Friday, November 6, 2015

Jaws Covered

Not to long ago, the missus and I embarked on that sublime adventure known as a Jaws movie marathon: a lazy weekend day and evening completely devoted to Jaws, Jaws 2, Jaws 3-D, Jaws: The Revenge and, as a bonus, Deep Blue Sea.

I know. And living with someone who enjoys doing things like this is just one aspect of the charmed life in which I live.

Of course, the pendulum swings both ways. Our most recent marathon involved Ladyhawke, Pride and Prejudice, and The Bridges of Madison County. So she does get her turn at the wheel. (We actually started with just Ladyhawke and Pride and Prejudice, but once the word "marathon" began being bandied about, we were forced to add one more, so as to meet our personal three-film minimum for the term. Two movies is just not a marathon.)

Anyway, other than realizing Jaws: The Revenge may not actually be worse than Jaws 3-D, what I took away from this marathon was a desire to compare the mechanical sharks used in each film in a blog post. But that's not what this post is going to be. Why?

Because, as usual, my mind took a simple idea for a quick post and went down a dark and winding rabbit hole with it, ending up in a dirt cavern where lived way to many ideas for way-too-complicated Jaws-themed posts, scores of downloaded images, bookmarked links, and so on. And I don't want to spend the next year doing nothing but Jaws posts.

So, while I figure out how to tone the whole project down to manageable proportions, I thought I'd start off with a collection of covers from the various editions of the Jaws novels (because, during the madness, I somehow ended up with about forty of 'em). So. Without further ado, and without a ton of commentary, here they are.

Oh. To set things up, there were three novels associated with the four films. Peter Benchley's novel, Jaws, came first and inspired Spielberg's amazing film. The other two novels, Jaws 2 and Jaws: The Revenge, were based on screenplays from their associated films, which came before the books. Jaws 3-D never had a novelization done of it. Too bad. Probably would have been better than the movie. I tried to find large images you can click through to see more detail, and was (mostly) successful. So click away.

Here we go. No wait. I have a site to mention. I trolled all over the web for images, but a fair number of what I'm using came from Since the fellow there went through the trouble of finding all these treasures in the first place, I thought I'd give him a shout-out.

Edit: I got tired of looking up information on all those overseas books. That's why publishing houses and dates kind of peter out towards the end. And, as far as getting the right publisher, date, or even language and country: I did the best I could. Most are pretty dependable, some are educated guesses, and a few were just me putting words from a cover into Google Translate and letting it tell me what I was looking at.

Besides, we're here to look at cool covers, right? If you want to be really certain on origins, do your own search and see what you come up with.

Now, here we go.

Jaws - U.S. Hardcover Initial Jacket - 1974
I know I said "without a ton of commentary," and I'm starting out with a bunch of commentary. But the stuff I uncovered around these intial covers was just too good to pass up.

So this was Doubleday's initial jacket design for the book. I like it, and I think it reflects the contents of the novel pretty well. The story actually focuses as much (or more) on Amity and it's people as it does the shark, and this cover tells me that. But. This cover was rejected shortly before the book went to press. Why? You will *never* guess.

The New York Times Magazine had this to say about it:
The sales managers loved the book and the title, but there was considerable resistance to the jacket. It made them think of Freud's classic dream of castration, the vagina dentata.
Really? Was vagina dentata maybe more a part of cultural consciousness back in the 70s than it is now? Because that is not a term that springs to mind for me at all, let alone when looking at this cover. But, okay.

Jaws - U.S. Hardcover Final Jacket - 1974
Here is the jacket Doubleday ultimately went with.

And it's a great cover. Hits you right in the gut, gives you both a claustrophobic and dangerously-wide-open-and-exposed feeling at the same time. Shivery. But as visceral as it is, I still think the original cover captures the feel of what's actually between the covers more than this one does. Just sayin'.

Doubleday's thoughts on this one? That same Times Magazine article quotes editor Thomas Gongdon:
"We realized that the new version looked like a penis with teeth, but was that bad? I placated [design director Alex Gotfryd] by buying him a $17 necktie at Paul Stuart."
Huh. I guess the fellas at Doubleday held to a double standard: penis dentata is okay; vagina dentata is not. Does that scream 1970s Male to anyone but me?

Jaws - U.S. Paperback - 1975
And here's the cover people always think of when you mention Jaws. Universal Studios eventually used it for the movie poster, which is why people always think of it, but it was actually created by illustrator Roger Kastel for the novel's paperback release.

And it's definitely another great cover. A very different feel than the Doubleday jacket, but just as powerful. As paperback covers are wont to do, it's going for lurid sense of (quickly) impending doom, versus the hardcover's more restrained approach. Looks damn cool though. And I definitely remember straining my eight year-old eyes at that nude swimmer, willing them to take in more detail than actually existed on paper.

Jaws - U.S. Paperback - 1991
Okay. Commentary is mostly over. There have been a lot of reprints of Jaws over the years, most of them very slight variations on Kastel's admittedly iconic cover. But I'll try to focus, as we go, on those that tried to do their own thing.

Like this one, from Fawcett Crest. Ferocious looking beast, even if it doesn't scream Jaws to me like the Doubleday and Bantam covers. Well, I guess it does scream Jaws, what with the word right there in big red letters and all. But you know what I mean.

Jaws - Australian Paperback - 1976
Now we'll get into some non-U.S. covers, which are often quite unique and pretty cool. Like this Australian paperback from Pan Books.

Jaws - French Canadian Paperback
Couldn't track down a publication date for this one, which'll probably be the case for a lot of these overseas editions.

But this is interesting if you're me: The site I found this cover on lists it as a French book. But when I googled "Les Éditions internationales Alain Stanké," I found out it was a publishing house created by Alain Stanké. He was born in Lithuania but migrated to Montreal, where he started several publishing companies among other things. So I'm assuming the book is actually French-Canadian. Anyway, he's an interesting fellow, a bit of a renaissance man. (Have to use Google Translate with that link, if you don't read French.)

Anyway, the cover looks (to my unpracticed eye) like maybe an original painting, but obviously following the Bantam cover pretty closely. Or maybe it's just pre-digital cut and paste. Kudos for doing something to differentiate from the U.S. version.

Jaws - French Hardcover - 1975
Here's an actual French (as in the country of France) hardcover, published by Hachette. The cover's a little weird. It puts the shark in a secondary role, visually, which is fine. But the girl looks really young. Is she supposed to be the swimmer from the book's first attack? Be curious to know the why's behind this one.

Jaws - French Paperback -1974
Another French cover with a non-swimming woman up front and the shark in the background. Also published by Hachette.

Jaws - French Paperback - 1976
And yet another French cover, from Le Livre de Poche, which was also an imprint of Hachette. No short shrifting the shark here, but all they've really done is flip the Bantam image around. I guess, points for doing something.

Jaws - French Paperback - 1976
Another French cover by Hachette. This was an edited version of the novel marketed to teens. Wonder what bits they left out?

Jaws - Italian Hardcover - 1974
Hmm. A hardcover from Italy, published by Mondadori.

Seems to me that overseas folks were less afraid of going fanciful with a cover than folks in the U.S. Which is good, otherwise this post would be forty book covers, all with Roger Kastel's artwork on them. And that would be dull.

Jaws - Portuguese Hardcover - 2015
Yikes! Now that's an attention grabbing cover. It's from Portuguese publisher, Darkside. And new. Just out last August.

Jaws - Portuguese Paperback
Interesting. Another Portuguese edition. This one is much older--but obviously not older than 1978, because it's using Jaws 2 cover art. ( ! ) I think it was put out by a publisher called Editora Nova Cultural.

Jaws - Soviet/Russian
Found this, and the one below, on a sociologist's Twitter page. Since it's Twitter, there wasn't much information, but I've heroically passed on what I know. This one is... kind of cool in it's peculiarity.

Jaws - Soviet/Russian
This one is also peculiar, but also kind of amazing. I like it's tongue-in-cheekiness. Reminds me of Land Shark. ("Plumber, ma'am.")

Jaws - Russian
Here's a scarier Russian cover that's really just a closeup of... Roger Kastel's shark. But they did cool things with it, like making the shark be above water vs. under the surface. I like the duo-tone, too.

Jaws - Spanish Comic Book - 1975
Okay. Technically this isn't the cover of a novel, but it was so awesome I had to include it. And it's awesomeness requires no explanation other than itself, so here are it's opening pages:

Brutal. So, the cover says it's an erotic comic. But these pages didn't seem particularly sexualized to me. After all, the novel's swimmer was nude as well. So I did a little searching to see if the word "erotic" was just a gag to boost sales, or what. And...

I didn't find anything more on this particular comic, but I did find out it was part of a series, with each comic doing it's take on a popular movie of the time. As to whether or not the series was actually meant to be erotic, that question was answered when I came across it's version of King Kong.

Way more than I wanted to see of Fay Wray. (Only partially true.)
Oh my. And if you really want to see two women undress, kiss each other, then be grabbed and eaten by a giant gorilla, click here.

Jaws - Spanish Hardcover - 1974
Another Spanish cover, from El Círculo de Lectores. I like it. Simple, understated, gets the point across.

Jaws - Argentinian Hardcover - 1976
But I like this one even more, because it adds the town, up top. Let's you know it's not just a shark we're dealing with here, it's a shark mixed up with a town. And towns have people. Crunch!

Jaws - Swedish Hardcover - 1975
Ooh, I really like this one. Being under water with the shark and looking up from his perspective is cool. Great color scheme, too.

Jaws - Swedish Hardcover
Same language, and looks like the same artist, even. But I don't like this one quite as much. Still has that cool color palette, though.

Jaws - Turkish paperback - 1975
Here's a Turkish paperback. What I found on this one said it was published in 1975, but it's a dead ringer for the design on that 1991 U.S. paperback, way up at the top:

Could be coincidence. Or maybe the U.S. version just got its inspiration from the much older Turkish edition. We will never know. Probably.

Jaws - UK Hardcover
Oh, now this is cool. A UK cover that features Quint's death in the novel--very different than his film death. Weird way-to-big-headed-shark, but big points for originality, here. (Welcome to "Dead Man's Brain," the blog where everything's made up and the points don't matter.")

Jaws - UK Hardcover
Okay. Many kudos to the UK folk. This is another extremely cool cover. And a wraparound to boot!

Jaws - UK Paperback
A UK paperback. Maybe that almost identical Australian one was a UK import of this one....

Jaws - UK Paperback
I like this, too. Somebody's doing their own take on the original U.S. covers, kind of combining the hardcover and paperback designs.

Jaws - UK Youth Paperback
And, our last actual Jaws cover. The rest are from Jaws 2 and Jaws: The Revenge. This was another edited version, aimed at teens or tweens.

Jaws 2 - U.S. Hardcover - 1978
So. Jaws 2, the novel, was written by Hank Searls, from a very early screenplay that changed quite a bit before shooting on the film actually started. So it's almost like reading a novel that isn't taken from a film. Which is a good thing, because often film novelizations suck. This book didn't, and I think I may actually like it better than the movie.

It came out a few months before the film opened, in hardcover and paperback, and you could get the paperback with or without the water skier on it.  I don't know why they decided to do that, but thank god for Berserker Books and their exquisitely thorough and entertaining look at Lou Feck, the fellow who painted this cover, for giving me an explanation for the variant. I was going nuts trying to find any information on it at all, and their post saved me from nut-ness.
Bantam published Hank Searls' novelization of Jaws 2 in the Spring of 1978, just a few months shy of the film's debut in theaters. Readers had a choice between two variant Feck covers, one with a skier and one without. You can see where the art department's removal of the skier left behind a blurry, less detailed water splash in her stead. For subsequent printings though, Bantam wised up and used only the unexpurgated cover. Sex always wins out in the end, as we all know.

If Feck made any impression outside of publishing it's because of his association with Jaws 2. The cover art he created for the novelization was in turn used for the film poster (a rare double commission, if you will). Feck's painting, which is a direct salute to the original Roger Kastel paperback cover of Peter Benchley's novel Jaws, is now part of our nation's entertainment legacy.
Not a ton of variation out there for Jaws 2 or Jaws: The Revenge covers, but I pulled together a few of the more interesting ones. Other than the hardcover above...

Jaws 2 - U.S. Paperback - 1978
Here's the paperback cover, as Feck originally painted it....

Jaws 2 - U.S. Paperback - 1978
And here's the cover, sans skier. I prefer the one with the skier, but my guess from what Berserker Books said is the non-skier cover is a bit harder to find, only being included with the first release and all.

Jaws 2 - French Paperback - 1978
Here's a French paperback, with skier...

Jaws 2 - French Paperback - 1978
...and another without the skier.

Jaws 2 - Spanish Paperback - 1978
Here's a Spanish paperback, for Jaws 2, that's using the shark from the the U.S. paperback edition of Jaws.

Jaws 2 - Italian Paperback - 1978
Aha! Here's something a little different. This Italian cover is taken from an alternate movie poster design. That water.. it's so red! Is it just the reflection of the setting sun, or... is it... an ocean running red with blood?!

Jaws 2 - Thai Paperback - 1978
And this one is cool just because it's Thai.

Jaws: The Revenge - U.S. Hardcover - 1987
Jaws: The Revenge was also written by Hank Searls, which is nice for continuity. It also came out a bit before the movie itself, and was based on an early, arguably better, screenplay than the one that ultimately made it to the screen. At least it explained more as to why the hell a shark would target a specific family and chase them around the world. That counts for something, right there.

Not much in the way of variety with this one. Everything I found had the shark from Kastel's cover, but breaking the surface instead of being underwater. We had this hardcover...

Jaws: The Revenge - U.S. Paperback - 1987
...and this paperback.

Jaws: The Revenge -  Spanish Paperback - 1987
A Spanish one, mixing things up a tiny bit.

Jaws: The Revenge -  Spanish Paperback - 1987
And more of the same, in brighter colors.

Jaws: The Revenge -  UK Paperback - 1987
And, finally, the UK paperback, which just swapped red lettering for gold and called it good.

And that's it, really.

And, in case you were wondering, I've read Jaws and Jaws 2 in the (distant) past, but recently re-read 'em so as to bone up for all these shark-related posts rattling around in my head (which may or may not ever see the light of day).

I also, more recently, bought Jaws: The Revenge. I haven't read it yet, but if the Jaws 2 experience holds true, my guess is I'm gonna like it better than the movie it's taken from. We'll see, and then I'll be back for more Jaws posts in general.

Until then.


  1. I enjoyed very much reading this page and all the information. But I just want to correct one mistake.
    This cover page of the Swedish paperback -1975 it is not Swedish, the correct one is Turkish cover. I have had the same book in my collection for over 30 years.

  2. Thanks, conn. The site I pulled that image from lists it as Swedish, but I'd noticed mistakes on a few other items there, so I'm glad you caught this and let me know. Much appreciated. :-)

    And glad you enjoyed reading the page.


  3. Oh, and I corrected the information, too.

  4. Hmm. I got an emailed notice saying "someone left a new comment on your Jaws Covered post," but for whatever reason it's not showing up here on the site itself. Dunno why that is, but the comment was made by Juan Carlos-Spain, and he pointed out that all my Jaws: The Revenge covers had Jaws 2 dates in their captions. (That's what I get for copying and pasting, but can you blame me with so many covers to get through?) Anyway, thanks Juan. I've updated those covers with the right dates.

  5. Gorgeous post! As a morbid lover of all things Jaws I am impressed and fascinated beyond my ability to express myself. Thank you. Thank you.

  6. Joseph: You're welcome! You're welcome! :-)

    You might enjoy clicking the sh-sh-shark! tag for more killer fish stuff.

    Sadly, Jaws has never been matched on the page or movie screen, but there are plenty of cheap knockoffs to go around, a few of which I've gotten around to reviewing. (With more on the way, eventually.)

  7. Thank you, I will do that. I enjoy many of the Jaws knockoffs. In fact, I'm always looking for new or rare ones I've never seen.

  8. This was a great post. Since I was little in the 70's the original Jaws book cover has always intrigued me. And the Jaws 2 cover was just as entertaining. I was disappointed to see that the girl in the film was wearing a one piece swimsuit. LOL
    But only a few years ago I discovered the Spanish shark comic cover I was completely in awe. I tried everything to find a copy of the comic with no luck. Seeing your post here is actually the first time I've seen the inside content from the comic. I truly appreciate that. Thanks so much for such great and entertaining information. :-)

  9. Hey, Tiger Shark. Yeah, I'm not particularly into erotic comics at this point, but that Tiburon is worth having just for the cover. I poked around on the internet for a bit and found a site (in Spanish) that looks like it's sold a copy or two of the book, one recently (December 2017). So maybe that's one to keep an eye on if you really want a copy. Site is Cheers!

  10. WOW, Dan!! Thanks So Much!!
    I will check it out!!
    All The Best!

  11. Dan,

    I just wanted to let you know that I was able to find a good copy for sale immediately and purchased it.
    Thank you so very much!!


  12. Wow, Rob, that was quick! I'm the tiniest bit jealous. ;-) In my searching around, I found a list of all the comics in that series, and there were fewer in the list I'd care to own than I'd assumed there would be--King Kong, of course, and Jaws, and there was one for Tentacles. Those would all be cool to own just for their "weird" factor. Hmmm... maybe I'm talking myself into something here....

  13. Dan,

    So DO IT!! :-D
    I Definitely Have The Itch To Get The Tentacles One Myself!! ;-)
    Doooo iiiiT!! LOL