Posts tagged ‘Neil Gaiman’

The Chinese cover of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

On Sunday Neil Gaiman tweeted about the Chinese cover of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.

The Chinese cover of Neil Gaiman's THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. A black circle with the white silhouette of a boy's face dominates and moving in a diagonal line from the lower left to the upper right corner are swirls, touches of color, and ghosts. The extreme bottom left corner shows a black grave marker with a white cross.

The Chinese cover of Neil Gaiman's THE GRAVEYARD BOOK

I love the selective use of color and the texture. It’s interesting to see what got carried over from the American cover, most notably the silhouette of Bod (confession: it took me ages to see that in the headstone). Actually, check out all of the different covers at Gaiman’s official site. Some are more graveyardy, some are more Victorian, some are more fairy tale, some are more spooky. What a great variation. I especially like the Italian cover. Although the one from Poland is pretty great, too. Honestly, I think the American cover is sort of boring in comparison!

Anyway, back to China. In the summer of 2007, the Chinese government banned the depiction of skeletons in the MMORPG World of Warcraft. The Chinese company licensed to operate WoW in China complied, adding flesh to the undead characters and replacing the bodies of players with graves. Given this, I think the Chinese cover of THE GRAVEYARD BOOK is even more interesting. The ghosts shown are cartoonish, very different from the spooky figures on the Polish cover, and there is no knife like the one in this sketch Dave McKean did for the original cover selection process or even the Italian cover.

But what is curiously present is a cross on the grave marker in the lower left corner. While restrictions on religion have loosened since the 1980s and Christianity may be on the rise in China, religion in general is required to operate within strict boundaries. Both the Catholic church and the Protestant church in China are run by government-approved organizations and worship or Bible study outside of those approved churches is illegal. One of the girls from my residence hall in college spent a summer evangelizing in China and had to be very careful about what she included in her emails home. (Please note I am not supporting illegal proselytizing in China, just mentioning it as something that happens.)

While THE GRAVEYARD BOOK takes place in England, and in a Christian cemetery specifically, I was still surprised by the presence of a cross on the cover. Are you?

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March 4, 2010 at 9:41 PM 1 comment