Don’t Call Your Readers Stupid About a Cover’s Purpose

Dominatrix: Hellbent in Heels

A few months ago, I got an email from a creator. He had a book coming out in a month, and he wanted to start people talking about it, so he was providing preview images and an advance digital copy of the first issue. This is a very smart way to go about things, except…

The book he was working on, with Gene Simmons to boot, was titled Dominatrix: Hellbent in Heels and the first issue looked like this.

Dominatrix: Hellbent in Heels

Cover by Fernando Goni

I am the wrong audience for this, obviously. Given the size of the Boundless catalog section, there’s still a market out there for sex-focused exploitation covers, but I’m not it. What made me want to mention this was the paragraph in his note that read:

One message to pass on, though — Please don’t judge a book by its cover. There’s much more to these characters than a flashy costume or a woman dressed in a Dominatrix outfit. Read the back matter in the books and you’ll see. Better yet, read the books AND the back matter. Let us and the world know what you think.

That’s just dumb. Representing a book is the point of the cover! It serves as advertising, catching people’s eyes and hopefully getting them to lay down money. If the cover doesn’t reflect the insides, that’s a rotten way to start a new title. If you don’t want people to make certain conclusions about your work, don’t title it Dominatrix and don’t pick a cover where the only art is a woman dressed like it.

Writer Erik Hendrix here did a lot of stuff right. He clearly named the project and was believably effusive about his co-creators. But a book with that title and cover, tied to a pop cult celebrity, has a certain audience, and as the philosopher said, “It ain’t me, babe.”

(By the way, the back matter also reveals that, when invited to write for Simmons, the writer had to buy his own copies of the previous works with the characters.)

I actually did start reading the comic. Then I got to page 5, which reinforces the cover. This is one of those books about a “strong female character” where she’s drawn flashing cleavage every page. Yuck.

Dominatrix: Hellbent in Heels page

Art by Kewber Baal

With the latest Previews catalog, I noticed something interesting. The series, which was going to come out from Arcana Studios, is listed as Cancelled by Publisher. I guess the press drive didn’t work.

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