Cover Design: Decapitation Blues

Enough with the Queen of Hearts routine…

I’m so tired of the beheadings. Book covers these days, particularly in certain genres, have become like the French bloody Revolution. Everywhere I look, there seem to be pathetic bodies splayed across covers, their heads severed by the slice of a printer’s trimming machine, and cast off into the Twilight Zone beyond the Margin. These poor bastards’ true faces will never be seen again, never be known, they are forever condemned to wear the ghost face of some character from the book, a face which only exists in a myriad of subtlety different forms in the minds of a myriad of readers.

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I suspect the trend started in romances, all those buff shirtless male protagonists, their heads chopped off by vicious if well-intentioned cover designers, who wanted to leave the particulars of Lord Hottshtuff’s manly-but-kind visage to the imagination of the reader. Soon, the women on those covers joined them, first turning their backs to the reader, then losing their own heads over the whole thing.

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Like a cancer, it has spread. Other genres began to join the melee, lopping off character’s heads on science fiction books, murder mysteries (alright, possibly an appropriate choice there), thrillers, fantasies, even westerns. Now I’m seeing it on mainstream literary fiction and nonfiction.

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So now I have hope it will stop. Now, it’s no longer just “business as usual” in the ghettos of genre. Now the hysteria and the beheadings have reached uptown, and now rich white people are being affected by it. And now someone will Do Something to put a stop to this madness. Won’t they?

Maybe not. Maybe a few Someones will make a few speeches about how awful it all is, and how those models who sacrificed their heads will never be forgotten, and we’ll all go back to reading as usual, and forget. And then it will happen again…