Sep 13, 2010

UPDATED - Covering Covers: King's Justice - Maurice Broaddus

Cover Artist: Steve Stone

Update: I've redacted some of my comments but left them here because I feel selective editting destroys credibility. So you can still read my nonsense, if you so desire.

This is just another example of Angry Robot being Internet savvy and blogger friendly. They reached out to me to clear up some confusion about the situation in a very polite matter despite the light my poorly researched post portrayed them in. The model in question was always dark skinned and Angry Robot made sure that the author thought the cover was representative of book, going so far as to recommission a new cover when the first cover didn't live up to Broaddus's expectations. At no point was "whitewashing" suggested or pursued.

In my defense, I did think that they switched the model upon first glance and there was possible RaceFail afoot. However, that doesn't excuse my misrepresentation of the facts and the overly inflammatory nature of the original post. My apologies to Angry Robot and Mr. Broaddus.   

Now to be fair, I don't know if the character on the cover of King's Justice is the same as King Maker. He's got a similar sword/gun combo, but without having read King's Justice, I can't be sure. I'm assuming it is. But if it is, King looks somewhat lighter skinned than he did on the cover of King Maker. Maybe it's not King, maybe it's the angle, maybe it's the greenish tint to the cover, maybe it's just me, but I see a noticeable difference between the covers. And it's not just me, several other people I asked agreed.

Update: It is the same character, and in fact the same model. It appears that the greenish tint to the cover made me misinterpret things.

I don't want to be the blogger who cried whitewashing but this does appear to be a text book case in which a publisher portrays a darker skinned character with one of significantly lighter complexion on the cover.

Update: Damn it. I am the blogger who cried whitewashing... Textbook case of BlogFail on my part in which a blogger makes assumptions and makes an ass of himself. As an aside, contrary to popular vernacular, when you assume you just make make an ass out of yourself.

Some further investigation on Maurice's blog reveals an interesting post in which not only raises the topic of RaceFail, but cites the King's Justice cover as an example of RaceWin!

"This is the cover art for The Knights of Breton Court Book Two: King’s Justice by the incredible Steve Stone (the model’s name is Lloyd Nwagboso*)"

"Now would be the time when I would point out that not all publishers buy into the cycle of reinforcing racist ideas. I would point to Angry Robot’s cover for South African writer Lauren Beukes‘ second novel, Zoo City (art by John Picacio). Or my own novel from them, Knights of Breton Court: Kingmaker. Instead, I will point to the just released art for my second novel, Knights of Breton Court: King’s Justice one more time because it’s just so pretty:"

"We’ll soon find out whether or not black people on a cover will hurt sales. Nevertheless, having this conversation won’t hurt. Apparently it’s long overdue to happen."

"*Lloyd was actually the second model chosen. In an interesting parallel to the Bloomsbury debacle, Angry Robot asked me what I thought of the first model the artist was leaning towards. I said that I thought he was too light as I had imagined King as much darker. The folks at Angry Robot immediately, and I mean, IMMEDIATELY agreed and changed course. You can’t ask much more than that from your publishers."
So if I read that correctly (UPDATE - I read that pretty poorly indeed. ReadingComprehensionFail), Angry Robot suggested a lighter skinned model, Broaddus politely said he felt that it was not representative of the character and they found someone else that fit Broaddus's mind's eye.

Here is a normal photograph of Lloyd Nwagboso

So he is definitely not a Caucasian model, as was the case in many of the past RaceFails (Liar and Magic Under Glass). At the same time, I can't help but wonder if the image was edited during the graphic design phase to give the character a lighter complexion. It appears that Angry Robot definitely wanted to go with a lighter model from the beginning, and would have, if not for Broaddus's polite objection. Now if the author is fine with the cover, than there really shouldn't be any issue. But that still doesn't explain away my gut reaction upon seeing it for the first time. - "Holy Crap, they whitewashed the cover!"

King's Justice: The Knights of Breton Court: Book 2 will be out in February. We will see if it gets a new cover before then.

What do you think? Am I just seeing things?

Update: I am.


  1. High marks for owning up to an honest mistake with good intentions. We've all seen those sorts of shenanigans before, in some famous recent examples, and unfortunately I'm sure we will again.

    Nicely handled by Angry Robot who appear to have acted contrary to their moniker. The more I read about them the more I like them.

  2. Cheers for coming back and honestly correcting your misconceptions, Patrick. Not enough honesty and integrity like that in the world.


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