Monday 30 May 2011

"There is a shortage of perfect breasts in this world; 'twould be a pity to damage yours."*

Here's a wonderful submission in the awful and inappropriate cover category from Amie-June Brumble. I'll let her tell the tale:

You're probably familiar with the story of The Princess Bride, either in book or movie form. Fairy tale romance, a princess, a dashing pirate, etc. I knew the story mostly from the much-loved '80s film with Wallace Shawn and Andre the Giant. Recently, I decided to pick up a copy of the book, and went to my local glorious bookstore (Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA). I found two or three copies of the usual cover, showing Buttercup and Wesley running, and...this!

It utterly astounds me the cover image for this fairy tale manages to make it look like horror/tentacle porn.

Naturally, I bought it. It's one of the tackiest things I own. Fun pastime: cover up the title of the book with your hand, show it to people, and ask them what book they think it is. The responses you get are very interesting.

And here's the cover in question:

Ballantine Books has done themselves proud! The artwork is by Esteban Maroto, and I have no idea if it was actually done for this book, or just grabbed from the files as a case of 'It's a fantasy book, this will do!'. Maroto is a Spanish comics artist whose best-known work is a mix of psychedelic 1970s trippiness and sex. Here are a couple of random pages from two different comics by him to give you the idea--click for bigger versions. (Full comics and more Marotoana are to be found here)

* It's from the book, chapter 8--it seemed too appropriate not to use.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Soft Skull in Deep Focus: The Sequel

Some more covers have emerged for the Soft Skull Press 'Deep Focus' series, in which writers look at length about the sort of classic films that tend to be ignored by more highbrow critics. Here are the three I've previously posted...

..and here are the next three in the series (the Lethal Weapon cover was shown before, but has now changed).

I now know the designer: it's Spacesick (possibly not his real name), who was responsible for (and probably hired on the strength of) his very clever 'I Can Read Movies' series of films-as-book-covers (see the full set here).

Caustic Kindle Critic Follow-Up

In the comments to a recent post mocking awful ebook covers, the sharp-eyed Craig D. directed me to this Sherlock Holmes ebook, featuring the cutest, least threatening Hound of the Baskervilles ever seen.

The same publisher also has these two unlikely covers on their list.

As inapt as these 3 covers are, at least this publisher releases their public domain ebooks at no cost, so more power to them!

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Chatterley Bonanza

D. H. Lawrence and his Lady Chatterley's Lover has cropped up quite a bit round here recently. I thought it might be entertaining to look at some of the current and past covers for this famous book (often famous for the wrong reasons). The two opening images here are lithograhs (by a Peter Schem?) from a 1956 French edition.

Let's start with the mind-addling variety of editions currently in print from Penguin...

The 50th anniversary edition from last year

The standard Penguin Classics edition, with art by Aaron Robinson (see here)

The current Penguin Essentials edition with art by Lucy McLauchlan (see here)

The Penguin Graphic Classics edition, with art from Chester Brown (click for much bigger version)

The Penguin Hardback Classics edition, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith (interviewed here)

The Popular Penguins edition

Six different versions of one book in print from the one publisher? Not weird at all.

Then there are Penguin's various past editions, some of which are...

Popular Classics edition, 1990s

Various Penguin 20th Century Classics editions, late 1980s to mid-1990s
Penguin US, 1948

Film tie-in

Penguin, 1960

Penguin, 1978, photo by fashion/erotica photographer Harri Peccinotti (thanks, Gould!)

Penguin, 1980

Penguin Designer Classic by Paul Smith, 2006

Essential Penguin, 1990s

Penguin Modern Classic, early 2000s

Penguin US, 1946

Then there's the new edition from Vintage Classics, with a photo by Carla van de Puttelaar (see here for more)...

Some of you may remember a couple of awful ebook covers for other Lawrence novels. You'll be thrilled to know that the same company now has a Lady Chatterley edition to match, with Lady C and Mellors rather unexpectedly getting it on in an empty theatre.

This is not the only shitty ebook version out there. For example...

Mellors's smooth moods were her only distraction from the rising damp from Alpha Centauri

Wiped, but left toilet paper between buttocks
But let's get back to physical books from the past, both in English and not...

Ace, 1958: the erotic possibilities of a well-trimmed lawn

Tor, Argentina, 1939

Avon, 1950: big, big hair

Avon, 1956 (with bonus Lawrence): smaller hair makes for a useful hand-rest

Berkley, 1958: lipstick

Colombian edition, 1981: remember the era when every photo had this sort of soft-focus effect? Wasn't it awful?

Gallimard edition, French, 1963

French edition, 1985

Gallimard edition, French, 1960s: more scary hair

French edition, 1969

French edition, 1972: The Joy of Sex and Strategically Placed Vegetation
German edition, 1973

US edition, Grove, 1982

Civilização Brasileira edition, Brazil, designed by the amazing Eugênio Hirsch
Signet, 1950

Signet, 1957

Signet, 1959

Signet, 1959

Signet 1962: now it's a classic, we can show breasts

Signet, 2000s

Travellers Pocket Edition, Canada, 1949: the subtle version

Travellers Pocket Edition, Canada, 1949: the saucy version
Polish edition, 1991: hair big enough to contain a house

Spanish edition, 1978
And finally, a little further afield, the Hunt Emerson comic adaption...

..with the 'not for sale to wives and servants' line being a reference to one of the sillier utterances of Mervyn Griffith-Jones, prosecutor in the 1960 obscenity trial against Penguin Books for publishing the full version of Lady Chatterley's Lover, a trial summarised in this book with a cunning cover by David Pearson.