Two Sides of Rampant Fan Art

I ran across a review of Rampant that pointed me in the direction of this (apparently quite popular) discussion of the cover. Seems some dude named Joel (Who, in his profile pics, looks to be a hipster about my age) has placed Rampant on his “books to never read ever” list on Goodreads. In his “review,” he takes umbrage at the fact that the cover of the book has a picture of a teen girl on it, instead of a giant killer unicorn.

Interesting point, some dude named Joel.

In fact, at one point in the long long LONG ensuing discussion, he says:

“then the cover should be a generic teen girl holding aloft the severed head of a giant killer unicorn. some of the blood should be dripping onto her, but she doesn’t care, because she is a warrior triumphant.”

And one of his buddies, Flannery, obliges him with some alternate cover art:

(I would like to make it known that this is a much better drawing than I could ever hope to do of a similar scene, in MS Paint or otherwise.)

Aside from the hair color, this is a pretty good illustration of the actual following scene in Rampant (Page 141, hardcover edition):

[Valerija] jumped back. “They said come here!” She reached into her duffel. “They see what I did to this.”

She held it aloft by its horn and we all gasped. The midnight dark skin, the brindled coat, the gaping maw, and most of all, the blood that oozed freely from the jagged edge where head had once met neck. A kirin’s head.

Valerija Raz lifted her chin. “They said here is where I belong.”

In fact, a few seconds earlier of that scene is actually illustrated here, by Emilia Argon:

This is Val arriving at the Cloisters, in full on goth gear with the unicorn head in the duffel bag at her feet.

Emilia actually pointed me in the direction on an entire cache of Rampant fanart on They are so awesome. Here’s her portrait of all the girls in the Cloisters (including Wen and Flayer!):

Seriously, how awesome is that? I love love love love love it. (I’m not sure why Ilesha is holding Flayer rather than Wen but Flayer is minding a lot less than I thought he might.) What I really love about it is how perfectly she captured the girls’ personalities. Look at val’s hair! Look at Rosamund’s cross. Look at how you can really see how much younger Ursula and Ilesha are than the other girls, and that Melissende (top left) and Ursula (bottom right) are sisters. Check out the expression on Phil’s face, the weariness on Astrid’s (nice call, btw, dressing her in those drab colors). These are not “generic teen girls.” (Sorry, Joel.)

Here’s another one of Astrid looking bored, by an artist named ShadowKissedAngel (a fan of Richelle Mead’s, I presume):

Love it. Love the braid! (This is the way Astrid most often wears her hair.)

I love the covers of my books. I think they are really beautiful. I adore the details of the sword on the cover of Rampant, and the reflection of the charging unicorn in the expression of determination on Astrid’s face. I love her sadness on the cover of Ascendant, and I covet her pretty, pretty hair. I don’t love the fact that there’s no unicorn on the cover, but there’s nothing I can do about that. Like I said, my stick figures aren’t even as good as Flannery’s. There are probably people out there, like Joel, who (though he admits himself that as a thirty-something dude, he’s hardly the target audience) aren’t picking the book up because it doesn’t have a killer unicorn on the cover, but there are probably a lot more people who picked it up because the covers — killer unicornified or not — are really pretty.

And whatever their initial motivation, the part that’s important to me is that they liked the text. They liked it enough to create their own art, like Emilia Argon and ShadowKisedAngel and the other folks on the DeviantArt Killer Unicorns Club Gallery. Art that shows the unicorns in all their killery glory:

Check out those gored sheep. So. Much. Love.

As a storyteller, I think that’s the best gift in the world.

Posted in unicorns, writing life, YA

8 Responses to Two Sides of Rampant Fan Art

  1. Tiff says:

    Awesome portrait of the hunters!

    My favorite from the gallery is actually SinbadChick’s rendition of a killer unicorn. I feel like that’s how an einhorn looks to me…and it really makes me feel like it’s a KILLER unicorn.

  2. alaska says:

    i do kind of love the MS paint job.

    dude named joel should design his own cover for the book and cover it himself. i used to do that with textbooks and books i wanted to protect, or paperbacks. (my mother yelled at me once when i was a little older than your bugaboo (does she have an official blog name yet??) for accidentally tearing a page in a Bambi Golden Book and ever since i have taken very good care of my books!)

    fan art is fun! i love seeing fan interact with texts. it’s part of the reason i understand why authors can’t read fanfic but i like the fact that it exists. taking the time to interact with a text that way! caring about the characters so much! man. talk about a book staying with you.

    congratulations for creating such loyalty and devotion with astrid. i still haven’t read “Ascendant” – because i don’t know when (or if!) the next book will be released, and i’m just not ready to have the end of those killer unicorns yet . . . i know, i preordered the book, i would have killed to have an ARC, and now i just look at it longingly and pet its spine.

    it’s a sickness, i tell you . . .

  3. Dude Named Joel says:

    Hello, I am the dude named Joel. I am a bit surprised that you came across my review (or that anyone commented on it in the first place since it was obviously done to amuse myself).

    I really do think the trend of photoshopped photos of teen girls on YA books makes for a lot of boring cover art though. Yours isn’t that bad but it isn’t that interesting to me, either. Speaking as someone who appreciates good graphic design and is not a YA-reading teenager of course.

    I hope you saw in my post that it shouldn’t really be on the “will never read” list because it actually sounds pretty good and I would likely read it. Except now I really will!

    Anyway, thanks for taking the “review” in the general spirit in which it was intended. Also I’m not quite 30 yet, don’t be agin’ me!

  4. Flannery says:

    Sorry, my MSPaint pictures always have the blond hair because they are me. I mean, if I’m going to take five minutes to draw someone chopping off a unicorn’s head, it is darn well going to be me:-) I can’t believe it actually comes close to an event in the book! Perhaps we are kindred spirits? I’ll add your book to my to-be-read shelf and find out…

  5. Emilia Argon says:

    Thanks for the feature!
    I’d like to get lots more peoples to join our group as well, so if anyones interested, I’m pretty sure its free acceptance!

    Just to clarify: Ilesha’s holding Flayer because when I plotted out the places of the people, Wen was not included, but I later cut out Neil, so I had space for her, but at that point I had already drawn in Ilesha( I work from the front back, which is not always good because as you see the ones in the back have no feet) And so Wen was in the back and I just couldn’t bring myself to hide his cuteness behind Cory’s hair.
    That probably makes no sense.
    Anyways join our Club!

  6. Erika says:

    Woah! I can’t believe that the Killer Unicorns club is getting so much attention! I happen to be a contributor, and I saw the journal update on Deviantart, and I just couldn’t believe it. What an honor.
    Guess this means I will have to draw Bucephalus in all his elephant-sized glory! 🙂
    *btw, my securit word was “Zhi” xD

  7. ShadowKissedAngel says:

    Woooo! I am indeed a fan of Richelle Mead’s. I have every book to the Vampire Academy series.

    Thank so much for putting my art up! I really really enjoy your books.

  8. Emilia Argon says:

    I believe something like this is in order.

    Because you were totally asking for it (:
    …and I was bored.