I have seen many book covers in my life – and I have to say, the cover for Alien Sex, a short story compilation I’ve owned for years, is absolutely the worst. Ever. End of discussion. Look at this picture.
In my version, the first item to notice is the background color – a pus gray designed to make Dickens-era, orphan-grade gruel look appetizing.
Then, regarding the title, I guess the circle-dots separating the letters in SEX are breasts? A little juvenile – but fair enough. At least the font isn’t comic sans. If the designers had stopped there, we would have had an unremarkable cover, definitely not great but close enough to plain not to stir undue attention.
But they didn’t stop. They wanted to put that Photoshop correspondence course to good use.
They stuck a pair of mismatched stock images in opposing corners. There’s a set of lips, a pic of actual lips, stuck in the bottom-left corner. They are floating, a la Rocky Horror, above a pink rectangle, which is there for … color? A visual counterbalance? A postmodern statement of feminism and female roles in the 20th century?
Then there’s a clip-art eye in the top-right corner, with a dot orbiting the iris because, you know, the book’s about aliens, who come from space, where things circle other things.
At this point, it seems the designers are looking to fill space … and they could have continued. There is space still available in the top left and below the tagline for whatever random images could come out of their mind hole. But they stopped, they looked, and they thought, “Yep, that’s good.” So we are left with gaps, as random as the images themselves, leaving us to ponder what other horrors could have filled those voids.
It’s a nightmarish clip-art screensaver floating in orphan-grade gruel. I have seen many books, and many bad covers, but I have yet to see its equal.