Monday, January 15, 2018

Book covers As Art Galleries

Since I'm uploading art on this blog and will upload to my DeviantArt account later this week, I wanted to talk about how book cover art has influenced and continues to influence me to this day.

I don't wish to get into a long discussion but I will split these blog posts into a mini-series by focusing simply on ONE particular science fiction series.

'The Rowan' Anne McCaffrey (pb)
During my community college days, I 'discovered' this paperback in the college bookstore.

These were the days before college/university bookstores were still owned by their schools.

Done by the artist known simply as Romas, his full name is Romas Brandt Kukalis, he has done mostly front covers mostly in the speculative fiction field. As a very young art major, book covers became my art galleries and I not only devoured the stories but also 'ingested' the covers!

Here, what I can only assume are the hardcovers:
(Hardcover version)
(Hardcover version 2)
Dynamic, huh? Still a fan of these covers. The heroine's/shero's strength of character, her superiority/insecurity complexes, the distinction of her authority, the outfit and fashion of her time period, and her potent psychic abilities seemed to radiate from the paper.
Now, why do I speak on this?
 Well... Most of my reading material have become 'classics' and therefore, in need of updating. While I can't complain that books need re-editions and updating like everything else, I'm a little troubled by a lot of contemporary cover art. Back then, different genres had different 'looks', different aesthetics. And while things weren't perfect, and plenty of speculative fictional books were given a bad rap in poor-looking artwork, book covers that didn't tell a story, there were still gems and once you looked at enough bookshelves, you began to tell, even if the book was stuck on the wrong shelf, this was a romance, this was horror, this was a thriller, this was comedy, this was memoir, fantasy, suspense, etc. Nowadays, it seems book cover art is suffering from sameness.

(Updated cover for 'The Rowan')
Take a look at the updated cover art for The Rowan now:
Nice cover. Nice art. Sigh. But I don't feel anything, and if I didn't recognize my late favorite author's name, this would be the cover to any other genre. As an emerging author who may have books published one day, I feel kind of sad that my cover won't be distinct and unique from others. Because, as a new name, I will already have obstacles to get my titles out there, and as a lifetime reader and lover of books, a bland front cover will prove to be another obstacle.

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