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Old 04-15-2012, 02:42 PM
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Default Judging Books By Their Cover: The Excellent Book Covers Thread

Talkin' 'bout graphic design with yer graphic design-talkin' net!



Let's open with possibly my favourite book cover of all time; The first edition English printing of Battle Royale:


(I actually had to scan my own copy and edit it a bit to remove most of the wear and tear to get this; there aren't any good scans online)

I'm a big fan of the type of stark, monochromatic design that makes up Battle Royale's first cover, and it's really what drew me to the book in the first place. To be honest I'm not sure I would have even touched it with the current cover), but what really made me appreciate it was that I didn't notice the hidden silhouette of a rifle between the two kids. It's subtly integrated and perfectly summarizes the book in one simple image. Good stuff.
What I didn't notice until now was that the "I" in Takami's name is dotted with a cartoon bomb. That's... kind of odd.

I still have no idea what the nine airplanes flying in formation is supposed to indicate, considering that the island in Battle Royale was patrolled by boats.

Last edited by teg; 04-15-2012 at 02:43 PM. Reason: better joke
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Old 04-15-2012, 02:52 PM
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Burning Wheel Gold is a gorgeous book, inside and out. The best cover of the books I've been reading, whose covers are boring (Blink) or bullshit (The First Book of Lankhmar).

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Old 04-15-2012, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
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but what really made me appreciate it was that I didn't notice the hidden silhouette of a rifle between the two kids.
! Wonderful!

The covers to all off Tezuka's Buddah are all beautiful and simple but my favorite is the Hardcover edition of Devadatta. I wish I could find an image without the sash because it really is a gorgeous object.

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Old 04-15-2012, 03:14 PM
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EDIT: LOOOOOKIIIIIIIIIIIIII



Expect basically every second post I make in this thread to be an Osamu Tezuka and/or Chip Kidd cover. This one is both! Behold, Apollo's Song:



Apollo's Song already looks pretty good in scans, but you really need to see it in the wild to get it.



I apologize on behalf of whoever it was who decided to put a Miku in there. It was the only picture I could find and I didn't feel like photographing my copy

The middle band of colour is actually 1/3 of a dust jacket. It's permanently glued in place on the inside, but can be lifted a little from the cover when the book is open to expose the girl's towel.
Apart from the genius of that middle band, what I appreciate about this cover is that it's perfectly representative of the content. Prior to the Chip Kidd covers commissioned by Vertical, English releases of Tezuka's work either used cover paintings he produced years after the fact (often cropped or badly-scaled), or awful covers that looked like they belonged on a Newbury medal book from the nineties meant to hide Tezuka's cartoony artwork.



pictured: the dark ages

Basically, starting with Buddha, the more recent releases of Tezuka's work have all used the original artwork of their contents to their advantage rather than writing them off as a detriment. Tezuka's bold lines make for clean, stylish pop-art; and this cover is a perfect example of how his signature look doesn't have to be regarded as detracting from the mature themes of the story.
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Old 04-15-2012, 03:49 PM
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Has Gene Wolfe ever not had a terrible cover? For such an esteemed writer you'd think his books would be presented with some class. In Japan though, The Book of the New Sun got covers drawn by Yoshitaka Amano(!) drawn in his classic style.







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Old 04-15-2012, 04:19 PM
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The moment I saw it I had to read a page or two, and then I had to have it. The title image hit just the right note of cheese to draw me in.
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Old 04-15-2012, 06:16 PM
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This is the only book cover I can ever remember being really impressed by.

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Old 04-15-2012, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teg View Post
I'm a big fan of the type of stark, monochromatic design that makes up Battle Royale's first cover, and it's really what drew me to the book in the first place. To be honest I'm not sure I would have even touched it with the current cover), but what really made me appreciate it was that I didn't notice the hidden silhouette of a rifle between the two kids.
Mind = BLOWN I've had this book since it was first released and I never even noticed that!

Quote:
I still have no idea what the nine airplanes flying in formation is supposed to indicate, considering that the island in Battle Royale was patrolled by boats.
I always thought they were some vague allusion to the authoritarian, militaristic regime that the book's Japan lives in. It's a random addition, to be sure, but it fits the themes a little bit.

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Hey Firion good to see you working again.

Some of my favorite covers are the Josh Kirby Discworld ones. They're so indescribably colorful and maddeningly detailed! Even if he's a tad too fond of rolls of fat, or mysteriously voluptuous heroines in diaphanous clothing, or making the Witches look like melted candles. And the best ones of the lot are:





The Snuff hardcover is pretty nifty too:

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Old 04-15-2012, 06:57 PM
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I like Josh Kirby's art in general, but the man didn't really seem to pay a lot of attention to the text sometimes. His Rincewind was a white-bearded old man rather than a younger, rangy type. Etc.
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:17 PM
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Yeah, it's like he kinda got a rough outline of which character was what, and decided to do his own thing (even his CMOT Dibbler looks like a gnarled troll) but Pterry himself joked about that sort of thing on his old Usenet group.

Meanwhile, the Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics series is, well, pretty classy. But while they look elegant enough (or hilariously mismatched in the case of Hitchhiker's Guide) few of them stop you in your tracks and grab you to demand attention. This one, luckily, is one of those few:

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Old 04-15-2012, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki View Post
! Wonderful!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zef View Post
Mind = BLOWN I've had this book since it was first released and I never even noticed that!
I actually meant to finish that sentence with "until I was on my second reading of the book, about a year after getting it." It's pretty darn subtle.


One more before I go to bed. This one's a Tezuka/Kidd co-production again, the first printing of Ode To Kirihito.


Another enlargement of actual artwork from the book, depicting its main character. But with a twist. Remember that partial book jacket from a few posts ago? The one that only covered a third of the surface area? This book, released around the same time had a vertical half-jacket on the front cover that could be slid back and forth to vary between Kirihito as he is at the beginning of the book, and as he is after he contracts the disease known as Monmow that turns people into what are essentially mutant furries.



actually I think they look most like the werewolves from the third Harry Potter movie, but that's just me

It's a pretty clever mechanism with a fairly obvious downside. See how bashed up the jacket is in that top picture? I would scan my own copy, but even with my usual care mine's not holding up much better. The jacket gets caught on things easily, which can lead to complications even if you're only keeping it on a shelf. It's no wonder that current edition is instead split into two books, one with each position as the cover. That and how improbably gargantuan the book itself is.
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Old 04-15-2012, 07:42 PM
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oh man Zef my next pick was going to be Jurassic Park but that manages to be even better.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parish View Post
I like Josh Kirby's art in general, but the man didn't really seem to pay a lot of attention to the text sometimes. His Rincewind was a white-bearded old man rather than a younger, rangy type. Etc.
I always liked how he drew Twoflower as having four literal eyes instead of just wearing glasses.
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Old 04-15-2012, 08:19 PM
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aaaaaarggh
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:49 PM
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The recent reissues of Vladimir Nabokov's books are gorgeous and make me want to own new copies.





Also these:


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Old 04-16-2012, 12:42 AM
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Wow those Nabokovs are amazing.



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Old 04-16-2012, 12:45 AM
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Full front, back, and insets of the Tony Millionaire cover for MOBY DICK. This is literally the only book I have ever bought for its cover. Wish I'd thought to get Millionaire to sign it when I saw him a few months ago.
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Old 04-16-2012, 01:11 AM
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Book covers? Well, check out 50Watts' freaky, retro offerings. Since I know the Poles tend to be pretty nutso when it comes to designing cover art for films and books, I'll select a Polish art inspired book cover for 1984:



But check out the rest.
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Old 04-16-2012, 02:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki View Post
Has Gene Wolfe ever not had a terrible cover? For such an esteemed writer you'd think his books would be presented with some class. In Japan though, The Book of the New Sun got covers drawn by Yoshitaka Amano(!) drawn in his classic style.
Plus he did some of the Western covers (apparently he does all the covers in Japan) for the collected Eternal Champion volumes.

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Old 04-16-2012, 07:05 AM
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Damnit, Zef!




most of these I've always wanted to read and they're all so reasonably priced and I'm trying to save money and goddamnit zef
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:15 AM
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Is it wrong that I find all of those exceptionally cheesy?
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:19 AM
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That is not an entirely inappropriate reaction, since they're all more evocative of the artwork of the time when the book was written or the influences they left than anything.


And now for a book that I found interesting but never actually managed to finish, just to break up the string of Tezuka: Schulz and Peanuts.


I don't think that Schulz ever intended for Charlie Brown's shirt to be important (Charlie Brown originally had a plain shirt, the stripe was added in the first year as a way to make the strip more visually interesting), but it kind of subconsciously became more and more iconic as time went on. This book really could have just been called "Schulz," without the "And Peanuts" subtitle, since the yellow background and stripe already perfectly indicates exactly everything that the audience already knows about its subject.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stiv View Post
Full front, back, and insets of the Tony Millionaire cover for MOBY DICK.
That whole series is amazing, and when I saw the thread title I immediately wanted to post the cover of Candide designed by Chris Ware.



Sorry it's too small to make out the type, but trust me that it is hilarious and appropriate for the book.

EDIT: I think this is all of them, but I'm not sure.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:57 AM
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The Amano Michael Moorcock covers remind me of a few of my favorite fantasy covers: when White Wolf collected and re-published Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, they got Mike Mignola.

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Old 04-16-2012, 08:04 AM
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The recent reissues of The Riplaid are perfectly evocative.









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Old 04-16-2012, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Raider Dr. Jones View Post
The Amano Michael Moorcock covers remind me of a few of my favorite fantasy covers: when White Wolf collected and re-published Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, they got Mike Mignola.
That is so much nicer than the cover of the books I have. You can see Lankhmar! Fafhrd actually has red hair on that cover!
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Old 04-16-2012, 08:09 AM
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And now we go right back to Tezuka with a half-biography-half-art-book coffee table tome, The Art of Osamu Tezuka.


Another clean and straightforward design, using a section reappropriated from one of the Astro Boy painted covers restored and enlarged surprisingly nicely, especially considering just how huge this book is. That's not what makes it special though.


That picture of Astro Boy is actually a huge cardboard cutout, and all of the text is printed onto a clear plastic dust jacket. I've never managed to get the thing off, myself, but the book could theoretically be reduced to just a picture of Astro against a red background. And there's something special about the back too. See that sticker on the front promising a DVD documentary?


Rather than having a separate case or cardboard sleeve or something, it's embedded right in the cover. You just swing a plastic flap back from the inside to remove it. Incidentally, my copy looks a little bit different (all of the text is white, instead of having yellow mixed in). I'm not sure if it's a regional difference or what. I really need to hurry up and finish this someday. I've drawn it out for years to savour it, but it's a gorgeous book in general.
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Old 04-16-2012, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
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That is so much nicer than the cover of the books I have. You can see Lankhmar! Fafhrd actually has red hair on that cover!
Yeah, a lot of editions of Leiber's stuff are pretty severely pulpy, and not in the good way.

I did not know until just now that Mignola had also done some covers for mainstream publishers. This is an inneresting cover on an edition of Heart of Darkness.

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Old 04-17-2012, 11:48 AM
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This blog is relevant to the thread (and excellent).
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Old 04-19-2012, 01:08 PM
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I adore the cover to Crown of Shadows by C.S. Friedman. I am going to buy this print if it's the last thing I do.

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Old 04-19-2012, 01:33 PM
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Can you explain what you like about it? Too me it looks just like every other fantasy epic.
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