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Here Be Dragons

How Come the Japanese and Spanish Versions of Game of Thrones Get the Cool Cover Art?

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We get crowns, swords, and helmets atop lightly textured backgrounds. Readers of the Japanese and Spanish versions of A Song of Ice and Fire get works of art. It’s not fair. R’hllor will be hearing about this.

(via: io9, arahir on Tumblr, imgur)

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  • Hannele Kormano

    At least this one can get some pretty damn fine wallpapers.

  • Elena

    That’s not the only Japanese edition of ASOIAF, the hardcovers had a different set of covers. Say hello to Bishie! Jon Snow.

    (It could be worse/ better, my favouritest Japanese covers are the Dragonlance Chronicles books that look like something out of the Record of Lodoss War manga)

  • Cowtools

    I hate this mentality. Hate hate HATE it!
    You’d think that the popularity of LOTR and Harry Potter would make people less self-conscious about reading fantasy, but no….

  • Cowtools

    The US (and Australia, where I live) predilection for bland, anonymous covers is especially sad when I think of all the awesome books I decided to check out, as a kid, because of their covers.

    I once received a poster book of Grant Taylor’s excellent cover illustrations for the Belgariad and the Mallorean, and it’s still one of my prized possessions.

    Nowadays, every fantasy book has either a white background with a silhouetted guy in a black clock holding a knife, or just a crown or sword or some obscure symbol that means nothing.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a modern thing, the original book covers were a very nice. They’ve had several variations since then.

    I think part of making them more “design-y” is they don’t want to use the portrait illustrations now that there are actors associated with the roles, but they also don’t want to use the hated “cover based on the tv show.”

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think it’s just “children’s book.” It’s also “serious, literary books don’t have drawings on the covers.” Now that these fantasy books are literature that the masses want to read (not nerds), they have to be more….”design-y.”

  • Mark Brown

    It’s not just GoT; check out some Japanese Star Wars covers. Here in NorAm, we usually just get photoshopped movie stills and publicity shots. In Japan, they actually get original art of EU characters.

  • Anonymous

    Agree, these are pretty mainstream in the US and that means people see you holding it on your morning commute. The not-usually-buying-fantasy audience is probably (sadly) put off by fanciful covers. I liked the original versions of the first three in the US.

  • Nicholas

    I wish we still had actual cover art for the books. The art for Storm of Swords was particularly beautiful.

  • Iqeret

    I don’t remember the American covers so much, but in England, HP had their own set of ‘adult’ covers so commuters wouldn’t feel shamed. (Though who would be carting around the massive hb OotP my dad bought me is beyond me.) I think Japan is more sensible; they simply give you brown paper covers at the bookstore which you can use to shroud your reading material—whatever it may be.

  • Engler Pascal

    Or the french Honor Harrington-Covers:

  • Cowtools

    I have a friend who objects to ‘adult’ covers so much that he made his own dust jacket out of an old Marvel comic Alpha Flight that he wraps around every book he reads.
    (It seems pointless to me when he’s reading, say, original cover Wheel of Time, but whatves.)

  • Anonymous

    I do like this artwork, and it looks like I’m in a minority here but I much prefer the covers on the shelves (although the British ones I’m referring to are variations of the American ones, they’re broadly the same).

    The Japanese market obviously has a higher tolerance for overtly fantasy-genre art – which makes sense, fantasy is much more mainstream there. There are differences between American and British book markets too: America has a higher tolerance for the illustrated and the busy on their book covers. British editions will often be more graphicy or text-based.

    I don’t have much time for the ‘adult edition’ thing (if you’re reading a children’s book, that’s perfectly fine, but why try to pretend it’s not one?). But I do like cover design that places greater weight on graphic design than psuedo-classical art like the above.

    I’m an illustrator as well as designer so I have the highest regard for good illustration and love to see it used well on covers. But I’m certainly not an ‘elaborate oil paintings are always better than simple imagery’ advocate. In particular, however well executed, the kind of art above always seems hackneyed and outdated to me on a cover. I’d love to have these images in a calendar or artbook though.

    I love the Western ASOIAF covers for communicating successfully the spirit and tone of the books. The above art portrays specific scenes from the books, sure, but if you were unfamiliar with the series when you looked at it, you’d get the impression from the imagery this was any old hack-written-swords-n-sorcery-Tolkein-ripoff. It does nothing (to my mind, and supposing a Western audience) to communicate the merits of the series n the way the simpler imagery and design does.

    (But I’ll just state again: I do like the artwork.)

  • Not So Young Democrat

    The only one I really like is the one of, I assume Bran, with the direwolf.

  • Tiny Tina Booom

    I also love the cover of Ellen Kushner’s “Swordspoint”: Considering the price of the books here (as Elena said), I’m glad the covers are nice at least.