Making fun of cover art

Not well yet.  Nor king.

Steve labors under these exact conditions, though about a day ahead of me on the symptom train.

We here in Central Maine are looking forward to the Winter Weather on the overnight, which is to bless us with 1-3 inches of snow finished with a tenth of an inch of ice.

But that’s not why I called you all together today.

A couple days ago I got a tweet from someone who was going to talk about the Liaden books, which was cool and gratifying and all like that.  Not only where they going to talk about the Liaden books, but they were (so it said) going to mock the “90s cover art” because that was always fun.

. . .and so I didn’t retweet the announcement of the talk, even though it was to my benefit, and even though someone had taken the time to talk about my books on the internet.

I was just going to content myself with not retweeting, but I realize that this thing is still bothering me, so here I am again, displaying my wrongheadedness and lack of humor.

Those mock-worthy “90s” covers?  Were created by professional SF artists, most of whom are still working today.  Human folk who take pride in their work, and who have survived in a very tough field.  They are not the enemy; and their work — even given that everyone is an art critic — ought not to be held up for laughs just to make oneself look cool — or for any reason, really.

For the record, Steve and I have been very fortunate in the cover art for the Liaden books from the very first cover (which appeared in the 1980s), to the eighteenth cover, revealed only yesterday.  Stephen Hickman, Michael Herring, Alan Pollack, Melisa Michaels, David Mattingly have all done splendid covers for us.  And, while I’m on a roll,  let’s not forget the artists who have covered our non-Liaden work:  Colleen Doran, Tom Kidd, Eric Williams, Chris McGrath, Thomas Peters — all of whom have done fine work for us, for our characters, and, ultimately, for the people who picked up our books and took a chance on them — very likely because the cover — something in the cover — drew them.

Maybe the world had changed that much since the “90s” — maybe every book now is sold through word of mouth, maybe browsing bookshelves is so last century that covers aren’t even needed any more.

But even if that’s so, politeness counts, gratuitous mocking is rude.

And cover artists are not the enemy.


8 thoughts on “Making fun of cover art”

  1. There really is a cat on the 18th cover.

    It’s difficult to tell, what with the differences in angle and height, but I think it’s the same cat, in the same place, as appears on the cover of Necessity’s Child.

  2. Yeah, that sounded like an immature, too-hip-to-be-cool attitude. While, as a bookseller, I saw a few ARCs that made
    me say, “Oh that was an awful art choice – I hope they fix
    it before the final,” I have to say, I like all your covers…

    Mind you, my objections had a lot to do with whether one could
    read the title or the author’s name or not.

    PS I must be cat-blind – I can’t find the cat in NECESSITY’S CHILD or in the new one. :/

  3. Sharon, I also found the cat to be very like (identical to) the cat on the cover of Necessity’s Child. I thought it was just me.

  4. Hmm. Apparently to see the very first cover I have to join Pinterest. Maybe not.

    Oddly enough, while searching for new reading today, I linked to some books with covers going back to the 40s, the 60s, the 80s, etc.; they showed many, many different styles, and yes, some of them look a bit dated. Let’s just say dated. But that doesn’t mean they should be mocked in any spiteful or malicious way – that’s how book covers were back then.

    Has anyone noticed how many sf/f book covers these days seem to have the same guy, wearing a deep cowl? Didn’t this look start with the 2nd Star Wars prequel?

  5. Thank you. I do sometimes forget, when a particularly annoying cover (on my own stuff) shows up, that the people who do cover art work hard at it.

  6. I enjoy sf cover art to the point that I put it in the computer folder from which my Apple TV displays pictures while playing music.
    What bugs me is cover art that doesn’t seem to come from the story it covers. It might not fit the picture my mind has formed, like Miri’s braid from “Agent of Change” and “Dragon in Exile,” but one should at least be able to identify it as coming from a specific scene in the book (like “Dragon Ship”) or as the depiction of a specific character(s), I’m including planetary systems and spaceships in this group. After all, they play a big part in science fiction.
    I’ve quite enjoyed the last eight, or so, Liaden covers. Good art, appropriate to the book and easy to identify characters and/or scenes.
    Keep it up.
    —Now, if I could just find the cat . . . —

  7. I agree. Bugs me, too. It’s a sign of immaturity or something, gratuitous mocking to make oneself look cool. It’s possible they mean to “laugh with you, not at you” (at the illustrators) but who could know that from flat text?

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