Tuesday, April 7, 2009

PART II - Judging a Book By It's Cover? (Or the film adaptation poster art?) Something like that.

Yesterday, I had some fun comparing the two covers of Wizard's First Rule, by Terry Goodkind and...WOWZA - what a difference a few years makes, eh? We started with a big red dragon beasty on cover #1, and have since axed the dragon and stuck a great big AUTHOR NAME at the tippy top of cover #2. Good times.

Mind you these are just cover art for book jackets. So, what happens when we get a film/TV adaptation? We get...ta-da! A promotional poster! And yes, to your immediate left, you will find the official promo art for the adaptation of Mr Goodkind's first novel from the Sword of Truth series.Back in November, Disney-ABC launched this television series, entitled in TV-land, The Legend of the Seeker. Lemme say it out loud. I love me some chop-socki-bow-and-arrow-sword-swinging-horse-riding-wizard-wielding-action, believe you me. And neither the books nor the TV series is lacking in that department at all.

In our television adaptation's promo poster, we have a gorgeous New Zealand back drop - that's where they film, those lucky ducks; Richard (Sword of Truth in hand); Kahlan (random ball of light in hand? Hmm - I think that might be her "power"); and...yep. An archer dude. Don't know who he is, but he looks kinda-sorta ready to fire away. Maybe.

Anywho, I was pondering how all of these differing images - which are a story's first introduction to a new reader (or viewer) - change, mutate, reveal, underscore, highlight, or possibly even damage a story etc., etc., etc. And, it's kind of fascinating. Publishers and promoters put loads of thought into this kind of stuff (we sure hope they do, at any rate) and, thereby, loads of money, too. Yikes. So, in looking specifically at Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, I wondered aloud to myself:

1. Is the newer book cover more appealing to a readership less inclined to try High Fantasy?

4. Will the TV series drive curiosity and actually introduce new readers to the Sword of Truth books?

5. And now that there is a TV show based on these characters, will readers of the book (future or otherwise) forever see Richard and company with the actor's faces, or with their own brain's creations?

And speaking of the way a film can take over your own mind's idea of what a character looks like, I remember the uber concerned whispers that erupted around the announcement of the first Harry Potter movie. Booksellers, kids, friends, colleagues, parents, everyone (myself included) was worried about the infringement on the eye of their own imagination that might occur under the onslaught of a film director's own images. We all had, and have, our very own vision of how Harry, Hogwart's, Dumbledore - you name it - should look. No doubt about it.

Same could be, can be and is easily said for J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, or Stephenie Meyers' Twilight books. Each has a darn die-hard fan base of readers, and each has been adapted and turned into enormous box office smash hit. I admit to being one of "those people" who was a major detractor of the LotR films; that is, I was a detractor until I was actually sitting in a dark movie theater, and Aragorn took that puff of his pipe in the Prancing Pony which lit his mysterious features - I gasped! It was just as Tolkien described it in the book!

At any rate, there are many many examples to draw from. Maybe I will revisit this again in the future, but for now, I shall leave you with this: my favorite character from the Sword of Truth books and from the Legend of the Seeker television series...

Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander,
Wizard of the First Order:
And I think they got it right - he is exactly what my own imagination conjures as I read.


Kathy said...

Oh...this is such an interesting topic!!! First of all...I'm glad you cleared up a question I've had lately...I was wondering what that show was I kept passing by that looked like a mix of Hercules and the Lord of the Rings...It's the television version of "The Seeker". Cool...thanks for that!! :-) I'll have to actually watch it next time!! I think cover art/poster art is, perhaps unfortunately, VERY important to the success of books and films. As are film trailers. First impressions last. And with regards to the LOTR movies, being a HUGE Tolkien fan, all I can say is it was perfect casting except for the most important character...Frodo. God bless young E. Wood, but I thought he did a terrible job as Frodo and brought what could have been an amazing film trilogy down a few notches. I could go on and on...but I won't!! LOL!!! This is an interesting topic...especially with the whole England Has Talent thing going on with the less than attractive middle aged singer. Hmmm...much to ponder!!

The Book Gobbler said...

I have to agree here. It seems much easier to NOT "judge a book by its' cover" in theory, than it is in practice! It is a first impression and, as you point out, and first impressions do LAST! As shown by the England's Got Talent phenom singer! This is a woman with an absolutely stunning voice, but I think we all saw the incredulous reactions of the judges AND the crowd when she FIRST walked out on that stage...

So, my question for you is this, Miss Kathy: if E. Wood's 'Frodo' failed to align with your imagination's version of Frodo, did it snuff out what you had dreamed up yourself? Who would you have cast?!

(Yes, check out The Seeker when you have a chance - it offers a great deal of fun chop-soki-sword- and-sorcery!)