A little while ago, Bookslut ran a very entertaining feature on children’s book covers featuring wizards, complete with various makeovers. I figured we here at Smart Bitch Central could
shamelessly rip off this idea
pay homage to this idea and talk about some of the classics of our genre and how their covers have evolved. First up on the chopping block: that doyenne of hearts and savages and thunder and savagely thundering hearts, Johanna Lindsey. For extra bonus funtimes, swap around the titles and covers. Hell, swap around the individual words! They’re astonishingly interchangeable. Brave the Wild Rogue! A Heart so Savage! Gentle Thunder!
This cover, perhaps more than any other, is THE classic Lindsey cover. It has that red-haired chick in a mildly creepy supplicant pose, suggesting that Humjobs Are Imminent—or maybe that crotches will be bashed with fatal force against foreheads. Difficult to tell sometimes. It has some kind of random animal freaking the fuck out in the background. And it has Fabio. Wearing Uggs. With hair dyed black—presumably because that makes him look Indian—and flowing in the wind, except in this case, the wind seems to be coming from below and directly behind him. A thundering savage, indeed. I read this book when I was seventeen years old, and to be honest, I can’t remember a goddamn thing about it other than the sex-on-a-horse scene (she wakes up! On horseback! And she’s coming like a rocket! And then they have crazy screaming balls-out sex on a galloping horsie!) and the cover. Hey, I was a horny teenager. What the hell do you expect me to find most memorable about a Johanna Lindsey novel?
And the re-make? Let’s take a look, shall we?
What the hell? From Little Blowjob on the Prairie to Little House on the Prairie. Surreal. Also, deeply deceptive of its contents. Much as the previous cover makes me cringe, it at least accurately conveyed what you found within. That cover smacks you on the face and proudly proclaims “Feisty redhead heroine alert! You’ll probably want to smack the shit out of her before the book is over! Lots of sweaty, dirty, OMGHOT sex! Indian dude with massive chip on his shoulder! There will be lots of yelling, both when they argue and when they screw like horny, horny weasels!”
The new cover says, rather sedately, “I am a family saga. There are two sisters. And lots of descriptions of the brutal winters. One of them marries a preacher who turns out to be an alcoholic. The other one—the plain one—injures her leg, loses her faith in God, and finds her faith again when she adopts a starving urchin.”
This cover’s much less embarrassing to cart around, but I gotta say, I kinda prefer the old one.
A Heart So Wild
Ahhh, the When Vampire Cowboys Go Gay cover. So much love. So much gauntness. So much inexplicable posturing—I mean, tango is sexy and all, but why in the fuck are they practicing right by a roaring campfire? One of the classic conundrums of our time.
We go from that bit of pulp camp to:
Ah, yes. I remember this phase of Johanna Lindsey covers. For a while, all her reissues had these huge, lurid flowers on them, and then they were plain with the occasional paint splatter in the background—I like to think of them as the half-assed Jackson Pollock phase of Lindsey covers. They were by and large inoffensive, but also boring as hell, though if I remember correctly, these often had mantitty-licious stepbacks. If I had to choose, I’d say this one makes me less embarrassed to cart around in public, but this isn’t by any means a good cover.
Brave the Wild Wind
If there’s one thing you can learn from this cover, it’s that you can stick two hot, mostly-naked people in a raging torrent of radioactive goo, and it STILL won’t make it sexy. Years from now, the woman’s going to be popping out two-headed kittens and children with their organs on the outside of their bodies, and she’ll be sobbing with regret into her oatmeal. Why did she take that modelling job in college? Why? Whyyyyy?
We go from that piece of strangeness to:
Holy bloated pink horsies, Batman! That horse is straight from a “Where Are They Now” special on My Little Pony. After the Saturday Morning cartoon series, after the insane merchandising, after the mobs of adoring girls, obscurity hit Chocolate Stallion hard. He developed a nasty coke habit, was forced to get a bleach job, and started posing on romance novel covers. How the mighty have fallen.
This re-issue manages to be both more discreet AND more hilarious than the old one. That takes talent.
The cover change for this book is perhaps one of the most whiplash-inducing re-work of all time. But as with all things, you can basically categorize it using a LOLCat dichotomy.
That up there? Visible Buttsecks.
The new cover?
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for next week, when we take on Catherine Coulter. Try not to pee yourself with anticipation.