This is a mini-rant from a 49 year old man who likes the stuff he likes and doesn't like the stuff he doesn't like... but who understands when he might be full of shit. And he usually is.
Terry Pratchett. Discworld.
I'm one of those nerdy types who isn't a total geek. Like... if you asked me who was in the C3P0 suit I'd say "there was someone in the suit??" Also, I'd say I don't know where the hyphen goes in C3P0, or if there is one. I also have never watched more than 2 or 3 original Star Trek episodes and I haven't bought a Marvel or DC or Dark Horse comic book off the shelf since the 90s. And I consider myself a comic book lover!
In short, I don't obsess over most stuff. I'm big on ideas and wee on details.
So I don't really know anything about Terry Pratchett other than he was a British author who wrote Discworld and he was, by all measures I can tell, a good man.
My discovery of Pratchett's Discworld came via an illegal download of the first few books in audio format. Wonderful stuff. Not just the books themselves, but the performance of the reader. And see... I don't know who the actual fuck read them. Some British dude* who gave such wonderful life to the characters. And they had this cheeseball echo effect on Death's voice. I loved it. I wouldn't want to hear them any other way.
|Josh Kirby killing it.|
But this isn't a post about the content or the audio. This is a post about the covers. Remember those deliciously cartoonishly evocative Josh Kirby (RIP) covers? No? See, I posted one here, right above this paragraph, for your enjoyment. I fucking love these. They make me want to pick up the book and read.
Now, I do want to acknowledge something important that seems to bug a lot of people. Kirby's covers don't seem to accurately reflect what's inside the pages. For example, famously, Twoflower is a bespecktacled tourist. He has "four eyes" because he has glasses. But Kirby painted him literally with four eyes. But, because Kirby's art was so dense and kind of hard to parse at first glance, this doesn't really bug me. Of course it might be because my exposure to Discworld came through audiobooks and I wasn't even looking at the covers**.
These covers were published, as far as I can tell, for the original editions of the paperbacks up through maybe book 26, The Thief of Time. That was 2001. Looks like Josh Kirby died in 2001 at the age of 72. I really had never known his work since I had no exposure to these books as a kid or even as a young adult. It wasn't until I was around 35 that I found them. In a short time, he has shot to the top of my favorite artists list for sure. With a bullet.
Anyway. Let's move on from 2001. I'm not going to discuss the next cover artist, Paul Kidby, because I'm not familiar with the work. What I'm going to talk about, and what is the focus of this rant, is the direction the publisher took with the reprints.
They fucking suck. I mean seriously. Look at this shit. We go from these whimsical, wondrous, fantastical paintings, lush with detail, to these spartan, plain, dull, lifeless, center justified pieces of crap?
|"For the new covers let's go full 1995 CD-ROM, who needs delicious art?"|
Sigh. I know. It's the god damn digital age. You need to think about how people interface with book covers. The spines of books, which used to tell us the title and author so we could pull them out and then be wowed by the covers, are now just the fucking covers. Because you need to see that title and author clearly in a tiny thumbnail on your digital device. There's really no need for a lush cover anymore. Fewer people are picking this up off a shelf and running their fingers over the art. It's just the reality in which we live. And I accept it.
But I don't have to like it, motherfuckers. And I don't.
Here's a video I found randomly where a guy is bitching about the same problem, but with horror covers. I feel ya, pal. I feel ya.
*His name is Nigel Planer. If you didn't think he was British, now you god damn well know it.
**Interesting point, actually. Am I so easy on Kirby because I just love his art and I have no particular connection between experiencing the stories and looking at his paintings? Maybe for others this was more jarring.