Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Imagine you’re back in the 90s, it shouldn’t be hard to do considering 90s nostalgia is incredibly prevalent in the year of our lord 2020. There are TV shows set in that era, 90s fashion is making a comeback and we’re all doing out own highlights because of, you know, worldwide pandemic. We might as well look back at 90s art and talk about that book series that blew our minds with their cover art. That’s right, we’re talking Animorphs.
It was a different time back then. We didn’t have CGI just yet but art was definitely expanding its horizons and the idea of morphing was emerging. So when we saw Animorph covers with images of kids morphing into animals – it blew our minds. Not only because it seemed super cool, but also because we’ve never seen anything like that before.
In modern-day it looks exceptionally 90s and so weird it’s almost embarrassing, but back then it was the most impressive thing we’ve ever seen. Which is probably why Animorph series still have a cult-like following to this day.
Do you remember the whole idea of the series? It was all about these kids who were granted the power of turning into any animal they touched in order to fight the aliens and protect Earth. A pretty wacky idea, right? But there were like 60 books plus spinoffs. And the artist who did most of the covers definitely deserves recognition. I mean, he’s basically responsible for blowing our mind with those covers.
But here’s a fun fact: prior to getting the gig of doing Animorphs, the artist, David Mattingly, has never even tried morphing, but the idea sounded so interesting and cool and the opportunity was too good to pass up so he just went for it and the publishers were so happy with the result that they stopped working with the person who did the first few and hired David to do the rest of them.
Interestingly enough he didn’t read the books before making covers art, he only read them after. David also never actually met the author of the books or spoke to them. He did, however, receive gifts from them every year for Christmas, it was really sweet.
The reason for not meeting the author was actually because the publishers rarely want the author and the person doing the cover work to meet because then the artist might get influenced by the author who obviously has an idea of what their book cover should look like. But that idea is generally not quite what the publisher wants, so they hire an artist to do their own thing and also they want the covers that would sell better.
The world of publishing is really weird that way. On one hand, it’s a collaborative process, but technically those collaborations often happen without actual interaction between the participants. But who knows what Animorphs would look like if the process was different, you know?
Did these pictures bring back any nostalgic feelings for you? Which of the books was your favourite? Were you a fan of the book series or were you one of those weird kids who actually liked the Disney show that was bizarre and even lamer than the books look now? Or did you magically skip this phenomenon somehow and this is news to do?
Either way, Animorphs are a huge part of the 90s era and this artwork, no matter how bizarre and funny it looks today, basically brought sci-fi art onto a whole new level.