Surprise and delight. Two things we should be doing to our readers every day.

And what better way to do that then with spectacular visuals on the front of their Sunday newspaper?

Here are seven great examples of this today. And one that, apparently, didn’t go quite so well…

DES MOINES REGISTER

Des Moines, Iowa

Circulation: 101,915

The big story in Iowa this weekend is the election. The latest Iowa Poll gives President Barack Obama a four-point lead over Republican Mitt Romney, but that poll has an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 points.

Illustrator Mark Marturello illustrated the story today with an arm-wrestling metaphor. Click for a larger view.

Here’s what the entire page looked like today.

Mark also had a great illustration on the front of Thursday’s paper. Find that at the top of this post.

KANSAS CITY STAR

Kansas City, Mo.

Circulation: 200,365

Today’s Kansas City Star didn’t bring readers new poll numbers but it did examine the differences in how the two parties are approaching health care and Medicare reform.

The illustration is by Hector Casanova. Here’s a look at just the top of it.

CLARION-LEDGER

Jackson, Miss.

Circulation: 57,710

In Mississippi, the big story today is the 50th anniversary of the racial integration of the University of Mississippi and the deadly riot that began on this very date, half-a-century ago.

This very simple — but effective — illustration was created by Bill Campling of the Gannett Design Studio in Nashville.

Bonus points: A nice little cameo picture of the first black student at Ole Miss, James Meredith.

Find the story itself here.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC

Phoenix, Ariz.

Circulation: 321,600

Today’s Arizona Republic blew out on the front today a huge, blockbuster investigative piece on a local sheriff’s office that failed to follow up on more than 400 cases of sexual assault.

There are only so many ways you can illustrate a story like that in a way that keeps the focus on the story and not on the illustration itself. Here’s the approach taken today by the folks in the Gannett Design Studio in Phoenix.

Unfortunately, the illustration — which appears to be made of letterforms cut out of paper or cardboard — wasn’t credited.

UPDATE – 3:05 p.m.

The page was designed by Amy King of the Phoenix studio, I’m told.

Find the story — and all the sidebars — here.

VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Norfolk, Va.

Circulation: 142,476

Here in Hampton Roads today, the story was bicycles vs. vehicle accidents. Who has been at fault for these accidents?

Drivers, it turns out, were ticketed 58 percent of the time. The Pilot told the story today with clever pie chart.

The designer — staffer Bethany Bickley — tells us:

I think it really may be one of the biggest pie charts I’ve seen.

PRESS & SUN-BULLETIN

Binghamton, N.Y.

Circulation: 34,411

While the Pilot with with a huge pie chart today, the paper in Binghamton, N.Y., went with an equally large venn diagram.

CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Circulation: 75,336

After I offered a little constructive criticism to the folks at the Chattanooga paper regarding their heavily-formattted skybox promos, the Times Free Press came back on Friday with a skybox that I praised here in the blog.

Now, two days, later, they did it again. Instead of a skybox, the Times Free Press pushed its lead art today up into the nameplate.

And beautifully so. The interaction with the nameplate is a nice bonus.

The picture — as is the smaller one downpage of the Tennessee coach — is by staffer Patrick Smith. Go here to find a gallery of his work at yesterday’s game.

RECORD-COURIER

Ravenna, Ohio

Circulation: 17,328

Perhaps something similar was the aim here by the folks in Ravenna, Ohio. Kent State pulled off an amazing last-minute, two-point upset win over Ball State, so an above-the-nameplate picture would certainly please local fans and perhaps sell a few papers.

And I don’t mind downsizing the nameplate on these attempts. But killing it entirely? I’m not so sure about that.

Now, it’s possible that something dropped out of the PDF file that the folks at the Record-Courier sent to the Newseum. So perhaps the actual printed page didn’t actually look like this.

Let’s hope that is the case.

All of these front pages are from the Newseum. Of course.

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