The whole "don't judge a book by its cover" thing came about for good reason: The people who design book covers often don't even read the books. Who has the time? Now, you wouldn't think this would be a problem when designing the cover for a classic everyone is familiar with -- you don't have to know how to read to know what, say, The Wizard of Oz or 1984 is about.
So when those classic books fall into the hands of the rare cover artist who somehow has no idea what's going on, that's when hilarity ensues ...
#8. Fantastic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe
Poe's fiction contains such timelessly iconic images as mouthy ravens and swinging pendulums, and delves into such truly archetypal fears as being buried alive and being bludgeoned to death with a candelabrum by soft-core '70s porn. What, you don't remember that last one in any Poe story you've ever read? Yeah, neither do we.
Maybe it's just us, but "scantily clad female" comes in just behind "monster trucks" in the list of images that the collected work of Edgar Allan Poe brings to mind. But maybe we're missing the point -- perhaps if you look close enough at this image that appears to be torn straight from the cover of that VHS tape your dad used to hide in the bottom of his sock drawer, there's some untold horror lurking inside.
Lo! There it is:
Hiding right there in plain sight. Staring you right in the face, as it were. Endlessly watching. Endlessly knowing.
#7. 1984 by George Orwell
via Crisol Plural
"Freedom Is Slavery" repurposed as a BDSM tagline.
In the dystopian future-past of 1984, the Anti-Sex League is a radical organization pushing an agenda of outright celibacy. But what about propagation of the species, you ask? Only by way of artificial insemination, bucky -- if they have their way, your little swimmers will only get to play in the pool by way of a third party driving them there. So of course the obvious way for a member of the league to portray those ideals, at least according to this cover, is by wearing a standard uniform consisting of a boobtastically low-cut dress with an "ANTI-SEX LEAGUE" button drawing everyone's attention straight to her generous cleavage.
And if you, as a male member of this fictional society, choose not to look? Well, there's no danger of that happening -- not when Big Brother has deployed his army of be-gimp-suited goons to stand by with scowls cocked and ready to ensure that you damn well look at that cleavage.
We're not exactly sure what the word is for what's going on in this scene, but we're pretty sure "dystopia" ain't it.
#6. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum
Munchkins in Space, Episode 4 of the Oz saga.
The Oz books are practically bursting at the seams with instantly recognizable imagery, but why design a cover around yellow brick roads or emerald cities or witches or tin men when you could slap some fucking space jets on there instead? If this version of the story doesn't feature the Cowardly Lion discovering his courage by way of rechristening himself "Maverick" and doling out some sky-murder to a squadron of Venusian MiGs, we're going to be sorely disappointed.
This cover is just one example from the apparently lucrative industry of taking an out-of-copyright classic, slapping together a print-on-demand edition of said classic, and fooling middle schoolers into buying it. And we have to admit that maybe they're on to something, because the Vexin Classics series of classic novels -- from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Frankenstein -- featuring completely irrelevant naked ladies on their covers would certainly have caught our adolescent eyeballs.
#5. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Hey, plastic comes from oil, and they say oil comes from dinosaurs.
And so, the bold Edwardian explorers have stumbled across the fabled Lost World, a land in which the flora and fauna have remained unchanged since time immemorial -- largely because they're made entirely out of plastic, and we all know that shit don't biodegrade.
Presumably this is what happens when the person in charge of cover designs hands the reins over to his 6-year-old son and his best friend, who is also a stuffed tiger. And actually, if you look at it that way -- as the Calvin-and-Hobbesian approach to publishing classic literature -- it's not so bad. Keep on rocking those plastic dinosaurs, you li'l Ray Harryhausen, you.
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