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Book Cover Smackdown! ‘I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream’ Edition

For this Book Cover Smackdown, we’re turning our attention to Harlan Ellison’s classic collection I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. Your Mission (should you choose to accept it): Tell us which cover you like best and why.

Editions shown here:

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John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

11 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! ‘I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream’ Edition

  1. None of them really scream to me (er, apologies for the pun?). 2009 is sexiest but doesn’t mean anything to me. 1983 is too…1983?  The art for 1967 is interesting but it loses in terms of design, for me.

    I think I’d prefer to have the latest on my shelf, design-wise, but can’t say if I’d regret that years down the road. :heh:

  2. Maybe it’s because I used to own a copy, but the 1983 cover is still my favorite.  It’s a product of its time, yes, but it hits all of my nostalgia buttons.

  3. Peter Damien // February 15, 2010 at 3:28 pm //

    I’m with Derek, for all the same reasons. I own that copy, and that cover image is used quite often for Ellison things (it’s on his web-site, among other places). Like the great image that’s on the cover of “The Essential Ellison,” it’s an image I instantly associate with Ellison.

    I noticed the ebook cover a few days ago, actually, and had been puzzling over it, trying to figure out if I could defocus my eyes and have a face appear in it. No luck for me.  I think that one’s a uniform edition cover, in that I think I saw some of his OTHER books with that cover as well. 

    So. 1983.

  4. I’m leaning 1983, but 1967 is good too.

  5. The ’67 is very, very of its time (trippy). Then again, so’s the ’83, but it doesn’t stick out like so much of a sore thumb (I guess design these days is still closer to that than the other one).

    The ’09 looks pretty generic though…

  6. i own two of the copies. The pyramid cover is my winner, and it’s the rawest of the covers, and that captures the spirit of the stories for me. Barclay Shaw 80’s cover seems too much like a new wave song inspired album art in retrospect.

  7. Strictly the 1983 cover for me; I’ve always felt that the cover was a good representation of the story’s theme.  The other two covers don’t do anything for me.


  8. I prefer the Dillon’s art on the 1967 cover; it has a nice Weird Tales flavor.  However, the type is way too crowded and ruins the cover’s overall design.  So, as a whole, I would have to say that the 1983 cover works best.

  9. I’m pretty sure that #3 is by the Dillons as well, and it appears to be an illustration for “Repent, Harlequin…”

    Though I am sentimental about both editions #1 and #2, I have to go with #1. To me it’s the most “authentic.” Yeah, the type is crowded, but Harlan’s work is crowded, and the characters in the story are trapped, etc. #1 is at once the most “fantastic” yet “serious.”

  10. All three are excellent, but I lean toward Barclay Shaw’s clever mix of circuit board, integrated circuit, pixelation (on the right of the face) and that skeleton-like bit of circuit board print that has a skeletal hand look to it as if covering up the area where a mouth should be. Added to this is a sad lifting of the eyebrow for added emotional impact. I think all these subtle elements are brought together way for a powerful picture.

    –Duncan Long


    Freelance book cover illustrator for HarperCollins, PS Publishing, Pocket Books, Solomon Press, Asimov’s Science Fiction, and other publishers. See my cover illustrations at:



  11. John Spencer // August 14, 2010 at 11:17 pm //

    I am trying to find a photo of a teddy bear (with no mouth) which was used at the beginning of  one of Harlan Ellisons stories entitled ” I have no Mouth and I must scream”. I stumbled across it once and lost the trail of it . Anyone with any clues ?

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