Same Old Cover Art Scrutiny

Over the weekend I found the video Doug the SciFiGuy made of UF and paranormal cover art that features women in similar poses. “there is a uncommonly frequent use of women in left, right, front and back poses in disturbingly similar styles among a diversity of authors. Almost as if there was a branding guideline for the genre (or the art directors are all related)

First of all, I’d like to know what other pose is possible for women if “left, right, front and back poses” are overdone to the point of being “disturbingly similar”. Perhaps the women should pose upside-down for variety’s sake? Or maybe art directors should start suggesting yoga poses? Pilates poses? Seriously, what other poses are there??

I understand attacking the overuse of the rear shot. Really. It’s been done to death, shall we say. But so has the backlash. This is not a new argument.

The SciFiGuy suggests “the initial style was emulating or paying tribute to the covers from the Kushiel fantasy books [first seen in 2002] by Jacqueline Carey”.  It is possible Carey’s cover for Kushiel’s Dart (first edition: June 2001) is part of the origin of the trend. Carey’s covers needed to convey these were not the usual epic fantasy fare. I think a half-naked woman with a giant tattoo expresses the prominance of sex and pain in these stories quite well. But in 2002, Carey’s books were not the only stories featuring sex and the supernatural. That year, Laurell K. Hamilton’s books were repackaged as mass market paperbacks by Jove. The covers featured scantily-clad women with artistic projections over various body parts, certainly evoking the image of a tattoo, though body ink did not feature in the books.

So, yes, these images have been around since 2002. Yes, they are part of “a branding guideline for the genre”. Yes, I’m tired of hearing about how old and overdone these covers are. And yes, I’ve come to realize something about these covers.

I want to hear some ideas and suggestions for UF & paranormal cover art. Again, what pose is possible if not “left, right, front and back”? I think cover art critics are all too quick to criticize. Do the homework. Women are buying these covers. Ask yourself why. Ask yourself what should go on UF & paranormal covers, and will women buy it?

Don’t be a bad mechanic. Don’t tell people they need to fix something that is really working just fine.


3 comments on “Same Old Cover Art Scrutiny

  1. I think his post and video were meant humorously – I certainly took it as such. Some of the comments are hysterical, particularly the one from Ilona Andrews.

  2. I think it is kind of weird that scantily clad women are on the front of all the Anita Blake books. I assume that the main readership is female. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to have scantily clad men?
    Just a thought.

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