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Tag: book covers

The Alt-Hero We Deserve

I will admit, I’m not the hugest fan of comics. (Usually the stories are too simplistic and the art does nothing to further the plot or characterization.) I’ve spent a lot of time trying to learn why other people like them so much, to no avail.

The visual mode of storytelling is intriguing, so I support them in theory, if not in fact. There are a few that I adore. WatchmenTintinHellboy.

But here’s the kicker: I’ve stopped reading any comic books at all these days because they’re so SJW converged. It seems like all comics these days are full of social justice this, gender bending that, all for GREAT JUSTICE (which we all know is code for “kick the white man”).

Enter Alt*Hero.

Vox Day and his crew at Castalia House have turned their evil eye toward superhero comics, and have cooked up a premise that promises to be entertaining even if it’s a little rough around the edges.

That floating star bugs the crap out of me tho

I like the idea of turning the concept of the EU into a superhero justice squad league (bad guys, of course). Alt*Hero looks to be in step with the spirit of the times, especially the rising backlash against central planning and soy and bugmen and Antifa.

The Freestartr for the project blew past the initial funding goal mere hours after the project was launched, which shows that there’s more of a market for alt-comics than I had initially thought. I figured it would get funded, but certainly not this fast.

If this project anything that’s even one-fifth as good as Watchmen, it’ll be worth it.

Pepe for Kids

I’m going to completely ignore the Antifa/Alt-Right riot that happened in my city over the weekend and talk about something that literally nobody has an objection to: children’s books.

Oh wait.

There are plenty of left-leaning children’s books that I find offensive and propagandic, and I’m sure they feel the same about this one.

Straight from the subreddit that caused Bernie Bros to stay up all night frothing at the mouth, we have The Adventures of Pepe and Pede. A heartwarming tale, I’m sure, of friendship, law and order, and hopefully a really big wall.

Quick refresher for those of you who didn’t obsessively follow the “Can’t Stump the Trump” series on YouTube:

  • Pepe is the (friendly) cartoon frog adopted by Trump fans and the Alt-Right. Pepe is especially beloved because he was once retweeted by the God Emperor himself, and Pepe has ascended to the August Ranks of Hallowed Memetics by triggering his very own creator to disown and kill him in an attempt to reclaim his character. Didn’t work. We love Pepe.
  • Pede is short for “centipede,” a term of endearment on /r/The_Donald for other Trump supporters that spawned from the use of Knife Party’s song “Centipede” for the intro to most of the “Can’t Stump the Trump” videos.

“Cant’ Stump the Trump” itself provided the seed for a whole host of spinoffs of this syntax, such as “Can’t Barrage the Farage,” which is itself quite hilarious but also completely off-topic for this post.

Back on topic, but not really, I appreciate that the illustrator is from Eastern Europe, which is probably-not-but-I’m-going-to-pretend-it-is-anyway a nod to the #SlavRight.

Anyhow, the cover is adorable, and the back cover is as well. I like the mix of blocky watercolor shapes and the expanses of watercolor that let the the colors blend more naturally, or that show the brush strokes. The color palette is bright and fun, but avoids being obviously patriotic (RED WHITE AND BLUE, WHAT) or annoyingly young (RED YELLOW AND BLUE PRIMARY COLORS OBVIOUSLY KIDS LIKE THEM). It looks like a fun book, and the Right needs to have more fun.

Now that I’ve written so much of this post it seems somewhat silly that I’m posting about this book without having read it. Perhaps it will turn out to be absolutely schlock. At this point, however, it seems worth it to support any and all explicitly Trump or right-wing art endeavors, since there are so few of them.

It’s my blog I do what I want.

Award-winning book covers vs. bestselling book covers

Every year, the AIGA (that’s the American Institute of Graphic Arts) picks their favorite books and book covers for the year. It usually yields a roundup of pretty cool graphic design. What I found interesting about this process is that they judge the physical book, apparently without consideration of ebooks. Like in most professions, what impresses people who are constantly up to their eyeballs in graphic design may not be what actually catches the eye of the people.

Considering that very few books are actually bought in person anymore, no matter how beautiful they are, most of these books are in competition with other titles on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Because I’m now curious, I’m going to compare a random smattering of the best book covers against the highest ranking book in their category. This list is from 2016, so I’m not adjusting for time or anything, but I want to see if an award-winning cover outpaces a normal, workmanlike cover. For the AIGA covers, if the book is listed in more than one category, I’ll pick the highest-ranked one.

Let’s kick off with a nod to esoteric twitter.

German Poetry


The Essential Goethe, ed. Matthew Bell
Publisher: Princeton University Press
#34 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Regional & Cultural > European > German

Parzival, Wolfram von Eschenbach
Publisher: Penguin
#1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Regional & Cultural > European > German

Not gonna lie, I am swooning a little bit over that Goethe cover: the beautiful copper color of the background, the intense blackletter typography, the way that the type frames Goethe’s eye, the playful way in which the type asserts that this is THE (only) Goethe reader that you’ll ever need. (I doubt that’s true but I appreciate the effort.) It’s so simple, yet it sings.

On the other hand, we have the standard-issue Penguin Classics cover design, which gets the job done.


German Historical Fiction

A Man Lies Dreaming, by Lavie Tidhar
Publisher: Melville House
#396 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > German

Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum
Publisher: Mariner Books
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > German

Now. These two books are designed to appeal to two completely different audiences, although they are both novels about the Jewish experience during the Holocaust. The AIGA-approved one has lots of visual references to the Soviet brutalist style. You know it’s going to be a brutal book. Our other title is a softly hand-colored vintage photograph in a style that reminds me of inspirational fiction from the mid-1990s. The typography is basic. It makes me cringe a little, but clearly it is more what people want to read.

Genre Fiction: Occult

The Way of Sorrows: The Angelus Trilogy, Part 3 by Jon Steele
Publisher: Blue Rider Press (Penguin)
#328 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Suspense > Occult

The Man of Legends, by Kenneth Johnson
Publisher: 47North (Amazon)
#1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Occult

This is a great example of a “designed” cover versus a very workmanlike cover. The Angelus Trilogy cover definitely draws my eye, and I would indeed love to have it in hardcover form, to stare at. But as we’re finding with indie publishing, a good story trumps any blemishes on the cover, and honestly, the Man of Legends cover isn’t that bad.

Short Stories

Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook, by David Galef
Publisher: Columbia University Press
#37 in Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Genres & Styles > Short Stories

100 Years of The Best American Short Stories, eds. Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
#1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Genres & Styles > Short Stories

Interesting how this is two different types of book, in the same category. One is more of a how-to manual; the other is actual short stories. (You can use those as a how-to manual if you want, but most are designed to be read for pleasure.) Despite the Brevity cover reading as “cleaner,” both covers verge on having one too many elements. There’s a lot going on. Brevity, though, definitely stands out. It reminds me of a pop-psychology book like The Power of Habit.


Database of Dreams: The Lost Quest to Catalog Humanity, by Rebecca Lemov
Publisher: Yale University Press
#70 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Counseling & Psychology > Ethnopsychology

Discipline Your Mind: Control Your Thoughts, Boost Willpower, Develop Mental Toughness, by Zoe McKey
Publisher: Kalash Media
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Counseling & Psychology > Ethnopsychology

One cover is visually intriguing, but completely unreadable. The other is mildly interesting, but clearly communicates the point of the book. Stacked rocks = discipline. It feels like the design of Database of Dreams is too clever for its own good. Unless you know what the cover looks like, it’s going to be harder to identify if you’re searching for it online, since the title is so obscured and small.

It’s clear that you don’t have a great cover to sell big (although it does need to be decent–there are no truly terrible covers on this list), and having a great cover isn’t a prerequisite to selling well in your category. Overly-clever visual presentation is not necessarily helpful in bookselling. There are a lot of other factors at play (average star rating, content of the book, marketing platforms, the competitiveness of the category, etc.) but workmanlike covers are not something that will hold a book back from first place.

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