Today we’re gonna do something different cause my lovely enabler, Lisa, is a WONDERFUL person and lets me babble on pretty much just about anything, as long as there’s a cover in there somewhere.
So, we’ve been chatting a bit back and forth about how the covers for the M/M genre seem to be, well, kinda meh lately. Not bad to be sure, just not WOW. I mean we’ve found a few, last week’s Stung by K.A. Merikan, for example, was a definite WOW, but honestly, it seems like the woo hooness has been dwindling. Granted, we only see a very small percentage of covers every week, so it may just be that, or it could be we’re quickly becoming jaded to half naked torsos and pouty lips. I know, I know, say it ain’t so, right? Trust me, I am 100% not thrilled by this thought myself.
But once again, what to do, what to do? I mean, I have to write something right? I have to keep it interesting and fresh. So this week I’m going to do something I think, I hope, will be a bit fun for everyone. Unfortunately, there are no naked torsos this week. Nor are there any pouting lips. Just me, and my little brain that all of you know by now tends to go off on its own and get lost in its wanderings. It’s really a good thing my head is attached is all I’m sayin’.
But the lack (so to speak) of covers that have jumped out at me lately got me to thinking about my favorite book, which has been published multiple times, and that got me to thinking about how many different ways people could visually interpret a cover for one story and how different covers speak differently to the masses. I mean. how many ways could you interpret, oh say, The Bible, or Gone with the Wind, or Horton Hears a Who if you were asked to do a cover for one of them? Well, I’m sure you’ll not be surprised to find that it’s a lot. Especially if they made a movie about it.
That said, my favorite book of all time since I was a kid is still The Shining by Stephen King. I’ve read it so many times I’ve replaced the actual book 4 times. I have it in soft cover, hard back, and Kindle. The beauty of it is? I’ve read it that many times and it still creeps me out. ‘Specially the kid in the concrete tube in the playground. *shivers* But what can I say? I’m a horror fan. Books, movies, TV shows, you name it ,I probably have seen it or have it waiting on a list to be watched on my Roku. Everything from the 1979 drool worthy performance of Frank Langella in Dracula (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it), to the Army of Darkness (I love Ashe), to even owning a Crypt Keeper doll that cackles at you when you squeeze his tummy. But I’m also a lover of all things in the visual arts realm, especially graphic art. I love seeing all the different interpretations people have for things. I may not understand them or agree with them but everyone has a unique view and to me that’s fascinating in and unto itself.
So I decided to look at how many different versions of The Shining there are. Movie posters and book covers. I’m not going to post them all up here because there are hundreds, but I’ll post a few for your viewing pleasure. Oh, and for those of you that haven’t read the book or seen the movie, there may be spoilers so if you don’t want to read those, stop here! *looks around, listens to crickets, nods*
Ok, let’s look at the very first cover it was ever printed with, by the artist Dave Christensen.
It just smacks of the 1970’s doesn’t it? It kinda reminds me of, I think it was One Life to Live (sometime in the 80’s) that had some god awful drawings of the people on the show, in the credits? I can’t quite remember. I mean I was a teenager and only watched General Hospital for John Stamos and Rick Springfield; I was kinda forced to watch commercials for other shows now wasn’t I?
I mean, it’s not quite daytime soap opera bad, but it’s not great. I’m sure for the time it was pretty cool, but looking at it nowadays? Great googly moogly. Danny looks constipated; the lion (I’m guessing that’s the haunted shrubbery in the bottom left corner) looks like a Rottweiler, and is that a cow? There was cow shrubbery? I remember the rabbit but not a cow. Maybe I need to re-read it. And I especially loooove how mom is relegated to behind everything, because clearly she is the least important part, even more so than the moo cow. I mean, I understand that the story is centered on the hotel wanting Jack to bring Danny into the fold, but Wendy is the one who mans up and beats the living crap out of Jack, and even though she’s scared witless, manages to save herself and Danny, and if you’re going with the book version, Dick Hollaran. *shakes head* But it was the 70s, so we’ll just chalk it up to that. I mean, roller disco was the hot thing back then that’s gotta cut some sort of slack right?
Next up and moving forwards, the REASON, right here boys and girls why you have to have a good tagline. Something thoughtful, provocative, possibly something that doesn’t irritate the FUCK out of the audience, or in this instance, the readers. I bring to you 1993 version:
Words are his power. WORDS ARE HIS POWER?! What the ever living…huh?
If you’ve ever read The Shining, you know that Jack has no power even before the hotel gets its hooks into him. He’s an alcoholic with a nasty temper, and in the very beginning of the book, we learn he’s on the wagon because he and a drinking buddy ran over a bicycle they think had a person on it, even though they don’t find a body. Then he breaks his son’s arm in the act of turning him over to spank him, and then the final catalyst that sends him scurrying to the Overlook Hotel is that he lost his teaching position at a Vermont prep school after assaulting a student who slashed his car’s tires in an act of revenge for cutting the student from the debate team. He’s kinda a dick.
True, he is an aspiring writer (or he’d like to think he is), but the words that are his “power” are nothing but empty when he puts them to paper, and inevitably they are used to turn him batshit crazy. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy ring any bells? Yeah……..this tagline SUCKS. Right along with the really heinous artwork. It’s a good thing the book had been previously published and people already loved the story. Ghost cows notwithstanding, if this were the original cover, who knows if The Shining would have gotten off the ground?
And just for fun, I threw in a cover that was done by artist Andrew Chan as an entry for the 50 Watts’ Polish Book Cover Contest: I like this better than the ones that someone paid for. Though I do seem to say that a lot about a lot of things. I dunno, maybe it’s just me but it seems to really capture the creepy factor of the story where the other two kinda don’t.
And as promised we’ve also got poster fan art that shows how different people interpret the same story, for example, this awesome one by artist Laz Marquez. (Be sure to check out their other offerings as well. Awesome sauce!)
I love the colors. LOVE LOVE LOVE. The horrendous carpet that Danny rides over constantly with his Big Wheel that no one can forget, the outline of Jack with the Axe, the door that I would probably guess represents the infamous room 237. What’s not to love? It makes me want to try my hand at doing a minimalist M/M genre cover. What? It could be interesting!
Then there’s this one from Nick Tassone:
The icy blue grey of winter in the midnight black sky. The maze that makes up the murder weapon of choice. It’s simple but it’s so strong. It’s damn creepy and damn spectacular!
And finally this one from artist Robert Olah:
The blood red typewriter, singular, alone, being suffocated in a sea of blackness with no choice but to do its master’s bidding. Does it represent Jack doing the bidding of the hotel and how there is no escape except what he believes is the one sliver of light that he thinks is his writing? Remember what I said about the hotel twisting his words? Yep, I think this poster captures Jacks predicament, and I think it does it damn well!
I hope I’ve succeed in showing you something a bit different this week. Much like the bad covers a few weeks back, I’d like to think that I’ve managed to make you pause and ruminate a bit, at least for fun if nothing else. I also hope that it’s been fun exploring the notion of how all it takes is one great story to instill so much art in so many different ways for so many different people. All with varying tastes, talents, and clearly *raises eyebrow at 1990’s Shining cover* expectations.
Hope you all enjoyed this week wanderings. This is me signing off.
Have a great day and may the good books be with you!
All thoughts and comments are the reviewers only and not the viewpoints of others. If I’ve made you angry, stepped on any toes, or otherwise ruffled any feathers, I do apologize. This is just for fun, and written in the hopes that it will help fledgling book authors and artists to grow and learn.