Friday, March 13, 2009

Run, Buddy, Run

What are the odds that the very same image would be employed on not just two or three crime/thriller novels, but five--and counting? You’d think they were pretty low. But you would be wrong.

I first came across the picture in question--which shows a running man in an overcoat, seen from the rear--on the cover of Robert Ferrigno’s 2008 work of futuristic suspense, Sins of the Assassin, the sequel to his much-applauded Prayers for the Assassin (2006). While the Sins jacket lacked the distinctive artistic magnetism of its predecessor--both books published by Scribner--it at least communicated the notion of an individual in trouble, needing to flee for his life. Good, solid thriller material.

For the next year, I didn’t think anything more about that shot of a running man (credited in Sins to Kamil Vojnar/Workbook Stock/Jupiterimages). But then I started to see the same representation on one American novel after another. I again spotted the running man on the cover of Dead Men’s Dust, the opening installment of a new series by former British copper Matt Hilton, due out from William Morrow in May. (See the little dude high-tailing it toward a car?) Then he popped over to the front of Free Agent, a spy novel by Jeremy Duns, which is set to be released by Viking in June. This scurrying star appears once more on the forthcoming trade paperback edition of Michael Gruber’s 2005 novel, Valley of Bones. And finally, he’s there--in his smallest role yet--on the mass-market paperback thriller The God Machine, by J.G. Sandom, due out from Bantam at the end of April.

This little man really gets around, doesn’t he.

And isn’t it about time he was stopped in his tracks? I mean, come on, even if publishers insist on using stock photography from Jupiterimages or some other prominent supplier, rather than laying out a little hard-earned cash for original imagery, there are plenty of other photographs of scurrying individuals from which to choose. Must the same one be used over and over ... and over again? Was Jupiterimages holding a sale on this particular shot, or something?

UPDATE: It seems that when I originally composed this post, I missed noting the appearance of our winded little hustler on at least one additional book front. He also figures into the artwork (left) on the belated American edition of British author Sam Bourne’s second, 2007 thriller, The Last Testament, which is due out at the end of April from Harper. Isn’t that the same figure scampering through what I presume (given this story’s plot) is supposed to be some Middle Eastern passageway You can bet your bottom dollar it is.

7 comments:

patrick said...

Jeff,

Glad you found some of the images I sent you to be helpful.

Pat Lee

Dana King said...

Yet marketing geniuses who claim to know what sells a book will tell you how important it is for the cover to distinguish your book from others.

And they wonder why the publishing industry is in trouble. It's a tribute to the reading public there's a publishing industry at all, the way the "insiders" try to run it into the ground.

Private Investigators said...

Good marketing of a book decides which book is good and bad, so it is something which a writer cant control

jerseystylephotography said...

Looks like the industry needs some new noir photography....

Susan Wenger said...

That's hilarious. Understandable, though. It's not like these images get tagged with info about who's using them for what. Best they can do is take the little man and try to do something creative with him. There's a different feel to, say, Dead Men's Dust and Free Agent.

wstroby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wstroby said...

And the running man returneth: here and here.