Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New Wheel of Time ebooks' Cover Art on Tor.com



We're late with this "news", but Tor.com has started a while ago an interesting series of articles by Tor Books' art director Irene Gallo describing the development of each new painting created for the ebook releases of the Wheel of Time volumes. A new article comes out as each ebook is about to be released (one per month).

These paintings and the new look chosen for the Wheel of Time is a major improvement over the "classic look" that has been with the series since The Eye of the World.

I personally support the decision to finish the series in print with this look (despite hating the Sansweet paintings and the layout used for TWOT) as you just don't go and revamp this look now, a look that for being dated and in my opinion quite ugly is associated to the series so much and instantly recognizable as the "WOT look" by all readers, especially not for the last book(s), especially not at the same time a new name appears on those covers. But I sure hope Tor and Harriet will consider this new look when a new printed edition (mentioned as a distinct possibility by Harriet and Tom Doherty during JordanCon) of the whole series comes out after AMOL's release. (Your new covers would look lovely on oversized/upscale paperbacks one day, Mrs. Gallo - the sort you've used for the Book of the New Sun omnibus. :))

My personal comments on the new design and art so far :

They both capture extremely well the spirit of the series, increasing the pseudo-historical feel of it that is an integral aspect of Jordan's work (the Sansweet covers are too "fairy tale" for me). There is something of the same feeling of "old fashioned" Fantasy/adventures (from the 20th century and back to predecessors in many genres, from Dumas, L'Amour to Twain and co.) that Sansweet's covers also capture, but this time it's devoid of the voluntary "epic cheesiness" and is far more faithful to the feeling Jordan's books evoke for me, completed by care that the paintings represent Jordan's world faithfully, something that was quite secondary in the concept of the present edition with the Sansweet covers. The two first paintings are not only great art in themselves, but the nice subdued layout completes them perfectly (even with the ebook specifics, like accounting for the thumbnails shown by ebook sellers), giving the whole a feeling not unlike, for example, one of the upscale paperback editions of Patrick O'Brien's historical series (the Harper/Collins UK one). A great success so far, IMHO - and it will be interesting to see the rest of the approaches chosen for the other books by Mrs. Gallo over the next months.

The choice of scene for the Eye of the World painting (representing Rand atop the mast of Domon's ship) is inspired, going for an important character development moment instead of something more spectacular, resulting in something emblematic and symbolic of his long journey that barely begins, and the vast world that opens to him. The Great Hunt's painting is a twist on the original cover's concept, illustrating the same scene but going in a wholly different direction artistically - another great idea, almost an inside joke with the fans as The Great Hunt's cover misrepresentations (who can forget Leprechaun Loial, brrr!) have been the source of gags among fans for years. The new version captures well the ambiguity of The Great Hunt, giving Rand the spotlight, but placing the Trollocs (excellently rendered) at the forefront: who is hunting who?

Here are links to Irene Gallo's articles on Tor.com:

- On David Grove's painting for The Eye of the World.
- On Kekai Otaki's painting for The Great Hunt

2 comments:

d said...

In my opinion Darrel K Sweet's Eye of the World painting is much better than the "Pole-Dancing Rand", which doenst represent the novel at all. Is Sweet's accurate to the book? Not really, but it expresses the feel and idea of the book better in spite of all of its inaccuracies.

I will say that the new Great Hunt is better than Sweet's at expressing the idea of the novel though. The more accurate trollocs is a huge bonus.

As to layout, I cant decide if I like it or not. It reminds me of the layout of Penguin Classics.

Furyn said...

I agree with the above commenter. If I was browsing for books at a bookstore and came across the new EOTW book cover I'd think the book was about some kind of sailing adventure. The scene maybe true to the book but it doesn't represent what the story is about. When people see the cover for the first book in an epic series they need to get a feel for what they are getting into. This artwork is misleading. Sweet's artwork, while deplorable, at least shows EOTW for what it is: a fantasy adventure.

On the other hand, the Great Hunt artwork is fantastic. I love it!