Author Topic: A question about "The Preying for Mercy" cover art.  (Read 4694 times)


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A question about "The Preying for Mercy" cover art.
« on: July 20, 2008, 06:17:24 am »
I strongly dislike the portrayal of Mercy as an overly tattooed bimbo.  The "Preying" cover even makes her look like she had a boob job and has lived a hard life.  She looks over 40 and worn out but still on the market.   Ugh.  The books portray her as a strong personality in great physical condition and with a lively, humorous approach to life.  She doesn't look like any athlete I know on that cover, let alone a woman operating her own business and casual about her looks.  She sure wouldn't pose with that paw tattoo out front.  I'm amazed the author let Mercy be so diminished.

ETA: Edited for title change. Elle.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 09:18:21 pm by Elle »

Patti L.

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Re: "Preying" cover
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2008, 08:37:50 am »
Hi, spin8r.  You might check some of the other threads about art on the covers.  Basically, the author very, very rarely gets any say on the artwork.  This was not one of those unique instances, alas.  Mr. Briggs has a distinctly humorous comment that essentially agrees with you lurking around here somewhere.  The best conjecture I can produce on the subject is that perhaps this is supposed to indicate how she feels after some of the battering she's received in one of the books? 

Theoretically, she only has the paw tattoo, which she does mostly keep private, and perhaps one or two delicate bands on her arms, but Mr. Dos Santos, who does the better art on the original covers, used the idea to help convey some of the theme in the books he did the covers on.  The SFBC artist apparently followed the 'tradition' but had either a bad model or a darker vision.  Dunno.
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Mike Briggs

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Re: "Preying" cover
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2008, 02:37:53 pm »
First, welcome to the forums!  I'm sorry you didn't like the cover.  Allow me to summarize some of the comments I've made in other threads.   Authors are usually excluded from consultation on the cover art.  If you hang out at writer's conventions, you'll find this is a frequently-mentioned source of irritation for many of them.  I have a very clear recollection of sitting in the green room at a convention some years ago, listening to a group of very talented authors carp about the poor covers they'd received, and pontificating upon the artwork that they would have commissioned given half a chance.  Suddenly, I felt a great wave of sympathy for editors and marketing directors.   Most of the covers they were describing would have been HORRIBLE for marketing the book, which is the job of cover art.

I have no artistic talent, and Patty is only a little ahead of me.  Covers are done by the marketing department, and larger publishing houses may employ an art director as well.  The cover art is supposed to do only one thing: get you to pick up the book.   It needs to stand out, grab your attention, and tell you what sort of book this is (or rather, what sort of book the marketing department wants to to think it is).  Sometimes the most effective covers are not even very good art.

One of my college buddies was a graphic artist.  I thought that meant he would learn to draw and paint like all the other artists, and he wasn't bad at those things.  However, he spent more time studying color theory, fonts, page layout and psychology.  Apparently, there is a whole science involved in combining graphic elements to tell a story, set a mood, evoke a particular emotional reaction.  Authors know all about mood and setting and characterization, but most of them don't know anything about graphic arts and advertising.  That lack of knowledge explains the horrible suggestions I heard in the green room.

No, the Mercy on the cover of the books isn't quite how I'd pictured her.  She has more tattoos, and shows more skin, and is a little more busty than the Mercy I'd pictured.   But the cover art isn't really supposed to be a portrait, it's a marketing tool.  Daniel Dos Santos (who does the ACE covers) is an amazing artist, and his cover art contributes heavily to the popularity of Patty's books.   

Now, I did make a snotty comment about the Preying for Mercy cover on another thread.  Then I looked at a higher-resolution scan and studied the cover for a bit.  I'd be lying if I said it was my favorite cover of all time, but there's a lot to admire.   The artist had a tough job.  He's obviously trying to capture much of the feel of the Dos Santos covers, but no artist wants to blatantly copy another, so he incorporated some very complex tattoos, and worked them into the border art.  He used a similar color palette, and the technical expertise of the painting is quite good.   Dos Santos paints Mercy as younger and more curvacious than she's written, this artist tried to make her a little older, and a little more worn down by life.   That's probably a more realistic interpretation of the character from the books.   I don't like to think of Mercy that way, but that's not the fault of the artist.   And, once again, this isn't supposed to be an actual portrait, it's a marketing tool for the publisher.  I love the pack of wolves behind her.  Also, this artist took the time to work the title into the cover art -- that's a little detail usually practiced by some of the old masters.  Stephen Hickman, for example, was well known for that technique.  No, it's not my favorite portrait of Mercy, but it stands out, clearly ties in with the Dos Santos covers, and tells the reader at a glance that this is an urban fantasy with a female mechanic who's probably a werewolf.   That's a lot of information for a quick glance at the cover.  The marketing director is probably very happy indeed.

« Last Edit: July 20, 2008, 06:10:11 pm by Mike Briggs »
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