Readers have long been pondering the "headless woman" trend in historical fiction cover art. "I appreciate how publishers are attempting to accurately reflect the customs of the time by showing us women's fancy gowns and stuff," said one informed reader, who preferred to remain anonymous, "but what I really want to know is, where do all the extra heads go?"
As it happens, this issue has greatly concerned publishers as well. When asked, a representative from HarperCollins, who began the trend with their striking cover of Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl in 2001, admitted: "Honestly, it is a big problem. We never knew it would come to this... and now we have all these spare heads sitting in boxes around the office. Our graphic artists have no use for them. Not to be too graphic - sorry - but they're starting to go bad."
Fortunately, a coalition of publishers have banded together to solve the problem. "As environmentally conscious individuals, we believe in conservation whenever possible," said a spokesman for Carroll & Graf, publisher of Hunger's Brides, the mammoth novel about the 17th century Mexican nun, Sor Juana de la Cruz. Additional American publishers have responded to the call. Due to their diligence, the "disembodied head" look is set to become a brand new trend.
Plans are in motion, for example, to reuse Mary Boleyn's missing head from The Other Boleyn Girl on the jacket art of Before the Sword Strikes, a breakout work of fiction about her sister, Henry VIII's tragic second wife. This epic stream-of-consciousness novel promises to reveal Anne's innermost thoughts during her final moments. "Much has been written about Anne Boleyn's life, but hardly anyone about her death," said the publisher. "And we know that readers want to know all they possibly can about her."
Still, despite the cautious optimism in the publishing arena, some issues linger. "Recycling issues aside, I don't see that anyone will ever have use for the missing eyes and forehead from our cover of Jane Harris's The Observations," a representative from Viking said. "We preferred to use a completely intact head for our cover of Margaret George's Helen of Troy instead."
Any freelance artists or enterprising readers who might wish to use these spare body parts (or pieces thereof) for their own designs, or even for collages or scrapbooking, should contact the Coalition for Reusable Cover Art through the owner of this blog.