Not all genre covers must feature ladies in brass corsets or hooded men.
We've updated our photo album to include seventeen examples of recent genre covers featuring design sensibilities we'd really, really like to encourage. Unfortunately, there's not a single paranormal romance cover among them. We'll keep our eyes peeled.
After the jump, our thoughts about each book.
Fragile Things: Headline, 2006.
Description: Headline rereleased all of Gaiman's titles with this new design sensibility - a simple, interesting graphic on a plain background. His name is large but the silver text on the white background doesn't overwhelm the title or the graphic. They're striking individually and collectively.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Random House, 2000.
Description: Despite being pretty busy, this cover conveys a lot of necessary information. The title is in period-appropriate font, and the enlarged comics-panel background has a modern Roy Lichtenstein sensibility while reassuring the genre reader that, yes, this is a book about comics.
The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. Viking, 2006.
Description: No lie, we picked this one up because we liked the cover. The dustjacket is a gorgeous translucent blue acetate, and the text font suggests a Victorian - though not necessarily steampunk - aesthetic.
Lori. IDW, 2009.
Description: One of Bloch's later novels, we picked up this 20th anniversary edition of Lori both because we're Bloch fans and because we love the artist IDW commissioned, Ben Templesmith. This cover is a great introduction to the artistic sensiblities of both men: horror-inflected pulp. It's also damned striking.
Crooked Little Vein. WM Morrow, 2007.
Description: Black background, white text, simple silver graphic. This is a beautiful cover.
The Reef. Pendragon Press, 2008.
Description: Not all covers need big-name authors or major publishing houses to be great, as Mark Charan Newton's debut novel proves. This is simple and compelling, combining little more than a stock photo and a squid icon to create something that really stands out.
The Passage. Orion, 2010.
Description: This is a quick and dirty horror cover - but no less effective for it. Sepia-toned photo closeup of a haunted little girl, check. Appropriately weathered font, check. Compelling tag-line, check.
Devices and Desires. Orbit, 2005.
Description: Another simple, effective cover. In a genre of dust jackets crowded with hooded men wielding enormous swords, this promises something else: something quiet, elegant, and interesting.
Market Forces. Ordbilder, 2007.
Description: Leave it to the Swedes to give Richard Morgan the cover he deserves: white-collars beating the shit out of each other. This is a brilliant cover design: the subdued text up top is a superb counterweight to the frenetic action across the book's bottom third.
The War of the Worlds. New York Review Books, reissue date unknown.
Description: A gorgeous reissue of NYRB's classic edition of War of the Worlds, this takes Edward Gorey's brilliant aesthetic and smacks it around a bit. Adding acid pinks and greens and oranges make this edition scream for attention. Ah, Gorey. Often imitated, but never exceeded.
Zoo City. Angry Robot, 2010.
Description: We've discussed how lovely this cover is elsewhere, but Zoo City deserves another mention. The artist used the title itself to convey aspects of the novel, from the fractured chaos of the setting to the frenetic energy of the plot, with representations of animals angry, fearful and content in every letter. This cover promises "if you like me, you'll like what's inside me." (And then totally delivers.)
Dr. No. Penguin 2008.
Description: How do you get people to keep buying copies of books they already own? You begin by designing new covers. This was the first in Penguin's reissue of the Fleming Bond novels, all of which boast the same gorgeous style of art. This is classic 007: a nod to mid-century style, overlaid with a modern design sensibility.
The Complete Chronicles of Conan. Gollancz, 2006.
Description: Another way to repackage books that people already own: take pulp material and give it an elegant new treatment. This reassures return readers that their taste is just as worthwhile as those bozos who collect Folio Society books, while attracting those bozos who collect Folio Society books.
No Present like Time. Gollancz, 2005.
Description: Swainston's been well-served by Gollancz in the cover art department. Her covers are simple, elegant and striking, a palliative to all those other high-fantasy epics with their bemuscled barbarians. It also serves a slightly more insidious purpose, reassuring readers that yes, although this is a lady author, she's not writing just another paranormal romance.
The Homecoming. Collins Design, 2006.
Description: Not only is this cover art gorgeous, it helps sell Bradbury to younger readers who might be more familiar with the artist - famous for his collaborations with Neil Gaiman - than the author. For those not familiar with either, however, this cover promises Lovecraft meets the Bates Motel... quite a combination.
Sharp Teeth. William Heinemann, 2007.
Description: Another striking image, black and white with just enough detail to make it creepy. Check out the ridges on the inside of the dog's mouth! Black, white, red, and ferocious dog: this is another classic horror cover with a brilliant design sensibility.
Rivers of London. Gollancz, 2011.
Description: I'd hang this over the fireplace if it were a poster. It's visually arresting, with that blood-like river coursing through a field of text. But it's best feature is in its detail: the more time you spend looking at it, the more you discover to delight and fascinate, from a Catherine Tate quote to tiny drawings of an elephant and a castle. This is, simply put, a marvelous dust jacket.