Wednesday, October 31, 2007

That Double Vision Got the Best of Me

A while back, Jeff Pierce, the rompin' stompin' head honcho at THE RAP SHEET peeled the lid back on one of many nasty little truths of the publishing industry that nobody likes to admit: their covers often suck.

Startling news, I know, but he's since continued in that vein, routinely lambasting the perpetrators, "especially those that use the same imagery, duplicate the arrangement of elements, or bang repeatedly on a theme."

And oh, what glorious yucks there are to be had, gazing at the evidence. The line-up in his August 26, 2007 post "Can We Retire These Photos Yet?" tells all you need to know about the state of cover art these days.

As I said, I had quite the chuckle, checking out stock covers that have been recycled not once, but twice or even three times. All in recent years, and ll on books by some of the most respected writers around. This isn't just banging on a theme -- it's gangbanging on a theme. Yes, I laughed, laughed, laughed.

And then it happened to me.

The first short story I ever sold, "Two Fingers," appeared way back in 2001 in ICED, edited by Kerry Schooley and Peter Sellers, which billed itself as "The New Noir Anthology of Cold, Hard Fiction." It sported a jaunty photo of a smoking gun barrel, the warmth of the gold earthy hues of the photo contrasting nicely, I thought, with the often cold, grm stories inside -- and the implications of the photo itself.

I was proud to be included in that book, and pleased that the cover wasn't an embarrassment. I thought the designer, Mike O'Connor, did a heckuva job.

And then Marc Strange's SUCKER PUNCH arrived at my door. As an editor and reviewer my mailbox is always full of treasures, and nothing delights me more, this errant Canadian, than a package from home. I slashed open the envelope and dumped out the book, flipped it to the back cover, and started to read. Joe Grundy, ex-fighter. Check. Tough guy hotel dick, now working some swank joint in downtown Vancouver. Check. Dipshit, suddenly rich kid gets a premature trip to the pearly gates, while on Joe's watch, and Joe has to do what a Joe's gotta do. Check. Sounds good. I'm always in the market for a good Canadian P.I. and this one looks promising. Very promising, actually, after scanning the first few pages. This is going right to the top of my TBR pile.

Then I flipped the book back to the front cover. Talk about a sucker punch.

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Blogger John McFetridge said...

Ah, the perils of stock photos. It is a good image, though, I can understand why it gets used.

Hope the new book is as good as Iced, I'd like to see a Vancouver PI.

10:45 AM, November 01, 2007  

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