Wednesday, January 18, 2006


I've been productive as hell this morning, work-wise, and I need a break. So, here, as part of my interlude, is a survey of the best and worst of.....FALCONRY BOOK COVERS!

So here's a typical one. Why do you buy a falconry book? The same reason you buy an aeroplane book. It has a BIG PICTURE of one on the cover. The more glamorous the falcon, the better the book. If you're a falconer-artist (so many are, so many are woeful) you can even get to do your OWN cover! huzzah!

It's kinda arty...get the white gyrfalcon on a white ptarmigan on a white background thing? Martha Stewart would do this kind of book cover, if she was into falconry. Which reminds me...according to a friend of mine (who knows, this might be a totally bogus tale) of the day Martha held a big summer celebration partay up in Maine. It may have been on a boat? Can't remember. What I do remember is that it involved a wicker basket of white doves. Ahhhh. At the summit of the celebrations, the doves are released, and everyone applauds. Before a wild peregrine falcon decides to catch one, smacks into a fleeing dove right over the partygoers, and drops it, dying and bleeding, right into the white-on-white colour scheme of the beautiful celebration dining table. Ooops. Martha was clearly impressed. She insisted on having a peregrine on her tv show afterwards, it seems. Look...can you see a 'we're both predators' glint in her happy eyes? (Only joking, Martha: you are a goddess).

Right. Back to the covers. Now this next one is perfect, I reckon, considering what it is. Air force blue, white gyrfalcon mascot, square jaw, stripes, white gloves, the awesome chapel in the background: god, falconry, the US military and a nice gold box round the photo. Peace is our profession, and all that.

The US Air Force has F-16 Fighting Falcons. American falconry has Hunting Falcons. This is what I call a classic bit of Frontier Spirit Falconry Book Design. No messing about. Hunting Falcons. Big no-mess-with-me font. Big picture of a mean falcon, holding something it's killed. Feathers on its beak, snowy mountains in the background. It's so damned aspirational. The aspiring falconer thinks: I want this falcon, I want to eat the duck, I want to live in the mountains, wear coonskin caps and drink shed-loads of whisky. And love it. I am no greenhorn at heart! Long live frontier Ameriky!

This is a far more subdued version, designed for the sensibility of the English falconer. No dead things. No mountains. You don't even get to see the falcon's ankles. Just her fine, aristocratic features. She's not even looking at you. You, the mere reader, are simply not worth her time. Of course, this is such a hook; the English would-be falconer has to buy the book, because, well, la belle dame sans merci is the model for English falconer's relationships with their birds.

And sort of in the same vein, ahem:

That was a cheap shot. She's a great falconer. And there's a long tradition of putting yourself on the cover, with a hawk. Look! the photo says. I know what I'm doing! See? I'm a falconer! Trust me!

And this is my favourite EVER example of this. My god, this cover just makes me laugh out loud whenever I even THINK of it. It is so bloody ridiculous in every single respect that I can hardly drag my eyes away:

I must stop for a bit. Ha ha ha. More later. This is fun...

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