March Magics: Bad cover art

Posted March 29, 2016 by Lory in design, events / 14 Comments

MarchMagics

For a final March Magics post, I couldn’t resist Kristen’s invitation to share some of my favorite (for lack of a better word) bad cover art from the works of Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones. One sometimes wonders whether the art department is actively trying to lower sales with their wildly horrific concoctions.

 

WitchsBus

For example, here’s the American cover for Jones’s first published children’s book, Witch’s Business. It’s hardly surprising that she took a while to catch on here, and that this book wasn’t reprinted for over thirty years.

 

ColourMagic

And here’s a psychedelic cover for Pratchett’s first Discworld book, The Colour of Magic. Um….just, what???

 

PowerThree     Warlock   HomewardBounders

From there, things tended to get worse. Creepy, sick-looking covers for one of the funniest and most inventive fantasy authors around. What did she do to deserve this?

 

 

Mort   TruthBad

And for Pratchett, we got either bizarrely overloaded images or boring clip art with eye-crossing color combos.

 

SuddenWild

Here is what I think is the absolute ugliest cover on a book I actually own. You have to be a really dedicated DWJ fan to buy this one. Oh, and this one too:

StoppingSpell

 

Yuck! To take the bad taste away, here are some of the GOOD covers that are out there as well. Thank goodness for these!

GOODMakingMoney

 

GOODCastleAir    WyrdCollectors

 

GOODUnexMagic

GOODWintersmith

 

GOODEnchantedGlass

 

And thank you, Kristen, for all the wonderful events this month. I enjoyed it so very much and will look forward to next year.

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14 responses to “March Magics: Bad cover art

  1. Wow! I feel badly for both authors that they ever had to be subjected to seeing their names on those covers! Definitely upholds the “Don’t Judge a Book By it’s Cover” mantra, though!

    • It is so very sad to see these wonderful books misrepresented by their covers. I am afraid they can’t help but put off some readers.

  2. I think your Mort cover is by Josh Kirby who illustrated most if not all of the Discworld UK paperback editions and who’s given the lion’s share of the colour plates in the hardback edition of A Blink of the Screen, so I’m supposing that Pratchett himself like them. A hand-painted Christmas from the 70s by TP which is also included shows he favoured the same style: an acquired taste, I suppose.

    I’m glad though that you included some lovely antidotes to the truly hideous stuff you begin with, Lory; Power of Three is particularly unpleasant and inappropriate. I agree with Jenelle’s warning mantra but it’s hard to hang on to any edition with such execrable jackets — at least until a better edition comes along!

    • Tastes differ, of course. The Kirby paintings are not bad art as such, but they’re a bit too fixed in their details for my taste. For Discworld (and fantasy covers in general, I think) I prefer to have more left to our imagination.

      And I am truly appreciative of the good cover artists out there! Now, if only someone would do a beautiful uniform collector’s edition of Diana Wynne Jones, I’d be the first customer.

    • Jean @ Howling Frog

      Yeah, those Josh Kirby covers were hugely popular. In fact I’m now reading a new collection of Pratchett’s short pieces, and in the introduction he praises Kirby’s work highly. So, different strokes.

      I have that copy of Sudden Wild Magic. It really is hideous.

      • Yes, Kirby’s style is just not my thing, but I’m so glad Pratchett was happy with it! I think authors deserve to get cover art that they actually like.

    • Homeward Bounders has a lot of weirdness going on in it, but still does not deserve that cover. I’m always glad to see the good ones too.

  3. Yes, it’s sometimes a struggle to see how the cover art enhances sales on so many books. On the other hand, I love the Wyrd Sisters cover–works for me!

  4. I think that cover artists just have nothing to do with brilliant fantasy works — at least back then. 😛 I agree though, it’s rather horrific what the slap on the covers of DWJ’s marvelous books especially! I almost didn’t buy a copy of Howl’s Moving Castle at a library sale because it looked so weird, and thereby would have totally missed out on getting into DWJ at all if I had! Love this post. 🙂

    • It is SO sad that such covers surely put off potential readers. I’m glad things are looking up now with many of the modern covers.

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