The OF Blog: Cover art for those sick of new cover art for books that likely suck

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Cover art for those sick of new cover art for books that likely suck

Yes, I am posting images of eight Ballantine Adult Fantasy edition books from 1969-1974 that I own to act as an antidote to yet one more hooded assassin/tramp stamp were-vampire shagger/other assorted "shiny new" cover art that promises (or belies) suckitude within.

Believe it or not, I wish there were more covers like these today.  There's more of a "flow" to some of these, plus there are more pastel colors than on many Easter eggs.

Plus it helps that some of these are anthologies containing stories that I probably have never encountered elsewhere, so that is a bonus.

And some, like this Dunsany one, are just beautiful to me.  Don't you agree?


Sean Fisher said...

Agree? Absolutely!

Lsrry said...

And to think there are dozens more left for me to buy in the coming months. Sometimes it's nice to have the older covers.

DeadStare4Life said...

They are delightful covers and part of the reason why I've picked up many of the books in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series over the years. Though many of the books in the series are stone classics (both lost and found), I know that I'll never have enough time to get around to reading a good number of them. That doesn't stop me from marveling at the lovely cover art. You may wish to track down the OOP but not-frightfully-expensive book "The Fantastic Art of Gervasio Gallardo". Gallardo did the art for several covers in the series. The book has larger images of his art and details, too. I'd love to see lysergic painted beauty return to book covers, but we are firmly in the age of the garish and the Photoshopped. (You may enjoy the "Journey Round My Skull" blog from a fellow named Will.) - Joseph, Diabolik DVD/Exhumed Films, Philly

Lsrry said...

Thanks for the tip! Certainly will look into it in the near future!

Ben Godby said...

Those old covers are beautiful. They remind me of the first edition AD&D rule books. So... sweet. Too bad covers these days are shiny and smell like fish!


Lsrry said...

Ha! Never thought about the fish smell, but you may be onto something!

James said...

While I liked the cover when I first saw it, the more I look at the art for The Silver Stallion, the more I love it. The vibrant colors are wonderful and striking and do much to make the cover appealing to me, but if that was all it offered, I would not be nearly as taken by it. Rather, it is the mixture of color and imagery, the knight's likely doomed charge uphill towards a ferocious enemy (or three, the back cover is a bit blurry) with whom I suppose may be death riding at his side (keep in mind, I know nothing about the book). Now that is a book I would pick up based solely on the cover!

In addition, the book also features wonderful use of space. One of my biggest complaints these days, beyond the normal bitching and moaning about photo-realistic covers and their cloaked brethren, is poor use of space. You get this when the text used on the cover of the book encroaches upon the main artwork (I am not talking about random landscape, that sort of thing). Of course, I am not going to say it happens a lot, because I would have to hunt down offending covers for proof, but it does happen and it annoys the fuck out of me when I see it because it becomes a cluttered mess. All of these covers you have pictured here share the same quality, this wonderful use of space (in different ways) to ensure that the text does not intrude upon the artwork.

I wouldn't go so far as to say all of the covers appeal to me though. Compared to the rest of the books here, except perhaps the Dunsany, which has its own qualities, The Wood Beyond the World seems a bit bland. It lacks the color that defines the rest (excepting the Dunsany) and the imagery itself just isn't appealing to me. The Lovecraft does not inspire terror, nor does it appeal to me. When I try to look at the cover from the viewpoint of someone who knows nothing about Lovecraft, I get the feeling that this book is a jaunt through a surreal dreamscape--and not one with an ancient, unspeakable evil lying in wait. But while it does not appeal to me, that is not to say it does not appeal to others. I am also reminded of Super Mario Bros.' Piranha Plant when I see the mouthed vines, which makes me wonder if the creator of the game might have had a copy of this on him at the time. :P

Lsrry said...

I agree to some extent, but I would argue that the faded colors for the Morris book fit in well with the sort of archaic romance (as in The Romance of the Stone, not quasi-erotica) the story sets out to tell. As for the Cthulhu anthology, I think the oddness of the covers fits well with the "weirdness" being explored by these authors, most of whom cooperated with Lovecraft in writing the Cthulhu Mythos. It's rather "dated" today, but I think back 40 years ago or so, it would have denoted something strange and twisted, not just horror.

And SMB is just twisted video game imagery, ya know ;)

James said...

Ah, yes, but you have to remember that I am looking at these covers from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about them. When I view the Morris cover, I do not have the benefit of knowing the content and am therefore unaware that the artwork reflects the content.

In comparison to modern cover art, the majority of which seems to be aimed at the poorest tastes in hopes that it will be snatched up off the shelves, this cover would be better aimed at those who are aware of or have already read the story. Or I could be absolutely wrong and speaking out my ass as I have no idea what the tastes were in the 70's.

In any case, your argument stands and I do agree with it.

As for the Lovecraft, yeah I can agree with that. I am wondering if the Cheshire Vines can speak and if they are themselves unspeakable horrors. :D

Lsrry said...

I think the vines just run a little shop ;)

And most of these books are reissues, so there likely were some expectations associated with it, at least for a few readers purchasing the first MMPBs of these stories.

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