Headless Heroes

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed a shortage of heads lately? The first time it caught my attention was when our son got married a few years ago. Actually, that’s not accurate. Despite the fact that the wedding was on Halloween, the wedding party and all their guests had heads securely attached. It wasn’t until six weeks or so later when the wedding photos came back and there were several headless shots in the wedding album that I noticed this phenomena. Unfortunately, one of them ended up on the album cover. My son and his bride are both very attractive people, with perfectly good heads and faces and there was no reason to chop them off. It wasn’t just me who felt that way. We were all scratching our heads. In fairness, I have to say that most of the photos were beautiful and the photographer was extremely creative and talented. Only a few fell short. Even so, I think I would have asked for a discount.

This headless trend shows no signs of abating and nowhere is it more prevalent than on book covers. Once again, there’s no good reason for it. The heads aren’t missing due to decapitation by battle-axe or sword or an encounter with Madam Guillotine. As in the wedding photos, they’re just not there

I think the worst offenders are romance novels.  The next time you visit a book store, take a look. You’ll see shirtless, alpha-males wearing Scottish kilts, skin-tight trewes or jeans, or the occasional very large, strategically placed sword.  The attire may vary but there’s one thing these alpha-guys all have in common–bodies that rock and no head. The same applies to the heroines. They look great from the neck down, but from the neck up, who knows? It’s disconcerting. One thing I have figured out…  No heads on the cover usually means tons of sex inside. Maybe it’s a subtle way of rating the sexual content… Nah, I can’t even go there. Too many head jokes come to mind.

Am I putting too much thought into this? Probably, but I like what I like, and I like my heroes (and heroines) to have heads. I’m sure I’ll continue to gripe until the next trend comes along. In the meantime, I can’t help but wonder–what body part do you suppose they’ll lop off next?

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About Diana Douglas

Diana Douglas, author. Coorganizer of the Arizona Novel Writers Workshop. Member Arizona Historical Novel Society, Member BooksGoSocial Authors, Transplanted Texan. http://www.meetup.com/Arizona-Writers-Workshop-com http://twitter.com/#!/themodernscribe
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5 Responses to Headless Heroes

  1. Denise says:

    I’ve totally noticed this. And it bothered me until I realized why they do it. By giving the cover a face, they are deciding what the character looks like for the reader. Lots of people prefer to imagine what a character looks like on their own, OR to insert themselves into the role of hero/ine depending on who’s on the cover. For a love interest on the cover, if a reader doesn’t like the look of the model, it may influence them against the book. It’s like bad casting for a movie. And if the reader looks at the hero/ine on the cover and has a hard time identifying with him/her, again, they might not read the book. So they put a nice body on the cover, and let the reader imagine their idealized love interest or themselves in the starring roles. I guess sometimes I prefer that they don’t pick a model so that they don’t screw it up.

    The other trend that let’s them keep their heads, but still allows some of the imagination is having us only see their backside. For example, Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan books do both, headless and backside.

    I dunno, cause ‘sometimes’ the models get me to read books that I might not have read otherwise. Like Sherrilyn Kenyon’s The Dream Hunter. Holy crap that guy is hot. http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Hunter-Novel-Book/dp/0312938810/ref=sr_1_39?ie=UTF8&qid=1311833156&sr=8-39

  2. I suspected there was some kind of marketing strategy behind it. I think part of what bothers me is that it’s so prevalent. A little variety would be nice.
    I checked out The Dream Hunter cover. Whoa! To lop off that head would have been tragic.

  3. I don’t get it either. But then again, I don’t get modern art or modern music. Modern photography that hacks people to bits just isn’t my cup o’ joe. Give me a black-and-white photo circa 1950s any day. Is my age showing?

  4. Wendy Fehr says:

    I have to admit, I’ve never noticed this, but I’m certainly going to watch for it now. Actually, I’ve always been drawn to the covers consisting faces, especially eyes – I find them fascinating. Kinda makes me wonder though if I blew it on the cover of my book – it’s mostly a face.

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