The Hobbit: By the Cover

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article discussing the importance of a book’s cover. It was a lot of fun and I’d highly suggest you read it. That’s possibly one of my favorite posts of the year this far. Mainly because it gave me a fun idea.

Today, I’m going to analyze yet another book cover. I’m looking for the following things:

  • Plot hints: does the cover alude to anything within the story?
  • Style: does it look interesting?
  • Tone: does it capture the tone of the story?
  • Intrigue: does it make you want to read the actual book?

Now, with those things in mind, let’s look at the subject of today’s analysis: The Hobbit. Because I just can’t leave this book alone.

This version; I could look into the others, but this one is my favorite and one of them is an ad for the movies

Right off the bat, this gets a win in the style department. The illustration here is absolutely stunning! Just look at the clouds and the hills in the background! The little path leading up to Bag End! It’s just really pretty! If I could find a full print of this, I’d absolutely frame it and put it on my apartment wall!

It also does a whole lot with color to convey information to the audience. Notice how green everything is. Fuck, even Bilbo himself is dressed in green! But then there’s Gandalf, clad all in blue and white. The wizard stands out like an ocean-colored thumb, making it clear that he is an outsider to this place.

Even the size of the characters is a clever little addition! It makes the world around them seem massive, making them feel like a less important part of it. This does a lot to add to the sense of adventure that is so integral to this book’s story.

Not to mention how great the sense of intrigue is. Anyone who hasn’t read it and (somehow) isn’t familiar with this franchise would have a ton of questions. What is this cozy looking place? Who’s that blue wizard-looking guy? And who’s the small dude? What’s the wizard-looking dude want to do? What the fuck is a hobbit? So on and so forth.

Unfortunately, as for story hints, this cover doesn’t have much going for it. It’s essentially an image taken moments before disaster/legendary event (I love those Twitter accounts). It captures the moment right before Bilbo and Gandalf’s first meeting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything to hint at the dwarves, Smaug, or anything else in the adventure. It’s focused entirely on that one moment, where the adventure itself began.

It’s also isn’t that great at conveying the tone. I guess you could argue that it conveys a sense of light-hearted adventure, given the color pallet and the aforementioned scale of the Shire. But we both know that’s kind of a stretch.

All in all, this cover is pretty solid. It’s a pretty piece with some clear thought put behind it. Sure, it isn’t the greatest cover ever. But it’s still a wonderful example of what a good, enjoyable, memorable cover looks like.

Can’t wait for next time, when I get to tear into a bad cover. Maybe two. Bad covers don’t leave much room for discussion.


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