61 Hours Left, and Another Cover Pose
Over the past month, we’ve raised $11,271.11 for the Aicardi Syndrome Foundation.
I had hoped to have more cover poses done by now, but I’ve been fighting a cold this week, and it’s hard enough to hold these positions when you’re not coughing and hacking. So all I’ve got today is the cover for Gini Koch’s Alien Diplomacy.
I just finished Koch’s first book in the series, Touched by an Alien. (Review coming soon.) The heroine, Katherine “Kitty” Katt does more than her share of kicking evil alien butt, and that comes across in the cover art for the new book as well. But the heels…the positioning of her legs…the low-cut dress… Let’s just say the alien on the left side is getting quite the show.
I didn’t match the angle of her ankle quite right, and wearing shorts removed some of the voyeuristic feel.
Check it out, if you’re so inclined. And if you’re looking for any last-minute, tax-deductible charitable donations before the year ends, the fundraiser runs right up until the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.
December 29, 2012 @ 10:59 am
Hrm. You know Jim I almost think that’s her left leg up on that chair. Don’t get me wrong, both positions would be awkward as heck, but I just get that feeling.
December 29, 2012 @ 11:00 am
Er… metal thingy. You’re using the chair. Lol.
December 29, 2012 @ 11:01 am
If that’s her left leg she must have remarkable hips.
Jim C. Hines
December 29, 2012 @ 11:04 am
I think, based on the arch of that foot, that it’s the right leg. But I’m half tempted to try it the other way now…
December 29, 2012 @ 11:11 am
Yeah, that’s decidedly her right leg. Even the craziest of cover artists wouldn’t try to make that be her left leg. Besides, if that were her left, we’d also be getting butt in the shot. No way they’d let THAT not be on the cover if it were an option! Plus, I agree with you, Jim, about the arch of her foot proving it’s the right.
Mary Robinette Kowal
December 29, 2012 @ 11:36 am
Given the athleticism required for most of these poses, I’m wondering when we’ll get the “Jim C. Hines Cover Poses Workout Video.” More grueling than yoga and crossfit training.
Jim C. Hines
December 29, 2012 @ 12:04 pm
Maybe that can be the $20K reward 🙂
December 29, 2012 @ 12:11 pm
The shoes are what MAKE this one.
December 29, 2012 @ 12:42 pm
The cover blurb says “. . . many interesting twists and turns . . .” obviously referring to the pose.
I’ll skip the squirrel- nuts joke.
December 29, 2012 @ 12:54 pm
Hmm. You leg isn’t quite high enough to cause pain and your heels are also not high enough. It would be much harder to balance on that one leg if your heels were spikes like hers. HOWEVER, the squirrels totally make the shot. They are even better than the fuzzies on the original cover! Excellent. Excellent!
December 29, 2012 @ 12:55 pm
Jim, I totally bow to your amazing posing skills. The toaster is a great touch too.
Thank you! $$ donated in honor of your awesomeness.
December 29, 2012 @ 1:09 pm
That toaster just made my day.
Jim C. Hines
December 29, 2012 @ 2:03 pm
December 29, 2012 @ 3:06 pm
The heels aren’t high enough. And maybe you should wear a Speedo. (Or not, in the interests of society)
I read one of the later books in this series. “Mary Sue” does not begin to describe this character. I think I’d have liked her better if she had squirrels.
December 29, 2012 @ 3:10 pm
I think it’s another indictment of the cover art that a reasonable case can be made for that being her left leg. It’s so badly drawn that it’s hard to tell which one it is!
December 29, 2012 @ 3:56 pm
You know, it is kind of reassuring that even though you have a crossbow in your cupboard, you don’t seem to have a gun lying next to it. What IS that yellow monster?
And wow, the shoe is the kicker! Thank you for all those wonderful laughs.
December 29, 2012 @ 4:10 pm
My hubby says he actually would look at _Toast Slayer_ if it were a real book. 😀
December 29, 2012 @ 4:33 pm
That sounds like a challenge. So, Jim, how about a Toast Slayer series once you’ve finished the Libriomancer books?
December 29, 2012 @ 4:37 pm
Nah, you can see the arch of the foot. It’s the right leg. The dress draping over the hip might be throwing you off.
December 29, 2012 @ 4:38 pm
SQUIRREL! (hey, someone had to say it).
December 29, 2012 @ 6:45 pm
Wut I don’t even… Where’s her other leg?
I like your pose, and it makes at least as much sense as the one on the book.
Now we need a Toast (Squirrel!) Slayer badge of achievement.
December 30, 2012 @ 12:17 am
Yes! Newest youtube sensation.
December 30, 2012 @ 5:06 am
Very nice. Love the toaster, and the sight of your bare legs has reminded me that you might have implied interest in doing a thoughts on leg shaving post at some point. If you are still interested in writing this, I would be quite keen to read it.
December 30, 2012 @ 8:44 am
No one’s mentioned the heroine’s neck yet. She seems to be leaning it back and sideways at a very painful angle. Surely if you actually did anything strenuous while holding your head like that your next stop would *have* to be a chiropractor?! And what’s the reason for drawing her like that? She could show off her legs with a non-weird neck!
Jim C. Hines
December 30, 2012 @ 9:35 am
Nerf gun 🙂
December 31, 2012 @ 3:44 pm
I thought those were prairie dogs rather than squirrels. Either way, they made me laugh aloud at work. Loved the toaster, too.
I have to say that I feel a tad bit sorry for your wife. I hope you’re not stretching out her good shoes. She’s obviously a good sport, but that would be quite the sacrifice for the cause.
Happy New Year–and hope your cold is better.
Jim C. Hines
December 31, 2012 @ 3:57 pm
Could be either one, I honestly don’t know. But I thought squirrels sounded a little bit funnier.
The shoes belong to my mother, and she said they don’t really fit her anymore, so I think I’m safe there 🙂
And thanks! I’m feeling much better today.
January 6, 2013 @ 12:45 am
Hello great pose. I am a big fan of this series of books they are really funny and you can’t wait to see what happens next. Kitty is a great strong heroine she kicks arse and does it while lessoning to Areo Smith. Just so people know the critters are called poofs the serve the royal family of alpha 4 they serve a vital role in that they eat anyone who wants to hurt the royal family or members of it that go bad. The ones in the picture with Kitty at this point would be her own poof Poofykins and the other is Harley the poof of her husband Jeff. I would definitely recommend these books think of them as a MIB and Buffy combo. The only slight retractor would be that there is quite a bit of sex in the books and it goes into detail. But if that bothers or offends you can skip it and still have a great story and lovable characters. Just as a libariomancer makes stuff real from books to me Kitty and the rest of Alpha team are real to me and very good friends.
Dan dos Santos
January 18, 2013 @ 2:32 pm
Well, part of me feels stupid for even trying to defend my work (which as an Artist, is Rule #1… NEVER defend your work), but I felt the recent attention this piece has received warrants a comment. Firstly, I -get- what you’re doing. I know it’s a lot of fun, and it’s for a really good cause. I do NOT want you to stop doing this. However, some of the readers comments are so mean and misinformed… I just can’t keep my mouth shut.
So let me expound on this cover, and hopefully you’ll realize that this is pretty relevant to EVERY cover you imitate.
Firstly, someone made this cover. In this case… ME. I work really hard, I work really long hours, and I try my hardest to make the Art Director, the Author, and the Readers as happy as can be. All the while, trying to make MYSELF happy too. It’s not easy. So when when someone starts to criticize my work, I take it personally.
Now there is nothing wrong with criticism, I honestly invite it, as it’s the best way to learn! But when someone shits all over someone else’s hard work and does NOT offer a BETTER solution in return… that is not criticism, that’s just bullying. If you have a -better- idea of how women (and men) should be portrayed so that everyone is happy, the image is exciting, and the book still reaps good sales… PLEASE SHARE IT! I am all ears.
As for anatomy;
Imagine for a moment that I took a random page from one of your novels, handed it to a bunch of people (NONE of whom have a degree in English, or any experience writing whatsoever), and then asked them to start editing your grammar. I’m willing to bet it’d be pretty annoying. I hate to break it to all the nay-sayers, but my anatomy here is correct:
And the pose really isn’t THAT hard or unnatural to assume. Not if you’re a good model, anyways. As I’m sure Jim is learning, modeling is a skill which develops over time, and one that is deceptively difficult.
Often times we distort anatomy in order to exaggerate poses. Trust me when I say, 9 times out of 10, the artist KNOWS that the thigh is too long, or that the wrist doesn’t bend that way… because he did it on PURPOSE. Why? To add drama, to make it exciting, to make it stand out on the shelf so that the author can makes some money! You are not Dr. House, and you are not blowing our minds by pointing out some anatomical inaccuracies. We are well aware of them… we put them there for a reason.
“But the image is SO absurd, why would she be wearing high heeled shoes when fighting a robot?!”
Hey, guess what… that’s the point! The high heeled shoes, the absurdity of the situation, and those squirrel-like creatures you all think are so weird… THEY ARE IN THE STORY.
If an Artist deviates from the novel, we get shit.
If the artist stays true to the novel, we get shit.
I’ve heard an awful lot of people complain about the covers not accurately depicting the story inside. Personally, I try my hardest to remain faithful to the text. So when people start criticizing the subject matter (like it’s MY choice) I’m left a little perplexed, and annoyed.
Lastly, let’s talk about objectification.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with making a woman look sexy. I think women SHOULD be sexy, and strong. I could understand the complaints if we all made the women naked, weak and helpless… but we are not. These women are empowered. They are sexy, virile, and in control. They can rip a robot’s head off, and they can do it without a man, or even messing up their makeup! If that’s not the feminist ideal, I don’t know what is.
And one final word:
I run a blog called Muddy Colors, it’s an art blog. So I know you can’t control what your readers have to say. Obviously art is very subjective, and there are lots of differing opinions. Everyone is welcome to those opinions. However, we do have one rule on our blog… no trash talking. There is absolutely NO good to come out of insulting your peers. I understand that this is all meant to be light-hearted fun, and it is… FOR YOU. But there are a lot of hard working people on the opposite side of this, who are, quite frankly, not finding it as funny.
We don’t take your manuscripts out of context, offer them up to an uninformed audience, and then ask people to start making fun of all the absurd stuff in your FANTASY novel.
You have been very fortunate to have some really talented cover artists work on your novels, Jim. These people’s jobs are to, quite literally, MAKE YOU LOOK GOOD.
Why wouldn’t you want to do the same for them?
Dan dos Santos
January 19, 2013 @ 3:37 am
Just how easy is it to take out an entire army of alien robots being piloted by (it looks like) sloths? Easy enough that it can be done in heels, armed only with a handgun, while assuming absurdly awkward poses.
I hope no actual aliens see this; they might be more than a little insulted.
January 21, 2013 @ 12:19 am
Hello realy Name did you not read the post right above yours or mine. They are not sloths and they are helping destroy them wich you can tell because Mr. Santos did a great job drawing this sean like he does on all the books wich rock by the way.
January 21, 2013 @ 3:03 pm
I hesitated to comment here being as I don’t feel it is my business what people feel like discussing on their own blogs, but, as Dan pointed out, this has been getting quite a bit of press and I just wanted to leave a quick note in support of Dan’s well written response. I agree with him absolutely and completely in the points which he has made. I am also a cover artist as well as a former art director (Night Shade Books, 2010-2012) and I’m perfectly aware of the unfortunate truth that you can not satisfy all the people all the time, but I’ve been shocked and amazed time and time again to see writers publicly trashing the artists who work along side them in this industry. Sometimes trashing the artists who worked on their book (which, frankly, is more stupid than rude) and sometimes just trashing artists in a more general way. Sometimes this is done with a hint of paranoia as though the artist intentionally set out to ruin the book. As Dan said, everyone in the process wants the end result to be good and wants to keep all parties (from the author to the publisher to the retailer book buyers to the consumer) happy. We are all on the SAME side. Strangely, I never see artists posting publicly about how bad a book which they just illustrated was, but we do always do the best we can to meet the needs of the job even when it means making a slightly ridiculous painting.
As to this series of cover parodies, I understand “it’s all in good fun”, but personally I find what they seem to have become to be more insulting and mean spirited than amusing or useful. Call me the crabby one who can’t take a joke if you like, but I think Dan nailed it in the closing of his comment. If you have criticism of the way women are portrayed on some covers, why not celebrate those which you feel to be good examples instead of throwing rocks at people? I know being nice won’t get you interviewed by the BBC, but simply griping without offering solution or positive example is not in any way helpful.
As an aside, in my opinion, many of the poses which you and your readers deem unrealistic or impossible are really not so difficult. I’m not even able to touch my toes and I can do them (and do when I use myself as a model). If covers only featured average looking people in common daily poses, I doubt they would capture the attention of a reader looking to buy a FANTASY novel.
Jim C. Hines
January 21, 2013 @ 3:35 pm
Thanks for commenting! As an author, I’m very well aware that you can’t please everyone all of the time, nor would I ever expect anyone to do so. I’m also not certain what you’re referring to when you talk about authors trashing their artists. Do you mean me and the covers and captions I’ve posted? The comments here? Comments and discussion elsewhere? Or are you just making a general statement?
I actually have posted celebrations of good covers, but I certainly understand that you’re just responding to this particular project, and I wouldn’t expect you to go reading through the entire archives. But yes, I’ve posted multiple examples of what I feel to be well-done portrayals of strong women. In addition, I as well as most authors I know routinely give public props to our cover artists.
Your comment about “being nice won’t get you interviewed by the BBC” seems like a cheap shot, and I’m not sure how to respond to that one, except to say that whatever you might believe, this hasn’t been about getting my name in the papers.
I’m intrigued that you even admit that some of these covers are, in your words, “slightly ridiculous.” I’d be very interested to hear more on that point. What do you think pushes a cover toward the ridiculous? If those ridiculous covers perpetuate sexist trends, is that something you’re comfortable with because it’s the needs of the job?
There’s actually been a fair amount of discussion of positive examples as well as ideas for what can be done to improve things. And nobody anywhere that I’ve seen is asking for artists to draw average-looking people in boring daily poses, so I’m not sure where you’re getting that. We’re just a bit fatigued by the overdone, overly sexualized women that show up on so many books.
Jim C. Hines
January 21, 2013 @ 4:01 pm
Thank you for commenting. I don’t know if you got my email this weekend or not, but I wanted to wait until after the con when I could give your comments the attention they deserved.
I’m sorry you feel that I’m shitting over your work without offering anything positive or better. As I said to David below, I’ve actually posted examples of what I believe are positive and non-sexist portrayals of strong female characters. But I also recognize that this is what’s gotten more publicity, and I wouldn’t expect you to go reading through the archives of my blog.
“Imagine for a moment that I took a random page from one of your novels, handed it to a bunch of people (NONE of whom have a degree in English, or any experience writing whatsoever), and then asked them to start editing your grammar. I’m willing to bet it’d be pretty annoying.”
Dan, I don’t have to imagine this. I’m an author. This happens all the time, even without me asking. It’s not the best part of being a writer, but as you say, criticism is part of the job. Does the fact that I don’t have a degree in art and am not a professional artist mean I’m not allowed to offer opinions?
Thank you for linking to that photo, by the way. It’s very cool to see a little of the behind-the-scenes stuff. And you’re right, this pose is not impossible, nor is it one of the most painful ones I’ve done. I’ve seen some responses talking about how I’m proving that all of these poses are inhuman and impossible, and that’s really not the point. Some of them, yes. Others are perfectly achievable, like this one. My question here is more why it was necessary to yank the dress back to show off as much of the model’s thighs as possible, and to pose her in such a way that made her look like she was flashing her underwear at random aliens.
It’s a well-done illustration, and you’re a damned good artist. In my opinion, you’ve earned every one of those Hugo nominations, and I fully expect you to win one soon. You’ve done covers I’ve absolutely loved. The artwork you did for Jay Lake’s Kalimpura is freaking gorgeous.
I don’t personally feel like I’m attacking the artist here. Artists are a part of this trend, but it’s something that happens on many levels. The editor wants the book to be recognizable as a part of a certain subgenre. The sales department has ideas about what will sell. The art director sends feedback on what they want. The buyers at the big chain stores reject covers they don’t think will fly off the shelves. It’s a bigger issue, which is something I’ve mentioned before, and will be talking about again.
I’m not sure I agree with you on the objectification piece. Even as you’re writing, you’re saying women should be sexy and strong. They should be sexy, virile, and in control. Each time, “sexy” comes first. And that’s what comes through in a lot of artwork. What’s most important is that the woman be hot. And then, yeah, she can be strong too. (I don’t mean you specifically here, by the way.)
Yes, women *can* be attractive and strong. There’s nothing wrong with women wanting to dress in a way that’s sexy, or flash some skin, or any of that. But it would be so nice if that didn’t feel like the only thing we ever got. Yeah, there are exceptions. But I suspect we both know that the dominant trend starts with women’s boobs, butts, and/or legs.
You say there is absolutely no good to come out of insulting your peers. I can respect that you feel insulted by what I’ve done. I can also tell you that good has indeed come out of this. If you don’t feel that the $15,000 we’ve raised for charity is a good thing, then I could talk instead about the art directors at major publishing companies who have talked to me about how they’ve rethought how they approach their cover art as a result of this project. I could refer you to the artists who have contacted me to say they love what I’m doing, and the discussions it’s generated. I could talk about the many people, particularly women, who are so tired of being portrayed in the same sexist and oversexualized ways, and are grateful to finally see more people questioning those portrayals.
I recognize that I’ve hurt you with this, and I am genuinely sorry for that. It was never my intention to be hurtful, but intention is irrelevant, and I acknowledge that I’ve harmed you. I’m sorry.
But to say that no good has come of this is ingenuous, to say the least.
I’ll be emailing you as well. And I wanted to thank you again for your comment. While I may not agree with 100% of what you say, I very much appreciate it.
January 21, 2013 @ 6:25 pm
Hey Jim, thanks for the response. By slightly ridiculous, I mean things like adding fuzzy squirrels into a battle scene. Or fighting robots in high heels and a dress. As Dan pointed out, we try to be faithful to the novels, though that means we have little control over some things that may work well in the story but come off as campy in visual translation. I’ve certainly found myself in situations where a client wanted something added to the image which, though not morally objectionable to me, felt silly/goofy or even just not visually interesting. In the end, however, we’re hired to help sell a product and the client knows what they want. Believe it or not, we roll our eyes right along with you sometimes, and then we sit down and do what we can to make it look cool. I did NOT say anything about perpetuating sexist trends. Like Dan, I don’t find this piece to be sexist. I’m sure long before Dan was ever a part of this series (and Dan and I worked together on this piece, though I defer to him on story details as he’s been with the series from the first book) the woman in the story was described as an attractive, physically fit woman with a beautiful face. With that in mind, I think all of his comments on why this portrayal is not sexist are spot on. Yes, they wanted her sexy on the cover, but she’s far from a damsel in distress or a girl dreaming of finding the perfect man. I gather that your larger concern is that women are almost only depicted as sexually attractive on book covers (as well as all the lead actresses in Hollywood and television), though I believe it is for the same reason that men on similar products tend to all have broad shoulders, strong jaws, and flat stomachs: heroic ideals dominate in genre entertainment. Hell, they dominate going all the way back to ancient Greece.
I’m glad to hear that you’ve raised so much money for people who need it and apologize for what was a cheap shot, though my immediate interpretations of your posts was that they were also cheap shots. We don’t know each other and it is very easy to misinterpret others online, but I do know several of the artists whose work you’ve lampooned and, as Dan clearly stated, we work hard to make our clients and the readers and ourselves all happy. It is not easy to always walk that tightrope.
In regards to authors bad-mouthing artists: Yes, I think some of your posts and the comments which follow can be read that way (again, as Dan clearly stated). I’ve also seen it elsewhere and I’ve dealt with it personally. I won’t rattle off irrelevant anecdotes, but obviously it pushes my buttons when I run across it. Many many authors are exactly the opposite of course but, on occasion, yes.
Ultimately, I feel this is probably the sort of thing where you see devils when you go looking for them. I think, generally speaking, I probably agree with your concerns. I’m mindful of these issues in my own work and was mindful of them (to what degree I could be) when working with NSB. Doubtless some would disagree though it’s a subject where everyone chooses where they draw that line. This piece and some of the others you have chosen to make example of don’t go over that line for me, though clearly they do for you.
January 23, 2013 @ 2:17 am
Hi in case you want a the input of a reader and buyer of books. I think that good cover art is like the the smell of food in a restrant. It get your notce. Notice then you read the back to see what its about. For example the frist Alienn book i found and read was Alien Proliferation my frist tought was cool she is flouting. Then i tought wow whats with the baby. so i read the back the in the frist couple pages to find out the names of the others and i bought the frist book and all the others since. So my point is that one cover has gotten me to buy 6 books.
Then on the other point there have been books that i have not bought because i would be emmbaresed to read them in public afraid someone would think i was reading a dirrty book. There needs to be a happy medium. Its kinda the Grease fanonmon if you show to much or pose wrong it is kinda sluty but if you just stand there in nice aporriate garb then you borring.
p.s. They are not squierls they are poofs and they rock on the cover i hope the pergrins will be on the next.
p.p.s. Sorry for the bad spelling and grammer i have been working all day and i suck at both on a good day.