While Buffy the Vampire Slayer started out as a TV show (well technically a movie…), its story has been told more than the 144 episodes that the WB and UPN aired, as the characters and world live not only in our television sets, but in the printed word. The series has spawned over 100 YA & adult books, not including the comics, and non-fiction works. Today I’m going to be talking a little bit about these books and everyone’s favourite book feature, book covers!
The first Buffy books to hit the shelves were novelizations; these books were retellings of various episodes, such as The Harvest, and were often sold in character collections, such as The Angel Chronicles Volumes 1, 2, and 3. The novelizations were media-tie ins, offering little in the way of new information to the story, and I think they were used mainly to promote reading among reluctant readers – teens could connect their excitement over the TV show to reading. These types of books lost most of their popularity by 2001, although there was also a novelization of season 7 called Chosen published to coincide with the series finale in 2003.
Although virtually all of the Buffy books rely on images from the show and promo shots, the novelizations play around with the covers the least. There is a pretty standard design that most go by – the brown Buffy “frame”, paired with a promotional image that relates to the novelization’s topic. In 2001 they changed the brown “frame” to a bit more modern blue one, as seen in the cover for The Faith Trials. I hate to admit it, but I don’t really have any favourite covers out of the novelizations, as I find them rather quite boring. The good thing, however, is that when collected and shelved together there is consistently between the covers and you can tell they are all part of the same series!
Wicked Willow I: The Darkening, Queen of the Slayers, Out of the Madhouse, and Go Ask Malice.
The original novels are more creative than the novelizations, both with their plots and covers, and make up the majority of the Buffy books. I’ve read about 15 or so of these books, and I would have loved to see some of these plots translated into episodes! The most popular authors for the original novels are: Nancy Holder, Christopher Golden, and Diana G. Gallagher. These stories take place across all seasons, and usually have a "Historian’s Note” on the inside that places the story within a particular season. It really depends, but for the most part these books stick to the canon that Joss Whedon and the other writers of the show have established. Some of the original novels I have enjoyed are:
Some of the earlier original novels follow the same format as the novelizations (see Night of the Living Rerun), but thankfully throughout the years the publishers have moved away from the brown or blue Buffy “frame”. Unfortunately, some of the covers of the original novels look like poorly done fan art.
As time went on the covers became more sleek and colourful. Some of my favourite covers are included below. I won’t comment on each one, but overall, I find these covers creative, more attractive than their older counterparts, and in many instances, just plain fun!
There are also cross-over novels that bring together the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the hit spin-off show Angel in one book. These often have very attractive covers, and exciting plots. Below are two of my favourite covers - just look at how sexy they are!!
A more recent format that has been introduced in the Buffy YA fiction books is the Stake Your Destiny four book run collection released in 2005. These books follow the format of a choose-your-own adventure story. I’ve only read one, The Suicide King, I believe, and although I didn’t really enjoy the change in format, the covers for this small collection are quite interesting as they follow more of a comic or graphic novel approach. I think my favourite of the bunch is the cover for Keep Me in Mind - I really like the colouring of it, and the graphics are great.
Lastly, and I just discovered this while doing research for this post, there are some foreign Buffy book covers, both of the novelizations and original novels. I actually really like both the French and German covers - the French ones seem to have better graphics, and take up the whole cover, while I like the colourfulness of the German ones. Both have more consistency in their style than their English counterparts. I’ve chosen foreign covers of books whose English covers I’ve highlighted above to give you a comparison.
French Translation Covers
German Translation Covers
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this examination of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels and their covers! Maybe you’ve even found a new book to pick up or it has inspired you to revisit one you have already read. I’d like to thank The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Library for their (I believe) exhaustive list of Buffy and Angel books. It’s a great resource, you should check it out!
Have you ever read a Buffy the Vampire Slayer book? Which ones are your favourite? What are your thoughts on the covers?
I’d love to hear from you!
Previously on The Sunnydale Project (Sept. 5) …