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Nov 22

GAH! It's a killer cranberry!Click for full image

Phil’s Art Direction: I’m CERTAIN people will buy this. If it was good enough for Hugo Gernsback, it’s good enough for me.
Published 1987

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 8.12 out of 10)
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22 Responses to “What Mad Universe”

  1. SI Says:

    Maybe I’m wrong but I kinda think for something in 1987 it does a pretty good job at looking like retro sci-fi!

    Also a light hearted romp. We’re pushing the rules slightly with this one! 😛

  2. THX 1138 Says:

    “Hilarious”? The red blob certainly looks as if he’s laughing.

  3. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    Which of the figures on the cover, I wonder, is the “man trapped?”

    It is a reasonable pulp pastiche, although it betrays its ’80s vintage. The woman is more like a classic pinup than like a pulp cover, but I’m quibbling here.

    I think “lighthearted romps” should be fair game. Their covers can be awful, too.

  4. Dave Van Domelen Says:

    Paste-up error, not a man “trapped”. The man is on the cover. It’s a trap.

  5. Jon Says:

    Sing it with me!

    Attaaaack of the killer tomatoesssss!

  6. THX 1138 Says:

    Maybe he’s a man trapped in a woman’s body?

  7. A.R.Yngve Says:


    Pam pam pam, pa-pa-pa-pam pam pam…

    Return of the killer tomatoes
    Return of the killer tomatoes!
    They’re back and now they’ve gone space
    To masticate the human race
    For dinner and lunch
    and maybe dessert!

    Pam pam pam, pa-pa-pa-pam pam pam…

  8. Phil Says:

    I admit to being in two minds on submitting this cover. The book knowingly refers to the cliches of SF, and I think the cover does, too. However, the average bookshop browser is unlikely to know about this knowingness…. and is, I think, more likely to utter a justified ‘WTF?’

  9. Tom Noir Says:

    Even if she got away from those things that spaceship is far too small to hold her.

  10. Jaouad Says:

    What happened to her right arm? Why is she wearing only nylons and a top?

  11. fred Says:

    Wow. That unknown Vargas must be worth millions.

  12. Adam Roberts Says:

    What mad universe! What bad cover-art!

  13. drlemaster Says:

    If her outfit were less stupid, this would actually be an awesome retro cover. But is looks like someone took a pinup and photoshopped on a weird jacket-type-thing.

  14. Scott B Says:

    Her right arm appears to either be twisted behind her back at an unnatural angle, or reaching into a hole in the rock face for… the key to her chains? Some weapon or repllant to use on the red tentacle-thingies? The Exit Button to the Mad Universe?

  15. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    It’s pre-Photoshop. The girl is airbrushed, but she looks funny because the rest of the painting isn’t airbrushed.

    The more I look at it, the more I think the artist just copied an old pinup (without necessarily understanding anatomy) and gave her ’80s modern hair and makeup. Her right arm is missing, as Jaouad noted, her right leg is totally flat, and her left hand is stiff and flat.

    @Phil, I like humorous covers that give a wink and nod to genre clichés, but they still have to work as covers. They can’t just rely on cheap allusions. Visual humor is just as subtle and tricky as written humor. And if they go horribly, horribly wrong, even funny covers should be open to criticism.

  16. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    By the way, I think an example of a humorous cover which succeeds brilliantly is this original cover of the parody “Bored of the Rings”:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2679/4366313055_2e6cc4f5a4.jpg

    Painted by noted muppet designer Michael Frith, it sends up the bizarre paperback cover art if the late ’60s edition of “Lord of the Rings” while conveying actual plot elements and the absurdity of the story.

  17. Phil Says:

    Hmm, there is something weird about the poor woman’s upper garment. Not much support for the devil’s dumplings* there.

    * Merely echoing the terminology used in the Admin’s official tags, although curiously not applied in this instance.

  18. The Tag Wizard Says:

    You are right Phil! I completely forgot about the boobs! I must have been tired… 😛

  19. Tom Noir Says:

    You’re never too tired for boobs.

  20. Anti-Sceptic Says:

    What mad universe? I don’t see any mad universe.

  21. A.R.Yngve Says:

    If I may, Phil: CERTAIN people will buy this.

    Ba-da-bum!

  22. Anna T. Says:

    Quite apart from the damsel, has anyone else noticed that the red alien thing is wearing a pair of cheap plastic vampire teeth?

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