The Artiste

AzureBondsReprintCoverIt is, of course, axiomatic that traditional authors, save perhaps for really famous, powerful ones, have no influence over the cover designs of their books, and that, generally speaking, they hate the covers they get.  This is one of the reasons for self-publishing, actually – at least an indie author can pick their own cover art, and title for that matter.  Of course, a lot of indie authors don’t really have the wherewithal to design a good book cover on their own, and let’s face it, a lot of authors have no idea what kind of book cover art would be helpful in selling something, which is why traditional publishers try to cut them out of the process.

But it is still disheartening when a book ends up with a cover that has nothing to do with the story, or clumsily misrepresents events, characters, or settings within it (and not to put too fine a point on it, but this often involves boobs), because it shows a certain lack of respect for the tale.  An author hates to think people aren’t carefully reading the book, and it is even worse when someone who was, in fact, paid to read the thing couldn’t be bothered.

That brings us to Azure BondsAzure Bonds is a Forgotten Realms book, which to the uninitiated, is like a Drangonlance book only a bit darker (Dragonlance, to the even less initiated, is a series of novels written by various folks set in a particular Dungeons and Dragons campaign world).  Now, the casual observer of that book cover would assume that we’re looking at a classic example of the phenomenon I was describing, right down to the boobs.  Obviously, that armor would be no real use in a fight, and that woman doesn’t exactly look like a grizzled warrior.

But here’s the thing (Spoiler alert for anyone planning on reading a Forgotten Realms novel published in 1988 who hasn’t quite gotten around to it yet) – that armor is explained in the story, and figures prominently (so to speak) in a scene late in the book as a plot point.  Likewise, the peculiarly un-battered appearance of the main character, who is, after all, supposed to be a warrior, is a plot point.

So, by golly, that cover art was clearly put together by someone who carefully read the book, and got clear to the end – kudos to him.  I had, in fact, spun quite a fantasy in my head of the cover artist as a tortured soul, driven to draw cheesecake by corporate masters at TSR, inc., but distressed over the thought of turning out something that lacked fidelity with the plot that Kate Novak and Jeff Grubb had labored so hard over.  “I’m an artist, dammit!” he shouted to the walls of his studio in my imaginings.  “Not some hack turning out prurient nonsense that has nothing to do with the plot!  The story is all!”  Then he reached the penultimate chapter, and realized that Novak and Grubb had gifted him with a way to satisfy both his own artistic integrity and the suits at TSR.

Well, that was my fantasy anyway, until I happened to check out the artist’s website.


~ by smwilliams on August 15, 2013.