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Equal Rites

I mentioned the other day that I'd been interested in the idea of a project of redeveloping Discworld covers a few years ago, but then when Gollancz (and now Randomhouse) unveiled their Joe-McLaren-featuring Collector's Library editions they were so perfect it took away any real impetus.

However there is one area of particular interest for me not covered by those. I have thought that it might be an interesting idea to have some of the Discworld book published in separate YA editions for inclusion in that section of the bookshop. Not the Discworld books that are already their own YA series - the Tiffany Aching books - but those of the main Discworld books that have young protagonists and represent good gateway books for young readers. So probably Equal Rites, Mort, Pyramids, Soul Music and The Amazing Maurice.

It was thinking about that I designed this Soul Music cover and I've now designed an Equal Rites cover in the same style.

It's probably not quite finished. It was one of those really easy designs that come along once in every five blue moons, it took half a day from deciding to do it to completion. So time will probably give me enough distance to see changes that would benefit it.

The speed of it probably had to do with the fact I have had this graphic device of the inverted pointy hats in my head a long time. In fact I've tried to make it work before, arriving at two images that I like but haven't quite captured the neatness of the image in my head. Now I think I have.

And I think this graphic approach generally may need a little tweaking before I think it's its best self. I'd like to see how bringing in some texture on the text would look, similar to the contrast I went for in this poster. And I'd probably reassess the colour schemes once I had five compositions worked out to look at alongside each other and see how they come across as a set.

But that's something I'd look at after I had worked up the others in the set. Generally I like this approach a lot for this purpose. I feel like it really distances itself from the traditional styling of fantasy in order to emphasise the freshness and youthfulness of the books, and their independence from the rest of the Discworld canon, without looking embarrassed at the content or genre (like those photographic covers I don't like).

And I think the strengths of this style play well to the subject matter of the chosen books. One of the reasons those books are particularly appropriate to a YA market is the strength of their central hook, the clarity of the relationship between individuals and world at the heart of each. And the use of strong vertical, horizontal and 45 degree diagonal lines lends itself to playing to that visually. The above Equal Rites cover is an obvious starting place, bisecting the cover equally as per the title and theme of ambivalence between witch and wizard magic that is the core of the book.

The Soul Music cover is also divided in half - a vertical line down the middle, with one side dominated by Buddy, representing the world of rock stardom and one side by Susan, representing the world of Death. But that book is more of an ensemble piece and so each of their half further showcases the other storylines that interweave: the rest of the band, the wizards, the Librarian, Death and his allies.

Mort would be a simple cover like Equal Rites, emphasising the relationship between death and the boy (because there can be few better hooks tan 'Death gets an apprentice'). Pyramids would obviously suit the diagonal lines rather well, and would play up the contrast between Pteppic's city/assassin world and the Ancient-Egypt-ness of his home country. The Amazing Maurice would balance the world of the human characters with that of the animals.


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