often what it is that I'm not seeing being discussed than anything else, this being an example.

Liviu said...

I have to say that in the Morgan TSR case, the UK cover - I bought and read that edition - is indeed much more interesting. The book itself is very good but not groundbreaking - to my big surprise I agreed with a famous reviewer of the hype fame - too "thin" event-wise so only future installments will determine if it's a great series or just a good one

Mihai A. said...

For me is more appealing the cover of the US edition in the case of Richard Morgan's novel. And I think that the cover art in general has a great influence in picking up a book. I mean if I would be put in front of an unknown author to me the first impact on me is the cover. It's the same case with the humans. Even though the moral qualities are the most important, you can discover them if you're not attracted physical first by that person.

Anonymous said...

I don't often [ or at all ] seek to compare the UK/US covers, but I was under the impression that the US covers are in general more 'attention seeking'.

I admire Frazetta or Vallejo but I definitely don't want art like their on my fantasy books.

The images you posted are all nice. I would maybe go for the US version of The Steel Remains since I think it is stronger in terms of colour and composition.


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