Then Tine Hreno, who I follow on Twitter, did a post on her blog about Dracula covers (you should all read her blog post, because it's far more grown-up, scholarly, and interesting than anything I'm going to post here).
As soon as I read it, I went, "DRACULA. OF COURSE. HOW COULD I HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT DRACULA?"
So here we go again. As usual, I have attempted to use only real publisher's covers, not fan art. However, if some fan art has accidentally made it on to this list and I ridiculed it, 1.) I am sorry, and 2.) it was good enough to fool me into thinking that it could be slapped on a book and sold at Barnes & Noble, so congrats. You are one talented mofo.
THE SNARK IS THE LIFE
Let's start on a positive note. Here are some really, REALLY good covers.
These two Penguin covers just made me laugh. Maybe slightly too comical for very dark books, but at least the publisher is being playful.
While not terribly adventurous, this version is pretty and hard to fault.
I enjoy this one, but possibly only because it reminds me of the Hannibal opening credits. Damn, that cranberry juice gets everywhere.
I adore the simplicity of this cover. It's not trying too hard to be gory or creepy, but it manages to be both by reminding you (without spelling it out) what Dracula does to his victims.
This cover integrates sexuality, longing, voyeurism, threat, mortality, vulnerability, and even hunger into a single unconventional image. Good job, everyone. It's ten times creepier (to me, at least) than all the lazy blood spatter that's been Jackson-Pollocked over 120 years of covers.
Speaking of which, let's look at some covers that, while aren't bad, are a bit lazy.
Yup, there's blood in the book.
Lots of it!
And also, did you know he BITES PEOPLE?
In case you need to be hit over the head with a sledgehammer wielded by Captain Obvious.
"How much blood should we put on this cover?"
"Make it look like the prom scene in Carrie! Preferably with a Dracula figure who's not dressed in 19th-century clothing! You know, to attract the youths."
It took me forever to realize that was a wooden stake. I was like, "Who gets stabbed with a pencil? Boy, do I need to read this again."
"What happens in Dracula?"
"Uh, I think it's about sleeping. And gore. Lots of gore."
"Okay, well, a modern sleep-mask should represent the 'sleep' part. Do we have any gore hanging around the art department?"
"No, but we can cut up tiny pieces of red construction paper."
On the flip side, there are also weirdly chirpy covers.
I never realized until this moment just how much garlic looks like bundles of testicles. CAN NEVER BE UNSEEN.
Chuck Palahniuck's Dracula
Dracula: The Tale of an Instagram Filter
Deck the halls with the limbs of your deceased loved ones.
Dracula: A Fairy Tale
Speaking of which . . .
This looks like the cover to Peter and the
What even is this? Do I like this?
Dracula: A Tuscan Romp
Dracula: A Cornish Romp
Dracula: An Architect's Guide
Dracula: LOOK AT MA COLORS
Now comes the section I like to call 'Overly Geometrical, Minimalist Covers: The Andy Warhol Collection'
(I actually really enjoy this cover but I don't think the style of artwork suits the story very well)
By all means, spell out the title of the book in the most illegible way possible.
I . . . I don't even know what this is. It looks like the title credits for The Great Gatsby got lost and stumbled onto this book cover. Because nothing says Dracula like art deco.
This is the section I like to call "The Fangs of Plagiarism".
(Hey, guys, have you heard of my death-metal band, The Fangs of Plagiarism? We only plays songs about correct citation styles.)
This is a concept that, the first time you see it, seems very clever. Until you realize that it has been mimicked over and over and over.
Hey, look what you did there! That's pretty cool!
Oh, that's a neat variation! That works really well!
Oh, okay, that works, too. That's kind of fun.
Sigh. Okay. I guess we're still doing this.
And I guess we've been doing this for 100 years. This book may have been the first to do the Dracula fangs, but it is DEFINITELY ripping off this famous image of a Victorian woman in a bat costume for Halloween. HAVE YOU NO SHAME?
And we couldn't possibly have a selection of Dracula book covers without an "Inspired by the Film" section.
"Dafuq you just say to me?"
"I beg your pardon. Have we met?"
Not even pretending like they're not stealing Nosferatu's silhouette. You owe SOMEBODY royalties, Penguin.
Although Nosferatu actually STOLE the plot of Dracula when they couldn't get the rights, changed the name, and made the film without having to pay any royalties to the Stoker estate, who, in turn won a huge lawsuit against the filmmakers. So maybe this is Penguin giving a big ole literary "fuck you" to Nosferatu?
In which case, well played.
"I'll get you, my pretty! And your little capillaries, too! *cape swoosh*"
Here's something I never understood: Dracula doesn't obey the normal rules of gravity (for humans, I mean, not for nightmare hell-leeches like him. I don't even know what laws of physics apply to nightmare hell-leeches). HOWEVER, surely his clothes should obey the laws of gravity, right?
I love how in the second cover, Harker's looking out at him, like, "Could you keep it down out there? I'm trying to sleep!"
And while I appreciate that there are a lot of complicated and sometimes problematic gender dynamics in the book, I wish the rule of thumb didn't seem to be, "Depict threats against women! It'll sell like hotcakes!"
"Just trying to comb your hair while you sleep."
"Shall we duplicate that really great cover of the woman's throat that was discussed above?"
"Yeah, but get some SERIOUS cleavage in there, too. Just in case they don't understand the thinly-veiled sexual metaphors in this book."
He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake . . .
Looks like he's going after her necklace, not her sweet, sweet blood.
Wouldn't it be amazing if Dracula was the story of a cat burglar whose job casing the Westenra household went horribly wrong? Like, he leaves Lucy's house, calls his contact, and goes, "I'm not quite sure how it happened, but things. . . uh . . . things escalated quickly. Mrs. Westenra's dead. A wolf jumped through the window."
Burt Reynolds-Dracula says yes to groping unconscious females.
As does Rhett Butler-Dracula.
(I'm aware this is a comic and not a book cover.)
This looks like a cover for Lars Van Trier's Dracula. (For those of you who haven't seen the advertising he did for his movie, Nymphomaniac, tell me I'm wrong).
"What? She was like that when I found her. I swear."
What also interests me is how Dracula himself is depicted on the covers.
BACH FROM THE DEAD.
Gives new meaning to "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."
I . . . what? What happened to his face? There is nothing I can even say here that is funnier than just looking at his messed up cheekbones.
This is not even REMOTELY how Dracula is described in the book. I think there is some weird Sleepy Hollow monster cross-over.
I gots ma bat, and ma wolf, and ma stick tied to a piece of string, and ma caveman hair, and ma fetid bear pelt of a coat. I'm Dracula.
This looks like the unfinished marble bust of Benedict Cumberbatch, dressed as Paul Revere, who just dipped his fingertips into something caustic.
"AAAACHOO, AAACHOO! Sorry. God, the hayfever is AWFUL in Transylvania this year."
Dracula: The Quest for Chapstick
Aint no party like a vampire fop party, because a vampire fop party serves canapes at the blood orgy.
I forgot the part where Dracula was a Juggalo.
JUGGALOS 4 LIFE
Not one pair of fingernail clippers in Transylvania. NOT. ONE.
H.G. Wells's Dracula.
This is actually how Dracula is described in the book. Minus the profoundly sketchy side-eye. That's a side-eye that says, "Hey, baby. I bet you taste really nice."
And, last but not least, some random weirdness:
For anyone who fantasizes about a sex harpy.
(Fun fact: underpants have not been invented in ye olde Transylvania)
Jonathan Harker gets locked in a tower. We've circled what a tower looks like, to ease your visualization.
Dracula: Somebody Sees Something At Some Point In This Book
Pretty sure that's Mina and Harker, pretty sure she's nomming on him. Hey. They're married. It's okay.
And just for fun, this:
It is absolutely not too late for him to, I dunno, roll over? Push her away? Grab the stake?
If anyone knows of any other 19th-century books with excellent covers, please suggest them in the comments!