New “Fuzzy Nation” Cover

I have clearance from Tor Books art director Irene Gallo to show this to you, so here’s an in-progress look at the new Fuzzy Nation cover:

I am very deeply pleased with this cover, I have to say.

The artist is Kekai Kotaki, about whom I have not heard much of before, but who is clearly really good at what he does.

Some of you may remember the original Fuzzy Nation cover I commissioned from Jeff Zugale and wonder what had become of it. The short answer is that I commissioned that cover from Jeff for my own specific purposes. Once the book sold to Tor, they of course commissioned their own art. I love Jeff’s cover — it was because of it that I immediately thought of him for the Unicorn Pegasus Kitten –  but I also love this new cover as well. The great thing is I can love them both.

Right now, Fuzzy is scheduled for a May 2011 release, and I’m happy to say we’ve already sold in audio and some foreign markets, so things are off to an excellent start. I’ll have more to tell the closer we get to release, so stay tuned.

54 thoughts on “New “Fuzzy Nation” Cover

  1. I’m a little bit amused by the Dallas Morning News quote on the cover. “If Stephen King were to try his hand at science fiction”? I thought he already had . . . :)

  2. Jack is NOT supposed to be that young and good-looking – but that minor quibble aside I eagerly anticipate the reboot.

  3. Very nice. I always picture Sam Elliott as Jack, but that may be due to early and repeated exposure to Roadhouse.

    May, huh? Think it will be out in time for our birthday? Would make my husband’s shopping much easier!

  4. I like them both, but the guy in the Tor version is a little too ‘superhandsome romance hero’ for me. I think it’s the Bieber hair…

  5. I suspect we’ll never know what your own specific purposes were for commissioning the Zugale cover. You do make them sound fascinatingly nefarious.

  6. Nice. Although I have to join in with the wonderment of how the DMN doesn’t think that, say, “Under the Dome” is Science Fiction…

  7. No accounting for taste. I feel I like the other one better, but I think this one would sell better. Probably the homage thing tipping my taste.

  8. Don’t run with that Dallas Morning News quote. First, it’s stale, coming from an April 2006 review. Second, as others note, Stephen King has tried his hand in the genre and with pretty good commercial success and so it sets an odd note from the start — Like it was being marketed by people who don’t know their stuff or aren’t current. Third, the Dallas Morning News? Really? You can do better with reviews from organizations or people that more Scifi readers would likely know. The art is fine and will probably help sell the book though I suspect that the NYT Bestselling author blurb will pull more people in after they’ve picked the book off the shelf.

  9. Jack can has mustache?

    Oh, wait. I see. That’s been rebooted into a goat. Fine. ‘s nice anyway. And lookit that big whoppin’ name above the title! Next comes the ®, right?

    (Re DMN & the King: Under the Dome, sure. But how about “The Jaunt” from, like, 1980?)

  10. Mmhm, that guy’s cute, while not coming across as a sleezy romance cover model. I’ll buy it just for that…and the writing of course. :P

  11. Argon:

    You appear to be under the impression that I have any say in which blurb they choose to use for the cover.

    Beyond that, unless you reveal yourself to be a crack book marketing expert who has consistently shepherded titles onto the NYT Bestseller list, I’m pretty sure the marketing people’s response to your advice will be “Thanks, we know our job.”

  12. Fuzzy!

    The first person I overhear in a bookstore making a snide remark about Fuzzies being a ripoff of Ewoks will be subjected my righteous wrath. Gently, of course.

    Also, obviously Stephen King hasn’t written science fiction, because he’s a very popular writer.

  13. The art is awesome.

    I would second (third? fourth?) the whole “don’t run with that quote” vote. I realize it might be out of your hands, but maybe you could mention it to your editor? King has written sci/fi (obviously) for one, and, as someone else pointed out, that quote is old. I’m sure they can find less dated and more accurate praise for you, Scalzi :)

  14. That Stephen King quote:

    First, almost nobody reading that blurb will know how old it is, and even fewer people will care.

    Secondly, however illogical the blurb is with respect to Stephen King and science fiction, only a few of the most anal people on the planet would refuse to buy the book because of it. They will be far outnumbered by the people who decide to give the book a try because King got name-checked.

  15. So if I’ve never read Little Fuzzy, should I read it first and then read Nation, or should I read Nation first and then the original?

  16. Yeah, I assume the take-away of the quote at a glance is “Stephen King yada yada + science fiction yada yada = John Scalzi.”

    I don’t buy books because of blurbs, but I’ve never *not* bought a book because of a book either.

  17. DGL:

    Yah, what John said. When he surprised us with this news a while back, I grabbed the original and re-read it. Good stuff, and I’m looking forward to the reboot.

  18. Tara Maya:

    I don’t buy books because of blurbs, but I’ve never *not* bought a book because of a book either.

    I have occasionally bought books in part because one or more of the blurbs said something interesting about the book. On the other hand, I hate name-check blurbs with the fiery passion of a dying sun. (*) On the gripping hand, I don’t think even the most blatantly shallow name-check blurb has caused me to *not* buy a book.

    (*) I save my supernova-level hatred for name-check blurbs that are nothing but “[This author] is the new [that author].” ==> Insert frothing here. <==

  19. I think I like this cover better than the art John commissioned, but I really hate the hipster douchebag beard. And, yeah, Jack should be older. But it is a good cover and I hope it sells many, many books.

    I’m a bit out of the loop when it comes to SF cover artists these days. Kotaki looks like someone to keep an eye on, though. Before I saw the artist’s name, I was trying to guess who it was. I definitely saw influences from both Whelan and Burns, but it obviously wasn’t either of them. What’s interesting is that, on his website, most of his stuff looks more like Boris Vallejo. I guess that means he’s pretty versatile.

  20. Bearpaw, I see your supernova and raise you a neutron star on the cosmic hatred of the “X is the new Y” blurb. Yeech.

    Tangentially related anecdote: When Sholem Aleichem (Fiddler on the Roof/Tevye the Milkman etc) was introduced to Mark Twain as “the Yiddish Mark Twain,” Mark Twain asked to be introduced back as “the English Sholem Aleichem.”

  21. People, remember, this is a reboot. Unless you’ve already read Scalzi’s version, you don’t know how old Jack is. Starbuck was supposed to be male, too.

  22. Lots of comments about Jack, but none about how Fuzzy looks? I’m comparing to the artwork on the Little Fuzzy paperback I’ve got, but I like this look much better. Jack can look any way he wants to; Fuzzy’s the star.

  23. I’ll have to see what the book is really about to give an informed opinion of the cover. But I think, on balance, I prefer the first one with the man sitting.

    The second certainly has a more interesting artistic style, but the rugged, boy-band looking guy is off-putting.

  24. Lots of comments about Jack, but none about how Fuzzy looks?

    Doesn’t look like an Ewok. WIn. Epic win. A veritable Coke Zero Niagara of win.

    That is all.

  25. Jeff’s cover painting had, IMHO, a cooler-looking office and much more believable vehicle parked outside. But the new one has a more “classic” Fuzzy, and I don’t mind Jack looking like a young hipster. Like Nathan said, the aliens are the stars, and looks right to this longtime Piper fan.

    ::thumbs up::

  26. I’m going to say something negative about the cover and complain that the perspective on the aeroscooter thing outside looks off to me… the curve of the back is out of whack with the curve above the seat, and the windshield looks rotated to the right from our POV, as if the chassis is twisted. Maybe it’s been in a prang.

  27. You appear to be under the impression that I have any say in which blurb they choose to use for the cover.

    Oh no, I *know* exactly how much say authors have about how their work is presented. Practically zilch, a smidge above one over infinity times zilch. I probably shouldn’t have written “you”. Sorry.

    Blurbs and purchasing behavior: Actually, I have made book purchasing decisions based on the blurbs. The problem is finite dollars vs. many books from author’s I’ve never read. All things being equal…

    Beyond that, unless you reveal yourself to be a crack book marketing expert who has consistently shepherded titles onto the NYT Bestseller list, I’m pretty sure the marketing people’s response to your advice will be “Thanks, we know our job.”

    I’m certain of that. Granted, I’m only a sample of one and the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but… say I’m browsing at the local store and I see: “NYT Bestseller” – Hmm.. possibly interesting… I’ll bet 10 quatloos it’s worth investigating further. Looking down I read: “If Stephen King were to…” – WTF? The reviewer doesn’t appear to know what he’s talking about and that’s presented as a positive view, by *Tor* of all publishers.(!?!) 15 quatloos against the newcomer. If I hadn’t read anything from Scalzi before* I might walk away from the book (*Fortunately, I have, and of particular utility to John’s college fund for the offspring, those books were purchased ’cause I couldn’t wait for library to carry them).

  28. Wait: since when has “John Scalzi” been bigger on your covers than the book’s title? That’s an important landmark, sir. It means you’ve Arrived.

    Mr. President of the SFWA.

  29. What’s really distracting, and unpleasant, about the blurb at the bottom of the cover is the suggestion that this might be in any way like a Stephen King treatment of the Little Fuzzy universe.

    But that night, while Jack slept, Little Fuzzy’s eyes began to glow a deep maniacal red. He crept to the middle of the bed, next to Jack’s sleeping form, grasping his choppo-diggo; swung it high above his furry little head; then brought it down, swiftly and dexterously, as he had at the lobsters — chop! chop! chop! chop! chop!

  30. Scalzi,

    Sorry, but this is one vile, incompetent mockup by a cretin..

    The perspective is child-like flat, the guy’s pose is unnatural, his hand appears to go thru the table rather than picking what I can only assume is some trans-galactic wonder-melon… The cockpit-like contraption along with the tree and the nauseating birdy squiggles fail to convey any sense of depth, location, relevancy, -it’s what you get when artsy-poofs spend their time on ‘cute’ rather than facing the challenges of composition / anatomy / dynamic (posing)/ perspective (foreshortening)/ lighting / texturing / detailing etc…

    I checked out his galleries knowing full well that I would not find a modicum of artistic integrity and guess what -I was actually surprised by the extent to which he went to conceal the fact that he cannot draw hands/feet/eyes, that he failed to draw a complete human in sketch form but will contort a torso around ju/t tickles my tinker – fortunately for him, he has a very developed coping mechanism, mostly ‘evasive muckery’….

    And the reason most folks won’t necessarily pick up on all this is, by large, how the cover treatment legitimizes the ‘art’ -it just looks like so many other sci-fi covers, you wind up judging more on how it conforms to the genre than on proper merit.

    I’d say the publishers were looking to pay some kid some $300 or so, and maybe we’re not to judge a book by it’s cover, but in your place, I would crucify the publishers for a stinker….

    regards, -G

  31. Guringo:

    Eh. It’s not nearly as bad as that. I like it; among other things it reasonably accurately portrays a scene in the book, which is something not all book covers do. Your formal artistic complaints (which are more than little rhetorically overblown) aside, the book cover isn’t just an artistic composition, it’s also advertising for the book; the elements of the art work to establish genre and tone of the work to anyone who views the cover and wonders what sort of book lies inside.To that extent, your criticism that the elements of the painting fail to show location, relevancy, etc is flatly incorrect.

    I like the cover for the artwork itself, but as a commercial author, I also very much like the cover for how it sells my book. That’s what this art is supposed to do and does. You may not like and/or appreciate this element of the art, and that’s your call to make. But speaking as someone for whom most people’s first contact with his words will be the wrapping the words are in, and who has more than a little experience with cover art and how it works as marketing, this is a cover that works, and that I suspect will do well for me and the book. I’m glad I have it.

  32. John Scalzi,

    lol, you’re alright, I half expected you to trash me for bashing a piece you came out exalting, but you didn’t…

    However, whether it portrays reasonably (or accurately) a scene in the book is a far second to which scene
    would best suit the cover, and without the manuscript, I’m only guessing that you have at least 2 dozen better scenes than ‘Breakfast at Tiffanus’…

    And were we all to agree that this was in fact the best scene for the cover, it shouldn’t weigh in favor or compensate for the quality of the rendition. Is it so much to ask for a wee-bit more photo-realism? Can’t we flesh out the cockpit thingamajig? Use some 3D, perhaps elevate it and add a mechanic so we can appreciate its size etc?

    And how all this pertains to the book’s reception is precisely why I gutted this piece. I don’t advocate fine-art orthodoxy, in fact I hate haute-couture snobbery in whatever form or medium, no less than I hate the ‘fakers’, and yes, this here is a faker, it doesn’t matter what best serves you, you’ll get what he’s comfortable taking on, and that never -ever- pans out in the client’s favor or at the cash-register.

    And btw, I just stumbled onto your site following the Crooks Source story -so I’m neither familiar with your work nor vested in the matter,

    -G

    p.s. Raven, ask yourself this, did Jack need long hair or does the artist find ‘ears’ too difficult? da Vinci is the personification of mastery, and that, on the outset, requires heaps of personal/artistic integrity, precisely what this guy lacks…

  33. Guringo:

    It’s also important to note that this is an “in-progress” look at the cover, as specified in the entry.

    That said, however, what you’re basically doing here is noting the things you don’t like, rather than things that we could all agree are wrong with the cover. Be aware that none of my books from Tor have “photorealistic” covers, for example. That hasn’t stopped them from being successful covers for the books. Again, book cover art is about more than the art; it’s how it speaks to booksellers and to consumers as well.

  34. John (if I may),

    You’re right, I did miss the ‘in-progress’ and the one thing he did right (imo) was to depict a ‘younger’ Jack.

    But some points I’d pass on – the fuzzy is holding the fruit way too high, consequently he seems mesmerized by his palm more
    than the fruit, he could also be scaled up a bit, even if that’s taking a certain liberty, it will create a greater impact -and the fruit itself ought to be considerably bigger. On the other hand, he does seem to capture a moment, creating a mood, I’ll give him that…

    all the best, -G

  35. I don’t really have time to address all of Guringo’s criticisms, some of which may be warranted, but dude, calling the artist a cretin? Uncool. Implying that the artist has no interest in improving his anatomy/perspective/ is also something you can’t know. I’m well aware that many artists will futz with things they are weak on, particularly on deadline, and I jokingly call it Mike Mignola’s Footless Figures Syndrome. (I’m going to note that Mike Mignola’s tendancy to hide feet behind gravestones and fog and skulls and so on does not keep me from enjoying his highly stylised art.) But abstracting that into the artist being a faker is a bit uncouth. Stick with the foundational criticisms and leave the personalities out of it.

  36. Kekai,

    Had I taken the ‘in-progress’ into account, I wouldn’t have been so harsh/indignant in my reaction – but seen as ‘finalized’, it doesn’t put you in a good light, at least not with other artists, as you did ‘futz’ around some, here and there. And you’re right about not making this personal, the ‘cretin’ I take back, the ‘faker’ as well, in fact, John, please remove my above comments if you can, and my apologies to you both,

    regards, -g

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