It’s another Bad Book Covers! And today I fulfill my (long-standing) promise to look at some bad The Jungle Book covers. This post ended up being really difficult, because the vast majority of covers I found were beautifully and thoughtfully done.
I’m not going to bother recapping the whole of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1894), because 1.) thanks to Disney, most of you are familiar with the basic premise, and 2.) because it’s actually a collection of short stories about Mowgli, including the 1895 Second Jungle Book, and a few following tales.
One quick fun fact? The Jungle Book was written when Kipling lived in Vermont; I had no idea he lived there at all. As a native Vermonter, this thrills me.
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, Little Women, Jekyll and Hyde, Pamela, Ivanhoe, Anne of Green Gables, Vanity Fair, Turn of the Screw, and She.
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.
As usual, we’ll start with some good covers. I won’t narrate too much about these–I just thought they were lovely and interesting.
Those are all really fun. Now we’ll get to ones that make my head hurt.
There were a couple covers I found, which I shall call Awkward Times With Baloo.
“Great rehearsal, Baloo. We are totally going to kill at the school’s talent show.”
“We . . . we didn’t plan this, Bagheera. We just fell in love. I’m sorry.”
Then there is a category called Shenanigans with Shere Khan.
I DISCOVERED FIRE AND I AM PUNCHING YOU IN THE FACE WITH IT
FOR I AM MAN
WHAT ARE YOU
YOU ARE JUST A KITTY
This photo was snapped just as Shere Khan heard the scariest part of Mowgli’s campfire ghost story.
A literal cat fight.
Those wolves in the back are 100% holding Bagheera’s earrings for him.
Shere Khan found out he wasn’t invited to Mowgli’s party
Now he’s here, and he’s pissed.
I once had a very interesting discussion over the new Jungle Book film, over whether it was white-washing or not to cast white actors to do the voice work for the CGI animals. Some of the points up for debate were 1.) if an actor is playing an animal, can that role be white-washed? and 2.) can you white-wash anything written by Kipling, who had rich, complicated, and largely problematic depictions of India and of empire? Can you white-wash something that is already British and Orientalist?
The debate brought up some really interesting perspectives and further questions, but I have discovered one trope that I think is, beyond all doubt, an example of white-washing: White Mowgli.
On the plus side, Karen Gillan‘s haircut for her role as Mowgli is super cute!
No one likes the post-transformation Beast. Not in 1991. Not now. And sure as hell not in The Jungle Book.
Last but not least, we have General WTF-ery.
“Are you honestly fucking riding me again? Can you at least put pants on this time?”
“You know what? Somehow the loin cloth only makes it more sordid. Get off me.”
Mowgli and Bagheera sittin’ in a tree
First comes abandonment
Then comes wholly unrealistic depictions of the vulnerability inside the animal kingdom due to a human desire to anthropormorphize
Then something something something BABY CARRIAGE
Is Mowgli wearing dungarees?
Shirley got REAL uninhibited riding that mechanical bull at happy hour
That’s it for me today! I have another few posts planned for the coming months, but suggestions are always welcome.