I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled “Badass Women” posts to bring you another installment of Bad Book Covers. One of the Sherlock Holmes novels, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), was recommended to me by @VictorianMasc and @DrDouglasSmall about a year ago, and I’m only just getting around to it–mostly because one of my followers, @haru_onthetrain linked me to some damn ridiculous covers that got my butt in gear.
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, She, The Jungle Book, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
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.
Plot Recap (SPOILERS)
Sir Charles Baskerville croaks mysteriously at his big swanky Gothic-ass estate, and his buddy, Dr James Mortimer, asks Sherlock to check it out. Dr Mortimer says that the official cause of death is a heart attack, but he’s suspicious because Sir Charles died with an expression of horror on his face.
Yeah. Having a painful heart attack will do that.
BUT there were also footprints near his body. Footprints . . . of a giant hound! Dun dun DUUUUUUHHHH! The Baskerville family has been under a curse for hundreds of years when a shitty ancestor offered his soul to Satan so he could sexually assault a woman, and was then immediately killed by a giant black hell-hound. Dr Mortimer now fears for the life of the new heir, Sir Charles’s nephew, Henry Baskerville.
Henry’s had some weird shit happen to him already, including having one of his boots stolen and getting a serial killer-style note that’s like, “STAY OFF THE MOOR, I’M DEFINITELY NOT TRYING TO LURE YOU OUT HERE SO I CAN KILL YOU, UHHHH, DEMON DOGS WILL EAT YOUR SOUL OR SOMETHING, ‘KAY?”
Sherlock and Watson go back with Henry to Baskerville Manor, and a series of other weird-ass nonsense happens, like further boots disappearing and reappearing, a dude with a big beard stalking Henry, and an escaped convict hiding out on the moors.
I gotta ask, has literally anything good ever happened on the moors? Like, name one single thing. I dare you.
Sherlock and Watson get to the house and hear random crying in the middle of the night, and the butler starts acting suspicious, and everyone hears an animal baying. They meet a brother and sister, Mr and Miss Stapleton, who collect butterflies and shit on the moors, and therefore seem utterly uninterested in the concept of their own mortality. Lust for butterfly capture > potential maiming by demon dog.
Miss Stapleton is hot, so she and Henry fall in love, as you do, but her brother gets all weird and possessive.
In a series of totally predictable family secrets, it turns out that the butler is the escaped convict’s brother, and he’s been leaving him supplies on the moor, and also Mr and Miss Stapleton aren’t really brother and sister–they’re married!
Then the convict dies from a fall–because god knows felons can’t escape a Victorian novel happily–but he was wearing some of Henry’s old clothes, so Sherlock thinks he was mistaken for the Baskerville heir and targeted.
Sherlock notices a convenient family portrait that looks a lot like Mr Stapleton–is he secretly a Baskerville relative looking to kill off every heir who stands between him and inheriting the estate?
They rush to Stapleton’s place just in time. He released a giant mastiff to attack Henry as Henry was walking across the moor, and they shoot the dog dead, and discover it looked all creepy because it was painted with phosphorus to make it glow. They kill Stapleton in his attempt to escape, free his sister/wife who he has kept tied up in the basement or some such shit, and also relocate Henry’s missing boot, which Stapleton had stolen to give the dog his scent.
All wrong-doers are dead (and also dog, but no one much cares), and all boots are reunited, and everyone is happy, except PETA.
On to the covers!
We’ll start with a few good covers, shall we?
This is probably the most original take–I have yet to see any other cover that doesn’t reference a hound in some way (even if this does kind of give away the identity of the murderer).
These are all perfectly lovely and ominous portrayals of hounds. No complaints from me!
But I know you guys don’t come here to look at good covers. So let’s get on with it. I call the below category Hounds That Harness the Power of the Sun:
Greg, I don’t want to alarm you, but I think you may be on fire.
“Susan . . . did you give the dog all our MDMA?”
No comment, I’m just going to link to a Doctor Who reference.
This next section is called The Dangers of Crossbreeding Your Pets
There is something significantly wrong with that camel.
The Pregnant Three-Headed Fox of the Baskervilles
In this version, Sherlock goes on an imperial adventure to central Africa, upon hearing reports of an accursed spectral gorilla terrorizing the area.
Hey, this is the height of empire. I’m sure at least 14 stories like that were written. In that year alone.
Honestly not sure if that’s supposed to be a leaf-nosed bat, a panther, or a ‘hound’, but it’s fucking awful, whatever it is.
This leads me to my favorite section, The Fluffy Pupper of the Baskervilles:
I know that’s probably Holmes’s dog, Toby, but COME ON, the title has the word ‘hound’ in it, and THIS is the dog you put on the cover?
“My god, Holmes! The hound has struck again! It shivered, and yipped, and peed itself until the man DIED!”
(the caption his hysterical, by the way, and knowingly so. I kind of love this cover)
I like that Holmes looks like he’s inspecting the world’s tiniest, most pathetic hunting dogs–none of which which, consequently, IS THE FUCKING HOUND BEING REFERENCED.
There is an associated category called Sad Hound Is Sad:
“Don’t shoot, I just want him to LOVE ME”
“What . . . hath . . . I . . . wrought?”
That dog is doing the ugly cry. That dog is me during my entire 8th grade year.
“Rupert, why would you say such hurtful things to me? Didn’t our road trip to the Catskills mean anything to you?”
And the final catch-all category, linked by only one theme: Too Confusing to Make Me Mad
I . . .
Um . . .
OUR LOVE CAN NEVER BE
Is Holmes doing straight-up opium now? There is no other reason for him to be that louche and also holding a gun.
I have a PhD in loucheness (and Victorian literature), so I am authorized to make this assessment.
“Hey, Craig, do you have any ideas about how we can make the dog on the cover art kind of spooky?”
“You could … give him … a … smoke … tongue?”
“Goddamn it, Craig, you brilliant bastard. You’ve outdone yourself again.”
That’s all I have for you today, but I have at least one other Bad Book Covers post on deck, probably for next month. As always, I am open to suggestions!