Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Achebe All Over

In January, Penguin UK plans to relaunch their Chinua Achebe backlist. Instead of the current photographic covers, they're using bold, dramatic illustrations, with a limited palette of only three earthy colours.


 
 
 
 


These illustrations were originally created for Achebe's US covers, from Anchor, where there are a couple of extras to be found. The designer credited is Edel Rodriguez.


 
 
 
 
 

I really like these images. Arrow of God and No Longer at Ease, in particular, remind me of the work of Saul Bass (see this post for more)...




Penguin's catalogue for 2010 appeared online briefly over the weekend, before reverting to 2009. While it was up I managed to grab a few other covers, which I'll post in upcoming days.

UPDATE: The Achebe cover designer, Edel Rodriguez, got in touch to say "I did all of the illustrations and hand lettering for the original versions. I had to rework the images to fit them in the Penguin UK templates. They have a certain type treatment and color palette that is part of their format. Naturally, I prefer my originals, more space, less crowded, etc. But I understood why things had to change for the Penguin UK versions."

8 comments:

Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

I love this blog! Those covers are fab. I like the cover with the intertwined trees the best. They look almost human... Like longing.

JRSM said...

Thanks, Christy: they're gorgeous, aren't they? I think that's my favourite, too.

Still working on tracking down those book rights, by the way--I think I'm close!

Ian Shimkoviak said...

those are a great string of covers. Love the palette.

JRSM said...

I had to check several times to make sure there are only three colours used--the effect is of more, without being distracting. Very cleverly done.

Anne said...

I like that they're using these again -- if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Except . . . they DID try to fix it. Look at how the snake illustration changed! The head is on the outside of the spiral now.

I like the hand-lettering of the originals better. It interfered less with the illustrations.
Also, I think it's four colors, if you count the grey text? Five if you consider the white a color (black, orange, tan, with big grey and white text dropped in)! Whereas the originals only used three (black and orange on a cream background, which is really two colors, right?). That looks more elegant, in my opinion.

Maybe these are not the final versions?

JRSM said...

Well spotted, Anne--I hadn't noticed the changes. I didn't count the grey text and white bands, though I should have, as they're part of the standard Penguin Modern Classics dress.

edel rodriguez said...

Hi, I did all of the illustrations and hand lettering for the original versions. I had to rework the images to fit them in the Penguin UK templates. They have a certain type treatment and color palette that is part of their format. Naturally, I prefer my originals, more space, less crowded, etc. But I understood why things had to change for the Penguin UK versions.

JRSM said...

Edel, thank you for visiting to let me know more. They're beautiful covers. I've added your comments to the end of the post. I'm also going to email you to ask if you're willing to be interviewed, so be warned!