Alright, y’all, as I promised before I went on hiatus, I’m doing some more Bad Book Covers posts this month. Today we’re doing The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886).
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, Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol, and Little Women.
1.) These are all professional book covers instead of fan or amateur artwork (or at least I hope so). I’m more than happy to pick on marketing boards who thought these were good ideas, but I don’t want to pick on fans trying to express their love of books. If a fan cover made it in to this collection, then I’m very sorry and you are clearly a good enough artist to make me assume it was professionally done.
2.) I’m ridiculing the covers, not the book itself.
3.) I’m going to swear. A lot. If this isn’t your thing, then don’t read it.
I probably don’t need to recap this story very much, since you guys know all about it: friends of a respectable doctor start to get worried as he locks himself away, looks like hell, and begins a friendship with this total ass-face named Mr. Hyde. Friends start to suspect Mr. Hyde is straight up murderin’ folk. In the end we discover that the respectable doctor has been doing weird experiments on himself in an attempt to break off the ‘evil’, primitive side of his soul, only he’s fucked it up, and managed to release his inner, unrepressed dick-muffin of an Id, and he actually IS Mr. Hyde *gasp*. Mr. Hyde starts taking over, so the doctor ices himself, and everyone is like, “What the shit just happened?”
On to the covers!
Okay, first let me begin by saying that a lot of the covers I found were just . . . fine. This is the worst possible thing for me when I’m trying to do these posts. For such a dynamic story, I kind of felt like I was scraping the bottom of the barrel to get either really spectacular covers, or really spectacularly stupid covers.
I did find a few patterns, though, including Hyde is a Straight-Up Monster. For those of you who haven’t read the book, they do this wonderfully (pre-)Lovecraftian thing where there is something deeply disturbing about Hyde physically, but no one can quite seem to pinpoint what it is; words fail them. Which, to be frank, is way scarier than THIS poppycock:
Remember the part where Hyde is a werewolf? ME NEITHER.
Or this one, where Hyde is some sort of feral gap-toothed leprechaun suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis? Look at that nasty-ass gray skin. Get yourself to a doctor, man.
Hyde is merely the human host for the Hell-Caterpillars living on his face.
Damn, son, pluck those brows.
Hyde: Now made with 100% more straw!
Every time I look at this, I just think, “I’m in hell.”
Then, on the flip side of things, you have Hot Hyde, which, to be honest, makes a lot of sense given the comedy versions of Jekyll and Hyde.
You can club me with your phallic walking stick ANY day.
This photo is clearly a favorite in art departments.
It’s a scientific fact that you become 1,000X hotter and more dangerous just by removing your glasses. If he were on Family Matters, I’d expect him to say, “My name’s JeKALL“.
And, of course, there has to be a section called I Loves a Good Floggin’, I does.
THE GLEE, YOU GUYS, ON THIS EARLY C20TH COVER
General sensationalizing of violence.
Floggings! Now with bonus shadow puppets!
That’s the face you make when you find $20 on the street.
“Boogity boogity boogity BOO!”
Then there’s a section which shows just how completely some art departments have misunderstood the tone of the novel: Happy-Clappy Laboratories
Nothing seems amiss here. Except I’ve clearly made an aging potion.
In which Hagrid has a bit of a shave, makes a new flavor of Kool-Aid and nothing ever goes wrong again.
One’s a cheeky man-about-town, one’s an uptight scientist. Together, these roommates are “Jekyll and Hyde”. Coming this fall to NBC.
There’s also a section I call Cartoonish Buffonery, which is either taking Jekyll and Hyde too seriously, or not seriously enough. I can’t tell which.
Utterson had the AUDACITY to tell Jekyll that the Wolverine look just didn’t suit him.
I hope to shit DC Comics saw some royalty money for this Joker rip-off.
WHY DOES JEKYLL HAVE AN EYE PATCH?
WHY IS HE OUT ON THE STREET WITH A FLASK FULL OF NASTY?
WHY IS HYDE SO OLD?
I get that they’re trying to do a whole “two men tethered together as one” sort of thing, but this just kind of looks like conjoined twins linked together by a thousand skin tags.
And finally, we have our catch-all category called Meaningless Nonsense.
Nope, this is nonsense. There is nothing with rats or scalpels in this story. This is a reject cover from maybe Frankenstein or Dracula, or a cover entirely made up by someone who has never read the book but *thinks* they know what it’s about.
Put that knife down. It has no place in this book.
In this version, Hyde is manifested in half a mustache that can’t be shaved, and a monocle which must never be taken off.
In this edition of the book, Dr. Jekyll turns into sad Ian McShane. Nothing happens, but everyone swears A LOT.
Are those supposed to be tree roots dripping over the curb?
Jekyll sure as hell isn’t a tree doctor, that’s for damn sure.
What does the design on the cover mean?
Why are there flowers?
Hyde is portrayed here as a lumbering, hulking figure, which would be great and all, except Hyde is supposed to be tiny and vaguely deformed.
There’s a man in this book, but he’s facing away, so you know it must be kind of moody.
And last but not least, the category I call Almost Good. I have to admit that I didn’t find any covers that astounded me. The most I could hope for were competent covers that put a tiny bit of thought into the subject matter but weren’t completely derivative or ridiculous.
While the guy looks like a bit of a doofus, what I like is the ambiguous figure behind him. Is it a different man, or just the same man from a different perspective? We can’t quite tell. AND THAT’S THE POINT.
A bit of a sensational cover, I suppose, but I like that we can’t really see Hyde. He’s just a shadowy presence looming before us on a dark street, combining fear of the unknown with fear of the urban known.
I wanted to hate this cover, as it almost falls under the category of “random picture of a old timey-looking dude on the cover”. The more I look at it, though, the more I’m really into the blurriness of the picture. One of the major points of the novel is the difficulty the reader and characters have in seeing Jekyll/Hyde clearly, both literally and figuratively.
I will end this post with something that really sums up the spirit of both Jekyll and Hyde, something that is both truly brilliant and truly horrifying: David Hasselhoff playing the lead characters in the musical version of Jekyll and Hyde. This is his big Smeagol moment, in which he literally ‘transforms’ by turning the side of his head with the long, greasy hair to the audience. So much whiplash.