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Women in Cover Art

It’s been several years since I did the cover art pose thing, and seeing a friend’s next cover on Twitter got me thinking that there have been some pretty awesome covers coming out lately, covers that don’t contort women into a sexual object at the cost of her strength and agency. (And in many cases, her spine.)

Let’s start with the cover art Diana Rowland recently revealed for her next book, Vengeance of the Demon. The art is by Dan dos Santos.

Vengeance of the Demon

I love this. Partly because I’m a sucker for babies. Partly because of the contrast between the cute baby and the utterly bad-ass protagonist. Partly because she looks both dangerous and competent. I have no doubt she could shift the kid to one arm, draw her weapon, and start blowing bad guys away. I could do without the shoulder strap falling loose, but overall, I really like this one.

Or check out the cover for Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear. The artist is Cynthia Sheppard.

Karen Memory

We have a bit more sexualization here, but it’s appropriate for the story. The protagonist works in a brothel. This is how she would likely dress, and equally importantly, her sexuality doesn’t detract from her strength. It’s an accurate advertisement for the story, in which Karen stands tall and does whatever it takes to protect the folks she cares about.

Here are some others that jumped out at me (in a good way) for the way they portray women.

Hero Breach Zone Shadowshaper The Winter Long Uncanny The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

There are still plenty of covers that do the ridiculous contortions + impractical wardrobe + out-of-character oversexualization and so on. As I was browsing through new and recent releases, I came across a number of covers that made me cringe, covers in which women seemed to exist first and foremost as objects and decoration, added specifically to appeal to the straight male gaze.

Personally, I prefer to see women as characters. As people, not things. And while there’s a long way to go, I’d like to believe we’re starting to see a shift in that direction. I hope publishers, authors, writers, booksellers, and readers will continue to encourage that shift.

What other covers have you seen lately that you’d say are Doing It Right?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:10 pm (UTC)
I love these.

And I was actually quite pleased with what Berkley did with mine.
Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:33 pm (UTC)
They've got some of the posing thing going on, but I think they work well for the books, and they've definitely helped bring you an audience. Plus, big dogs always make cover art 200% better :-)
(no subject) - deborahblakehps - Feb. 4th, 2015 01:43 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:13 pm (UTC)
...one I can't show you yet.

*twitches with impatience*
Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:30 pm (UTC)
Don't you hate that?
(no subject) - suricattus - Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:20 pm (UTC)
I can't actually complain about my current covers . . . but a part of me does feel like I'm letting down the side by not having human figures on them (except the little dudes in the boat). :-P
Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:31 pm (UTC)
Your covers are awesome. As is your protagonist. For what it's worth, I think you're good :-)
(no subject) - swan_tower - Feb. 4th, 2015 01:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:29 pm (UTC)
AAAUGH I didn't know The Winter Long was out... for how many months?! AAAAAAUGH...

Ahem. Yes. Lovely covers. Um... yeaaah... I'd love to stay but.. uh... I've... got... BOOKSIES! (clutch)
Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:31 pm (UTC)
Don't worry. We'll still be here when you get done reading ;-)
(no subject) - mt_yvr - Feb. 3rd, 2015 07:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mt_yvr - Feb. 4th, 2015 12:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thewronghands - Feb. 4th, 2015 02:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mt_yvr - Feb. 4th, 2015 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kshandra - Feb. 3rd, 2015 08:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 3rd, 2015 08:24 pm (UTC)
Here are some covers that I've respected lately. I won't say that all of the books are amazing, but I like the covers. My favorite cover from this list is The Sentinel Mage. (Links are to GoodReads, so may not be public.)

The Silvered - https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347511844l/13515074.jpg
Only the Good Die Young - https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386181263m/17971573.jpg
The House of the Four Winds - https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1411439603m/16059529.jpg
Royal Airs - https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1364887334m/13578466.jpg
Written in Red - https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1411439502m/15711341.jpg
Nightshifted - https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328198943m/12905583.jpg
Grave Mercy - https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320269319m/9565548.jpg
The Sentinel Mage - https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1331392774l/8612889.jpg

Edited at 2015-02-03 08:25 pm (UTC)
Feb. 3rd, 2015 09:36 pm (UTC)
Yay, someone else mentioned The Silvered.
(no subject) - scarlettina - Feb. 4th, 2015 03:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sylvia Mcivers
Feb. 3rd, 2015 08:40 pm (UTC)
You realize I will have no time for work with the way you grew my reading list?

Feb. 3rd, 2015 08:45 pm (UTC)
Of course I'm biased, but I like the cover for Our Lady of the Islands. :-)
Feb. 4th, 2015 03:59 pm (UTC)
That's a pretty good cover. Of course, you had an in with the artist. :-)
(no subject) - calendula_witch - Feb. 5th, 2015 12:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 3rd, 2015 09:07 pm (UTC)
Oh, great, now I want to buy all those that I don't already have. Just what I need. Seriously, those are really fine covers, especially all lined up like that. It's encouraging.

Feb. 3rd, 2015 11:02 pm (UTC)
Is it wrong that my first thought in seeing these covers is "I need to buy these books?" Partly because I want to support publishers who are publishing books with covers that I want to see more of and part of it is because my brain deep down goes "YEah! if the covers look like THAT the insides must be awesome!"
Feb. 3rd, 2015 11:21 pm (UTC)
The Future Falls by Tanya Huff -- 3rd book in the Enchantment Emporium series. The series as a whole is pretty cool; magic, and the ethics of magic, and a polyfamily and several gay/bi couples, and a half-human/half-dragon (his existence is one of the "ethics of magic" angles).

One warning: the books may be triggery for anyone who's had to deal with inappropriate boundary issues, because the aunties are ALL about enmeshed boundaries! (AKA "No one has secrets from the Family.") Parts of them are hard for me to read, but they're so good it's worth the occasional flinch.
Feb. 4th, 2015 01:46 am (UTC)
I love those books SSSOOOO much!
Feb. 4th, 2015 03:40 am (UTC)
That first cover you show, for Vengeance of the Demon, looks good to me. I think the shoulder strap falling loose would seem like a hint of inappropriately sexualized if the baby wasn't there. Now it looks like a nursing thing.
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 4th, 2015 04:45 am (UTC)
Oh, cool, I didn't realize there was going to be a sequel.
Feb. 5th, 2015 01:26 am (UTC)
Those are really nice! I like seeing covers that don't have anatomy hanging out or make my back hurt in sympathy.
Feb. 5th, 2015 06:13 am (UTC)
I love the cover of Jay Lake's *Kalimpura*: fully-clothed badass with blade, babies, and bedroll hiking along. [Edit to add: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0765326779/ ]

And did you see "Guys Recreate Kim K's Butt Photo" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMxhRq-lE4M ?

Edited at 2015-02-05 06:18 am (UTC)
Feb. 7th, 2015 05:35 am (UTC)
The book is not out yet, but I think the cover for the 8th Kate Daniels book is the best yet. http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Shifts-Kate-Daniels-Book-ebook/dp/B00OQSF7GY/
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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