You can never judge a book by its cover – it’s an age-old expression as popular as “speaking as a mother”, “I’m not being racist, but…” and the all-time favourite “I was just following orders”. Used primarily by mouth-breathing, Daily Mail reading, walking clichés in an attempt to explain their stunned amazement at having made yet another colossally arse-brained misjudgement, you’ll find it tacked onto the end of all manner of spluttered admissions such as: “I bought the latest Dan Brown novel as the picture on the front gave the impression it wouldn’t be a steaming pile of hackneyed arse-gravy…” or “I voted Tory because I thought Cameron had a trustworthy face and George Osborne certainly looked just the man to get us out of this recession…” and of course “That nice Herr Fritzl from number 22 never looked like the daughter-in-a-sex-dungeon type…” etc.
But not only are these drooling arse-clowns wrong, so too is the very expression itself. Starting out as a desire to simply shut someone the hell up by finding an example of one book you could instantly judge by its cover, what happened next was a Facebook update-clogging horror that was akin to riding the very tapeworm of text through the rotting, deepest bowels of literature, as excremental example after example hit my computer’s screen as though hurled at it from the inside by some kind of furiously masturbating digital chimp.
Here’s just some of the fetid folios I found floating through the sewer of storytelling. Oh and I think it’s fair to say that I made my book-cover-judging point unencumbered by any form of subtlety with this little lot…
Exhibit A: Clash of Star-Kings (The Night The Stars Fell And The Spacemen Rose)
Sci-Fi/Fantasy was always going to prove a rich hunting ground for crap covers, manly due to the generally abysmal subject matter knocked out by the lonely fat geeks that write this kind of trash. But look at that cover – a lizard stands before a big stone head, terrified by the sight of its own hand… and the fact that someone has dressed it like ‘people’. What can we immediately glean from this cover? That Clash of Star-Kings (The Night The Stars Fell And The Spacemen Rose) is in fact so bad that the bloke charged with creating the cover art would rather take the piss than be paid.
Exhibit B: Who Cares About Disabled People?
Yeah, who fucking cares! Oh, I see. Perhaps Who Cares ‘For’ Disabled People would have been better fitting, Pam Adams? Also we see from this cover that in this otherwise completely white family the disability appears to be ‘being black’. Jesus, Pam, you just know no limits do you? Also, while we’re at it, who’s the little fella floating on his right shoulder? Is that the ‘friend’ that tells him to burn stuff?
Exhibit C: Dildo Cay
What need I say about the mighty organ that is Nelson Hayes’ Dildo Cay? It’s a thrill a minute, etc. And in case you almost missed it, there it is on the clifftop, in all its massive, unyielding, white glory…
Exhibit D: The Little People
Nazi leprechauns with whips. Yes, leprechauns, but not just any old leprechauns! These are the Jewish victims of some particularly unusual Nazi experiments. And they live in a hotel in Ireland. A hotel currently counting amongst its guests a bickering American couple and their nymphomaniac daughter, plus the German Odd Couple – he’s pure Aryan Nazi, she’s a Jewess who lost her whole family in the Holocaust! Prepare for laughs aplenty. There was a sequel: The Little People go to Band Camp, but it wasn’t as well received. Neither was the Lucky Charms marshmallow tribute.
Exhibit E: Time Ninja
This is not a book, it’s a nine year old boy’s sex dream. A Hoola Hoop time-travel car, a badly drawn ‘ninja’ with flaming farts, too much rawk for one hand, and an Andy Schoepp belt, plus some kind of robot that’s probably called The Violator. This is the most awesome thing ever. If you’re a nine year old boy. Possibly younger.
Exhibit F: “The Rifleman”
Mother of God… Wrong in every way, the cover of “The Rifleman” suggests many things, the most prominent being that this kid is going to be badly saddle-sore later. “Put the wood down, Mark. All the way down…” Look at his face, the poor bastard knows it too. Feel sorry for him? Well, there are worse scenarios for a young boy to have to endure…
Exhibit G: DC Comics. Superman Action Comics
No matter how savagely you bite that pillow, son, it’s not going to provide much comfort once you’re on the receiving end of some ‘Superman Action’.
Exhibit H: Toilet Training the Retarded
Due to the fact that I have no wish to appear all Ricky Gervais I’m going to merely reproduce the following review from Amazon.com:
what to do with poop get on hands. what mongoloid mean no index. why author use so many adverbs and pseudo intelligent wordings. “enclose excrement in cloth textile and reconcile in waste receptacle”
YOU ARE NOT BETTER THAN ME!”
Exhibit, where are we up to? I? Peek-a-Boo Jesus!
Jesus Creeping Christ. Yep, the Son of God loved to play games with kids, with this tome focusing on how He died, disappeared from his tomb and reappeared alive again with a cry of “Peek-a-boo!” He also had a penchant for dressing as a clown and making balloon animals. Messiah Fact. Go on, Jesus, show em the one with the marble in your hands!
Exhibit J: Cooking With Pooh
Just plain silly. Never heard it referred to as a ‘cookie cutter’ before though.
Exhibit K: The Penetrator: Mankill Sport
Remember what I said about Clash of Star-Kings (The Night The Stars Fell And The Spacemen Rose) way back at the start of this painful odyssey? Times it by 100 for this literary classic. His name is Mark Hardin. Hard-in. He’s known as The Penetrator. That’s Hard-in and Penetrator. Remarkably though, this is not porn. It’s not chick-lit either. Or even just ‘lit’. Given the sub-heading of MANKILL SPORT, I think its safe to guess at the target demographic here. After all, for the dangerous loner in your life this cover has the lot: The words ‘Hardin’, ‘Penetrator’, ‘Man’, ‘Kill’ and ‘Sport’, a picture of a bloke with a gun, another with a spear and a naked woman looking all coy about being caught up in a shrub. Oh and a killer bear coming right at you! Raoul Moat considered it a ‘must-read’.
The Penetrator: Mankill Sport won the Booker Prize in 1967. No, not really.
Exhibit L: Circus of the Damned
I think I went to this once when it came to Colchester. Not as entertaining as Zippo’s, not as pretentious as the Cirque du Soleil. Check out the barnet on that badly drawn bad-boy! He’s called Jean-Claude and he’s the vampire master of Anita Blake, who’s a vampire/vampire hunter (bit of a conflict there, that’s the mastery of the written word Laurell K. Hamilton has). She tries to kill him, but he fancies her so doesn’t try to kill her back, apparently. So he quite literally doesn’t know whether to f*ck her or fight her. It’s not much of a premise to base an entire book on, is it? Hang on, is that Dave Vanian?
Exhibit M: Identifying Wood
Are you still reading this? Ah, X Factor must have finished.
Hmm, metal, metal, grass, tin foil, hat, wood! Yes, it’s wood!
Exhibit N: The Good Old Days
Yep, the Good Old Days, back when women would stare in distant horror from the doorway of their shack while lesbians with shattered limbs roamed the land on barely-worth-the-effort stilts. If those were the Good Old Days, you can stick em.
Which is where I’m going to leave it. There are many more of these abortionate efforts out there, but I’m all judged out now – judged out to a whopping Louis Walsh-reading of 258%. Plus, aside from proving my point, all I’ve really succeeded in doing is putting myself off reading books ever again. I wonder if you can get any of these on the Kindle…
NEXT: Many a Mickle Does Not In Fact Make A Muckle.