Hello again, faithful readers, and welcome back to our semi-recurring column: The Art of The Cover. This time, to celebrate publication day for his new novel-for-grown-ups The Ocean at the End of the Lane (review coming sometime soon, natch), we’re looking at the covers – both US and UK – of that master of magical fiction: Neil Gaiman.
I started reading Neil’s work right before I moved to London for a brief spell – Neverwhere seemed the perfect read to start the night before I left – but I always felt that its US cover was a bit lacking, especially when compared to the (typically uniform) UK covers that gave a bit of a sense of mystery and grittiness. As I continued through the Gaiman literary oeuvre (that is to say, not his children-children books or his extensive work in comics), I found myself picking up those UK covers and feeling moderately satisfied by the way they sat on my shelf.
But the one thing I never felt like they truly accomplished was the sense of magic inherent in Gaiman’s work. The UK cover for American Gods might be completely fitting for the content of the book itself… but it does lack a little sense of magic. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that Neil’s American publisher – Harper – would be rejacketing all of his books in a uniform style, beginning with American Gods (just in time for the anniversary). In fact, it was only the American Gods rejacket that I noted first – and then Neil tweeted (or perhaps blogged) about all of them eventually getting the rejacket treatment and I got quite excited. I mean, look at these:
Obviously, I’m a sucker for a well-done uniform cover series (see both previous entries in The Art of The Cover) – but these capture the sense of child-like wonder that is inherent in all of Gaiman’s books. They evoke Halloween as a child, they evoke that slight terror of growing up, and they evoke that mysterious sense of things “other” that seem to inhabit a world just next to ours. Each image evokes a major theme or item from the books in question (Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors obviously exceptions – short story collections and all) in a simple but powerful fashion: the doors (slash Door) from Neverwhere, the falling star from Stardust, the angel grave statue for The Graveyard Book.
Even the newest addition to the covers, that for “How to Talk to Girls at Parties”, carries a weight that belies its tiny size. Isn’t that the best thing about stories, though? They can pack an immense punch. These covers started only available on Kindle/e-readers but I’ve seen them (beginning with American Gods) leak slowly out into the universe – and I do hope that next year’s paperback release of The Ocean at the End of the Lane (I know, I know, it just got published today!) will match as well. Not to say that the covers for Ocean (especially the mysterious and gorgeous US cover) aren’t amazing – but this is, after all, all about the set.
This concludes this edition of “The Art of The Cover”. Check back soon for more features and editorials from the Raging Biblioholism staff.