Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Cover Art

Science fiction, in my opinion, is one of those genres that lends itself exceptionally well to art. Admittedly, some of the art that is produced for the genre is incredibly cliché, with ray guns, aliens, and spaceships garishly splashed across the cover. I have noticed that frequently, there seem numerous instances where the art does not seem to match what is inside the book.

But numerous, talented artists have made the amazing worlds come to life. An excellent and recent example is the episodic Human Division by John Scalzi, where every episode’s cover was painted by John Harris. On all 13 covers, the title and author dominate, but in the middle is a small yetexcellent example of sci-fi cover art. Each is done with a subdued palette and the minimalist subject matter relates beautifully to the story within.

There is also the cover for Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey. The artist, Daniel Dociu, makes excellent use of foreshortening, perspective, and scale to create a dynamic cover that truly works with the book.

What prompted this post is that I recently stumbled across this article from the rebooted Omni magazine (Omni was a sci-fi magazine that ran from 1978-1998 and is currently undergoing an online revival) that reveals some of the original art done by JohnSchoenherr for Frank Herbert’s 1965 Dune. While Dune may not have the cult following of Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, is it just as compelling and influential. The most notable attempts to visually capture Dune are by Peter Lynch (1984) and Syfy (2000), each with mixed reviews. But, the work by Schoenherr captures what I envisioned the planet to be when I first read it years ago. Apparently, I am not the only one to think that as Herbert himself praised Schoenherr for the accuracy of his work. Stylistically, the works are obviously dated to the 60’s, but that does not detract from the simple elegance with which he portrays Dune and the characters therein.

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