Over at the Genre Files, Darren muses about faces on covers. The line he takes is that he doesn’t like them as it means that he can identify with the main character as, to some extent, himself.
I actually quite like the plain covers when it works for the novel like the initial covers for Jon Courtenay Grimwood’s Arabesk sequence which were plain with Arabic style writing which summed up the overall feeling of the book. Likewise Ian MacDonald’s awesome River of Gods (Amazon) which tells you that we’re in India. Hal Duncan’s Vellum (Amazon) and Ink (Amazon) do them same: it implies the madness and bookishness of the novels. I have the Egmont edition of John Masefield’s Box of Delights (Amazon) next to me and it features a character walking across the snow but in my mind’s eye I see somebody who I created – perhaps its the hold of the book and its allowances for one to reimagine.
He slightly strays from the path when he goes on about seeing the Harry Dresden character from the TV series now when he reads the books as, if done intelligently by the director, I see those portrayals as potentially widening my own view. For example I always saw Dolores Umbridge as a spindly character in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but the film’s portrayal has made me rething that one slightly as the shocking pink and saccharine sweet vomit inducing niceness is more disturbing. I know what he means though, sometimes you just see the celluloid portrayal.
Editorial and art departments really ought to come together a little more often and think about the covers. Somethings work well in the UK some in the US but it would be great to think that there are folk who actively care about the portrayal of covers (and I know that there are teams out there who muse on covers).