8-bit Two Towers banner

Take a photograph of your girlfriend or boyfriend, wife or husband or lover. Now, pixelate it — run it through an image processor on a computer. They dissolve into art when pixelized, don’t they? Into squares and abstract images of themselves. What does it all mean? Who can even answer these questions?

Below are ten all-new covers for famous novels, all rendered in pixelated form (building off the great work of artists at Make Pixel Art), as the makers of video games in 1983 might have rendered them. This combines my love of literature with my love of old video games, which I’ve explored here before. Enjoy.

“…I am always in love.”



“…He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life.”

Young man by Anonymous at Make Pixel Art



“…Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?”

Wizard by Radpants at Make Pixel Art; Towers by Mildtoast at Make Pixel Art


“…Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.”


“…All my beautiful lovely safe world blew itself up here with a great gust of high explosive love.”

Man by Anonymous on Make Pixel Art


“…Love, romance, wealth, poverty, death.”

Family portrait by Nick King at Make Pixel Art


“…He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt, and his only mission each time he went up was to come down alive.”

Plane and buildings from 50 Mission Crush, 1984 video game


“…There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seems to speak of some hidden soul beneath.”

Whale by Damien at Make Pixel Art



“…Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.”

Frankenstein by Bware2 at Make Pixel Art


“…Fallen sparks. Fragments of vessels broken at the Creation. And someday, somehow, before the end, a gathering back to home.”


Artist’s note: I selected the novels above, not as a list of the Greatest Novels of All Time, or as a list of My Favorite Novels of All Time, but because they were (mostly) books that I love whose covers I knew how to illustrate. Full confession: I have not read An American Tragedy, and I think that Theodore Dreiser is a boring writer. I just liked the title. And I started reading Moby-Dick (“Call me Ishmael”) and Gravity’s Rainbow (“A screaming comes across the sky”) but I did not finish reading them. Someday I will finish reading them. I read all the others.

Once, I had a job working for a publishing house where my job was to edit classic novels, because classic novels fall into “public domain” and are free to publish. The novel I got to edit was Moby-Dick and my job was to re-write it and make it “reader friendly.” It was not a good job. I quit after three days. Confronted with Melville’s wall of brilliant text, my heart and my nerve gave out. What should I do with the first sentence, even? “Hi. My name is Ishmael”? So I gave up. Great books should not be fucked with; though I’ve fucked with them here. But fucked with them in a tender way. And somehow, I feel like F. Scott Fitzgerald would grin ruefully upon seeing Tender Is the Night in 8-bit form. But maybe that’s just me.

Previously: 8-bit illustrations of 8 famous short stories

  • benbrown

    Hey! I recognize most if not all of these pixel art drawings as things drawn by users of Make Pixel Art. You should really credit the original artists, or at least source the images.

    • Nick

      Thanks for pointing this out. I’m checking with the artist — to my knowledge, he illustrated these from scratch.

    • Nick

      OK, I talked to Oliver. He used elements from other artists on Make Pixel Art, unbeknownst to me, and he misunderstood the terms of the art library. We’re immediately adding linked, named credit to all the artists whose work he built from. We’re extremely sorry for this, and we definitely want everyone to get credit for their work.

    • Nick

      Credit has been added for all the images, thank you so much for pointing out that it was missing!

      • Ben Brown

        Much appreciated, Nick!

Copyright © 2015 My Damn Channel, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Designed in collaboration with Wondersauce.