Gina Barreca, professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut, is known for quotes like, “It’s not a glass ceiling, doll—it’s a thick layer of men.” Her 1991 book, They Used to Call Me Snow White But I Drifted, became an instant best-seller in both the academic world and among general audiences. It’s about how women use humor, and what men think about funny women. And now? It’s been rereleased with a new cover by New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly. Here’s Gina to talk about the design:
“One of the great things about doing the new ‘classic’ version of They Used to Call Me Snow White But I Drifted was being able to draw on and refer to the women (and men) I’ve worked with in humor and comedy during the 22 years since the book was first published. When the brilliant New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly (whose own books on women and humor are huge contributions to the field) agreed to create a ‘seditious Snow White’ for the new cover, I was thrilled into girly cheers and hand-clapping. It was an amazing moment.
“The University Press of New England has one of the editors—Phyllis Deustch—with whom I worked on several books, including Snow White, and among the best art departments in the business. We began working on the cover right from the day we decided it was time to bring out a new, updated edition. Both they and I were open to everybody’s good suggestions.
“Because I’d asked Liza Donnelly to come up with Seditious Snow White—which she envisioned as a dynamic Snow White with her fist in the air, wearing yellow trousers as opposed to a long skirt and yet still wearing matching yellow low-heeled-boots, a red hair ribbon, and poufy sleeves—I couldn’t have been happier with the cover.
“Though I know very well that covers are considered a marketing decision by presses and not something the author gets to determine on her own, I asked for changes. I asked, for example, for a change in the cover font. And we decided to use the great reviews of the book on the back rather than include a photo of me. Hey, people can look me up on the internet if they want to—I’d rather have them read what the L.A. Times said about the book being hilarious than see that I have nice eyes.
“I like the cover even more than I imagined. Working with people I admire, from Liza Donnelly, who understood what our ‘Feminist Snow White’ should embody, to my editor and the folks in art and marketing at UPNE, who had to imagine how it would look in the catalogue, to my own friend and publicist Laura Rossi, who knew how to get the word out about the cover and what’s on the pages, resulted in a cover that has me thrilled.”