Egregious Science Fiction Cover Art: The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch (1975), Michael G. Coney

I nominate the cover of Michael G. Coney’s The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch (1975) as the worst I’ve ever seen.  I’ve submitted it to Good Show Sir so hopefully it gets posted on that hilarious website soon.  Kelly Freas is considered one of the best sci-fi artists of all time — but this, is there an explanation for this pathetic/sexist piece of ___?

Perhaps if I knew what the book is about (the internet doesn’t give me any clues) — I might procure a copy solely based on uncovering the secrets of that cover.

Perhaps a bleach-blonde woman does walk around in The Jaws That Bite… be-speckled with strategically placed stars, a metal claw hand, a LEGGED shark pet (?) with a gill-chain (leash?), and huge soft-fuzzy eyes…

And the novel’s title — terrible…. (yes yes I know, it’s a quote from the Jabberwocky)

The French cover of the novel isn’t much better.  Shark tearing asunder a woman’s spray painted middrift (I guess?).

I dare you to show me a worse cover!  And no, no stealing from the wonderful collection at Good Show Sir!  I have quite a stash that I’ll reveal slowly…

Oh, and if anyone knows what the book is about, please let me know.

15 thoughts on “Egregious Science Fiction Cover Art: The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch (1975), Michael G. Coney

  1. Well, when you are hired to make art for a book, the image should have something to do with the contents. I’d say it’s probably a pretty good guess that sex is somehow part of the plot, if both artists emphasized it.

    While I DO like Good Show Sir!, I must admit the site can be a bit snarky sometimes: 1. It’s not as easy as you might think to make an artwork that sells AND is a masterpiece. 2. Part of the charm of cover art, especially sci-fi/fantasy, is that it isn’t always the stuff of “higher tastes.” Much of the appeal is that it could be considered what is now called “Low Brow.”

    • “Should” — doesn’t always happen — for example, many Lancer sci-fi books almost always have stock spaceship images which have nothing to do with the contents.

      Oh definitely, however, I looked through thousands of DAW paperback covers (60s/70s) and this was by far the worst of the bunch — so, the majority was less sexist and substantially less silly.

  2. DAW went in for sensationalist covers with more-or-less unclad young women in the mid-seventies. There are more extreme examples than this; go Google an image of Jo Clayton’s “Irsud.”

    Do you recognize the source for the title? If you did, you might appreciate it more (and understand that the creature on the cover isn’t “a LEGGED shark”).

  3. Hahahaha, what the heck was the artist thinking? Or the publisher for that matter? I mean, do weirdly-rendered walking sharks and women really sell well to the general public, or was a specific demographic being targeted?

  4. I guess I’ll find out when I actually procure the book if it’s following the subject matter or not — perhaps it’s an illustration from an exact description (hehe)– but if that’s supposed to be a Jabberwocky then that’s one unimaginative silly looking creature…

    As Gregory pointed out above, DAW books had an increasing number of sensationalist covers in the 70s to raise sales.

  5. Although not Coney’s best (he wrote many fine books), this book is actually quite good. The cover elements are all actually pulled from the novel, but the book is certainly not as “sexy” as the overall look of the thing implies (the ending turns that whole sexist/sexy angle on its idiomatic head in a fairly amusing, if not ironic, fashion). The original title was: The Girl with a Symphony in her Fingers, and I vaguely recall reading somewhere that Coney was quite unhappy w/this cover. I’d say it’s a recommended read. Coney is painfully underrated.

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