Tuesday, September 14, 2004

KING COVERS: The Stand (1978)

So after waiting three days to get to this entry, so that I could review the covers for the book that involved a deadly super-flu while I suffered through my own cold, I'm now feeling actually not quite so bad now that it's come time to write my cover review for the stand.

Ouch, that sentence was too damn long.

This is a great book, a book considered by many to be King's best. And while I'd agree that it's certainly good I have a number of books that I put above this one (I've already named The Shining as my favourite, and IT takes second place). What's disappointing is that, for a great book, my cover options as severely limited.

My gut tells me this has more to do with my source for the cover material than it does with actual cover designs. I'm sure there have been more cover designs than this. Doesn't matter much to me, though, because this is what I've got to work with.

I've also really noticed tonight how small some of these cover designs are, and how, if you've never seen the cover before, you might not be entirely sure what it is you're looking at. And, unfortunately, I haven't seen many of these cover designs before. So there might be a few moments of "your guess is as good as mine."

C'est la vie. Onto the covers.

Do I even need to say it? Do I? Okay, I will. This cover -- the original Doubleday hardcover edition -- is the winner. I shouldn't need to point that out. This is simply a fantastic cover. The image is taken from a Goya painting and while it doesn't exactly depict anything that actually took place in the book, it captures the "Good vs. Evil" so perfectly that the image could have been created for this book specifically.

I remember the first time I saw this cover. My jaw dropped to the floor. My eyes bugged out. I knew that had to read this novel.

And I did. And it was good.

I could go off on this cover -- one of the best covers on a King novel of all time -- but I won't. Instead, I'll move on to covers that are significantly less fantastic. Shall we?

The first paperback edition -- from Signet -- is the first copy I actually read. Years after I read the book I realized that the cover image depicted a shadowy face with a nuclear missle in the background, but at the time that I originally read the book my mind superimposed the missle onto the shadowy face, giving him a bizarre, elongated, beak-nose. This was what turned me away from the book originally -- as great as King might have been, I really wasn't interested in a story about some evil creature that had been cursed with a beak.

Don't judge a book by it's cover, right?

The cover does kind of portray the content in the novel, but in such a vague and hard to understand way that it's almost not worth noting.

These two covers, both from the UK, appear to use the same image, at two different sizes. Unfortunately, I'm not really sure what it's a picture of. A guy with blood running from his eyes? Maybe, but in the book people die from the flu, not ebola. The red streaks also remind me of a Japanese image, but I can't think of what it is right now. And besides, I doubt it has much to do with The Stand.

This is an interesting one, from Spain. The Devil, which is an appropriate image, stands behind...a folk singer? Not so appropriate.

Unless that's supposed to be Larry Underwood, author of the fictional song, "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?" in which case...okay, a bit more appropriate, I guess.

Again, this one -- from Sweden -- gets close. It appears to show a shadowy, perhaps menacing, character stand in front of a decamated city, which pretty much nails a big part of the book on the head. Still, there's something about the figure -- the hint of a belly, maybe -- that drifts the cover towards comedy where, of course, it loses points. So close...and yet so far.

This cover, from Turkey, will take the honourable mention for tonight, assuming it's showing what I think it's showing. It's too small to tell for sure. If only King's name wasn't so bloody huge...

But to my eye, it looks like the mushroom cloud from a nuclear weapon in the background, while a single omnipotent eye peers out from the centre of the destruction.

If that is what it's a picture of, then it's captured the feel the novel perfectly. Destruction, desolation, and a strange, super-natural force struggling to take advantage of the chaos. Beautiful.

If it's not a picture of what I think it is...well, then it should be.

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