When is a cover for a novel called Redshirts too self-mocking?

The title of John Scalzi's secret project has finally been revealed — it's the intriguing Redshirts, a novel whose one-line synopsis says it all: "What happens when all the expendable ensigns on the exploring starship start comparing notes?" Knowing Scalzi, this book will be poignant as laugh-out-loud funny... but how do you create a cover that lives up to that title?

Above are three rejected cover designs for Redshirts — I love all of them, but as Tor Books' art director Irene Gallo blogs:

They are funny and I like them a lot but we did worry that it may cross the line between "laughing with" and "laughing at."


Instead, cover designer Peter Lutjen decided to go back to his original impulse: a straight-up picture of a red shirt. Here's the final cover:

What do you think? Would a fancier cover have grabbed your eye better, or is it better just to go literal with the red shirt? More details at the link. [Tor.com]

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