Re-Covered Books: The Wonderful Wizard of OZ – The runners-up

I’ve had quite a few readers ask if I’d give some commentary on the Re-Covered Book: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz entries submissions which I thought were good, but didn’t end up winning. I thought it would be nice to give some pointers on what I really liked about these entries and some thoughts on what I think they could have done better. Think of it as an online crit.

Re-Covered Books: The Wonderful Wizard of OZ - The runners-up

This design was an early front runner to win the competition. When I first saw his design I was shocked that he was able to cut out all of these elements from money and put it all together into a cover. The amount of time and effort it must have taken is pretty mind-blowing. Visually, I think this is the most complex entry.

The reason why I didn’t choose this entry though is because the story isn’t about money. There are allusions to money in the story (that her silver slippers was about the price of silver and that when you watch The Dark Side of Oz the song Money starts playing when she opens the door to Oz) but that’s not what the book is about.

I also have some issues with the blurriness of some of the objects. For a piece so detailed the bottom part of the image feels like it was stretched a bit too much. There’s also a weird drop shadow on some elements and the light is coming from below, which is kind of visually odd when the rest of the elements are totally flat.

Re-Covered Books: The Wonderful Wizard of OZ - The runners-up

Next up is this entry from April Scarduzio, which in my mind is the version you’d see being sold at Anthropology. I love the image, I love the hand-written text, and the colors are beautiful. I think the image of the woman, face hidden from view, is a really nice touch. I think this allows the reader to insert herself into the book. My problem comes in because of the outfit and wrist accessories which are too contemporary and don’t fit the book at all.

Now, I’m guessing she didn’t take this photo, and she didn’t have some huge budget to work with either, so I don’t fault her. I think you’d need a real photographer to pull something like this off correctly, but I think April’s concept is super strong.

Re-Covered Books: The Wonderful Wizard of OZ - The runners-up

Lastly is this cover from design duo Ben Wallis & Mike McVicar. What I loved about their piece was the amazing image. The idea of her life being turned upside down is a fantastic visual metaphor. The image is powerful and epic looking, it shows you that crazy things happen in this book. I also think the colors in the image are spot on and are really pretty.

Where I think this cover design goes wrong is the typography. All of the emphasis is placed on the word “Wonderful” rather than the “Wizard of Oz.” If the emphasis had been switched, I think the cover would have been a lot more effective.

I hope the folks I’ve critiqued here don’t take offense to any of the things I’ve outlined. These are simply my opinions, and opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one. Hopefully some of you get some insight into the things I look for in a good piece of design and that this helps you some. I’ll try to continue doing these with each subsequent cover contest if you find them helpful or insightful.

15 Comments Re-Covered Books: The Wonderful Wizard of OZ – The runners-up

  1. F. Hernandez February 16, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Thank you Bobby! Much love! It’s good to be recognized and critiqued by you.

  2. Ben Wallis February 16, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Thanks Bobby! I’m honored just to be mentioned.

  3. Jessica February 16, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    I love this critique for two reasons; 1.) It brings up valid design points in an articulate way and 2.) Many times when I enter a contest and don’t win, I want to know why I didn’t, but few people take the time to explain so I can do it better next time. I know the real world isn’t design school, but learning new concepts as a designer should never stop. Thanks for taking the time.

  4. Tim Friedman February 16, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    I think the first one is incredible. I remember discussing the economic implications of The Wizard of Oz in high school. Read more on the monetary allegory here (
    That said, sharpening the bottom portion and utilizing a W rather than an upside down M (though I understand the W doesn’t appear on a bill in the same font), would make this perfect, in my opinion.

  5. April February 16, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    Super cool, thank you so much Bobby!

  6. F Hernandez February 16, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    @Tim Friedman — Thank you for your feedback, that’s exactly what I was going for, but It’s so obscure most people don’t know about it ( Frank L. Baum also denied that the book was about money, but the plays he himself directed during his time had many obvious references.

  7. Riley Hoonan February 16, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    Awesome post! It’s so good to see the runners up. I have to say, that last image blew me away – and personally, I love the juxtaposition of the word ‘wonderful’ with the dark background imagery, it adds to the intrigue and mystery of the novel. Thanks for showing these!

  8. Mikkel H-K February 16, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    Well done, Bobby! Adding critique to some of the runner-ups really makes these re-covered even more interresting. Thanks :)

  9. Chris February 17, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    Apparantly they made a film of this..

  10. christian February 17, 2012 at 5:36 AM

    Nice designs, they’re all really strong.
    Does anybody know the typeface that is used for “W O N D E R F U L ” in the design by Ben Wallis & Mike McVicar?
    Thankyou in advance.

  11. Alicia Farmer February 17, 2012 at 6:35 AM

    The critique is very interesting and helpful.

  12. Goodloe Byron February 17, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    How cool!

    it has been pointed out that the Wizard of Oz is largely an allegory for monetary policy at the turn of the century, in much the same way as Animal Farm. The Cowardly Lion is William Jennings Byran I believe I read, who played a central conservative role in the debates at the time. i think that’s what the first designers are referring to:

    Here is the first article on this from the sixties by Henry Littlefield

  13. Nate Pyper February 17, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Nice how the upside-down tornado in the bottom entry also looks like a witch hat…

  14. the7000club February 21, 2012 at 6:45 AM

    i agree with your critique of cover number three, but i’ve got to add that another thing which makes this cover memorable is that the horizon line sits askew of 0°, further emphasizing the calamity of the photograph and the sense of unease being conveyed.

  15. Linda March 18, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Wow, I really want to hold some of these covers in my hands. I really do think that book cover designing is one of the greatly under-appreciated arts in this world, pity it might be less valued what with the ebook and whatnot.

    I look forward to what comes next. (Although I’m secretly hoping it’s going to be Rhold Dahl’s The Witches. Hint, hint. XD)

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