I was not entirely pleased when Harper Collins let me know they were not going to be using Andy Potts’ cover for Mars Evacuees in the US. I am very, very loyal to that cover, and I could not imagine anything matching its shiny orange perfection. Not to use something so lovely which is sitting right there seemed just perverse … and it meant I had to go through the terrifying peer-through-your-fingers-what-if-it’s-h
I was a little relieved when I heard that the artist was going to be Goro Fujita, who’s both an illustrator and an animator — working for Dreamworks among others. His pictures of forlorn, retro-looking robots in oddly contemporary settings and ability to mingle funny and scary convinced me that maybe it was going to be okay.
It is better than okay. It’s really, really good.
It’s interesting comparing the covers — they reveal things in each other that I wouldn’t otherwise have seen. Against the US cover, I can see a kind of moody grunginess (which I now think might be a very British aesthetic) in the UK cover that wasn’t obvious to me before. It’s in bright, cheerful colours and the B-movie swoop of the title font indicate fun, but the kids are facing us with shoulders squared with an air of subtle challengemix of rough, distressed textures focus more on the battering the kids take in the course of their adventure than on the jokes.
By contrast, the US cover stresses action and comedy. It looks like a Dreamworks film – (INCIDENTALLY HI DREAMWORKS I THINK THIS WOULD WORK VERY NICELY, CALL ME. ALSO HI PIXAR, HI EVERYONE ELSE, LIVE ACTION IS FINE TOO, HI.) While the kids on the British cover are posed almost like a band — facing us, just a slight air of challenge in their postures — here they’re facing away, in a scene full of motion. Carl on the left and Josephine on the right are poised to react to the spaceships — we don’t know how, but they’re doing something. Alice, in the middle, seems almost hypnotised by the scale of the interplanetary incident unfolding before her. They’re stylised and cartoony enough to look fun, but the colours here are that much darker and the kids are framed on all sides by danger.
So enough chat: here is the cover, and amazingly, I love it as much as the British one — so I have two gorgeous covers for one book. Alyson told me she wanted Alice, Josephine and Carl, AND Earth AND Mars AND tentacles AND spaceships on the cover, and I told her I thought that sounded really busy and probably impossible, but hey, she was right and I was wrong.
Technically, of course, Morror ships are invisible, (and this is an inherent trait that cannot be switched off), so the scene depicted here could not take place. But it captures the atmosphere of the book beautifully.
Mars Evacueesis out in the US on the 28th of January 2015. It’s out in the UK and the Commonwealth now!