It’s Christmas soon, and there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than to gather your loved ones close, pick up Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, and then ridicule the shit out of some of its covers.
Most of you have your own Christmas traditions, like roasting a figgy yule log, or helping the Baby Jesus win the battle against the Rat King, or whatever well-adjusted people do at this time of year. However, irreverence is my personal holiday tradition, so here we are.
Usually in this series I provide a plot recap, but y’all know the story: a greedy old he-crone Miranda Priestlys his way around Victorian London and gets terrorized by a bunch of ghosts until he’s a less shitty person–proving that money isn’t the greatest power in the world; fear is.
One of those.
A friend of mine has a theory that is dark as hell: Scrooge’s extreme personality change is not due to him learning the magical lesson of kindness, but rather because of a severe stroke he had in the middle of the night. He blurted out this theory as we finished watching A Muppet Christmas Carol, and nothing in the world was ever good or happy again.
Previous posts in this series include: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Moonstone, Dracula, East Lynne, Lady Audley’s Secret, Wuthering Heights, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Scarlet Letter, and Frankenstein.
My usual disclaimers:
1.) I try only to use professional book covers instead of fan or amateur artwork, because it’s funnier that this stuff has made it through marketing boards with no red flags being raised. At least I *think* these are all professional covers.
2.) Although I’m largely ridiculing these covers, it doesn’t mean I have any issue with the book itself.
3.) I have a foul fucking mouth, make off-color jokes, and I might ruin Christmas for everyone. If this isn’t your thing, don’t read any farther.
ON TO THE COVERS
Let’s start with a few really good ones, shall we? Before we descend into the snark pit? Right.
This is just bloody lovely. Christmassy, but still a little bit bleak. Magical realism and all that.
I love this one. Although it’s anachronistic (obviously they didn’t have strings of electric lights in Dickensian England), it still speaks to how grim the holiday season appears at the beginning of the novel: just this one rather pathetic string of lights encouraging feeble cheer over the grey backdrop of London. Really well done.
This cover is a bit more heartwarming, but not entirely so. The fact that the audience is placed most definitely outside the realm of the characters depicted (separated by the window) is what really gets to the heart of the story. Scrooge is an outsider looking in on happy families, while Bob Cratchit is an outsider looking in on extreme wealth and prosperity.
I’m a sucker for artwork that makes use of negative space. Plus, I love how isolated Scrooge looks and how ominous his fate is, hovering over him, which is kind of the point.
These are both a bit more cartoony than I would normally like, but I love that in both of them, Scrooge is surrounded by comfort (the warm glow of the light and the opulence of his bed), but immediately outside this sphere of comfort is darkness and desolation.
Now on to the BAD covers:
This is a category I call That Looks Just Wrong.
I know this is from a film.
What’s sad is that this has made it through both film studio and publishing company hands without someone going, “Huh. Maybe we shouldn’t choose this particular still, in which Scrooge is mid-orgasm on his rocket-powered phallus.”
This is a really popular cover–I believe from an early illustrated version of the book. No one seems to notice that one couple in the background, who are getting their absolute freak on. Right next to a little boy, I might add.
Not going to lie, their body language makes them both look like sexual predators. Scrooge looks like Herbert from Family Guy. Everything about this is creepy, most especially the eye contact.
There is no way the Ghost of Christmas Present isn’t trying to seduce him. He’s got a roaring fire, sumptuous food, some awkward leg spreading, and has clearly slipped into something more comfortable and popped a few buttons to show off his six pack. Even his expression is like, “So . . . sex? Eh?”
Is anyone else kind of turned on by Patrick Stewart being all buttoned up in Victorian garb, about to flog the audience with a riding crop?
. . . asking for a friend.
Here is a category called Curmudgeons in Bondage
“You know, these manacles are making it a little hard for grandpa to have a poo.”
“Terribly sorry to bother you, sir, but I am here to carry out a haunting. Deuced inconvenience, I’m sure. With your permission, may I proceed? Ah, thank you. Your obedient servant, sir.”
“Uggh, Marley? Do you have to interrupt my midnight snack? I don’t have enough weird grey chocolate bar to go around. Also, when did you get a ponytail?”
“FECK OFF WITH YOUR FECKING CLANKING, YE FECK.”
Jacob Marley looks pretty cheerful, considering he was doomed to an eternity of enslavement in what is clearly some sort of pro-Communist afterlife. He looks like the fucking Rainbow Fish.
This next category is called Nice Knockers.
Is that Benjamin Franklin? He looks like hell.
Trippin’ balls with Marley.
Which is, AMAZINGLY, not a documentary about Bob Marley groupies.
That ghost had his face painted like a kitty! Omg, it’s the ghost of Eric Singer!
This is a category called Sexy Young Scrooge. Give it a couple of years and Hollywood will make a new Christmas Carol film with a shirtless Hemsworth brother as Scrooge. Or, like, that dude from Twilight . You know, the malnourished neurotic one with the hair like a cassowary.
I don’t have any particular problem with any of these covers, except that they’ve forgotten how old Scrooge is.
My husband also said that in all of these, it looks like Tiny Tim is about to beat Scrooge to death, or whip him to go faster.
He’s not wrong.
Finally, this is my catch-all category called Just No.
This isn’t strictly a Christmas Carol cover, but . . . The Fonz as the Crypt Keeper as Scrooge.
Is he wearing a cape of . . . solid gold?
WHO THE FUCK IS THIS?
Overheard in a publishing company’s art department:
“I have a great idea for a cover. We get stacks and stacks of gold, even though that makes no logistical or historical sense, and we put Scrooge peeping out from behind them like Kilroy, but if Kilroy were a little Gringotts goblin. Then in the background we put a cemetery, because there’s a cemetery in that one scene. No, it doesn’t sound like too much, Linda, just trust me on this.”
Ah, yes. A gender-swap Scrooge, because reasons. Also, she’s young and beautiful, because older women can’t be sympathetic protagonists. And again, this is the Victorian era. People didn’t just carrying around vast stacks of gold coins. They did have banks and paper money, you know.
THE STREETS WILL RUN RED WITH TINY TIM’S BLOOD
Medusa Marley has a toothache.
But in all seriousness, I have no goddamn clue what’s happening here.
They have clearly just copy-and-pasted one Scrooge’s face on another Scrooge’s body. How can I tell? BECAUSE HE’S WEARING A NIGHTCAP OUTSIDE, WITH HIS OVERCOAT.
“DO I LOOK LIKE I’D BE INTERESTED IN YOUR FUCKING BULLSHIT, DOG?”
“St. Nick? Oh, I thought you said Old Nick. Santa? I thought you meant Satan. Well, he’s much more my style, anyway.”
That’s all from me. Merry Christmas, my fellow irreverent shits. Keep it weird.