Wednesday 31 March 2010

Fourth Glimpse

Another Great Idea cover:

I'm wondering if there's some detail we can't see here, as the usual quote from the work is not visible in this scan.

While talking of the Great Ideas, have a look at this Flickr set from designer Phil Baines. It includes photos of the making of his covers in this series.

More substantial posts are a-coming, by the way. It's just that I'm on leave from work, and enjoying reading (and watching old French crime movies) like a man possessed.

Sunday 28 March 2010

Third Glimpse

In an ideal world, I'd put all of the covers to the fifth and final Penguin Great Ideas series up in one post, but they're leaking out one by one, so that's the way they're being posted here. Here's a great (and funny) essay by George Eliot.

Other covers in this series are found here and here.

I'm also intrigued by these three upcoming Penguin Classics covers, as I don't know who did them, and I like them.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Burton Atwoods

Nathan Burton is something of a favourite round these parts (see his work on Patricia Highsmith, Pat Barker and Edith Wharton, for example), so it was great to see his Margaret Atwood redesigns for Virago finally appearing in Australian bookshops recently. Atwood is an odd case. I like some of her work immensely, but her science-fiction (which she goes out of her way to pretend isn't science-fiction) is usually awful: it has the self-satisfied unoriginality of somebody who hasn't read anything in the genre from the last 50 years, and so thinks that their daft cliches are new and exciting.

Anyway, I'll get off my hobby horse: here are the covers.


(NOTE: This post originally criticised an element of Oryx and Crake that was, in fact, entirely a product of my faulty memory, and not something Atwood had actually written: my apologies!)

Monday 22 March 2010

Second Glimpse

...and another: (UPDATE: by Phil Baines--see here for behind-the-scenes photos)

Drinking From a Skull Like a Coconut

A few months ago we looked at the first Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction (here and here). And now they're abouit to release volume two. The cover promises more delirious and endearingingly demented shenanigans.

Click for a big version in all its mad glory.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Penguin Great Ideas Round 5: A First Glimpse

The fifth and final set of 20 Great Ideas books from Penguin is set for August 2010. The first three covers have leaked out into the world, so here they are. I imagine that David Pearson is the man behind the overall look, with other designers contributing.

UPDATE: The top and bottom covers are by Phil Baines, with the middle cover by David Pearson.

The Great Ideas books always look so nice that I'm willing to overlook the fact that Penguin is also publishing something called Psychic Cats in August, a completely non-ironic book of bullshit by the author of An Angel Called My Name: Inspiring True Stories from the Other Side, and other such nonsense.

If Covers Like This Don't Get More People Reading Poetry, Nothing Will

Designer unknown, but I like it!

UPDATE: Alice Smith identified it as the work of Jay Ryan--it's a 2008 print entitled 'Madison Exchange'.

Something Has to Happen Next, a book of poems by Andrew Michael Roberts, published by University of Iowa Press.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Mooncake Vixen

After writing about Chinese/Japanese cover cliches, I was contacted by the extremely talented Alice Smith (about one of whose covers I wrote here). She has recently done a cover and internal illustrations for the about-to-be-published Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen, a Chinese-American novel by Marilyn Chin.

Said Alice, "I too, went profusely through all the cliches over and over... from samurai swords (so brilliantly NOT RELEVANT to this book), to moons, dragons, meat cleavers, pretty ladies, not-so-pretty ladies, birds, sea waves, geishas, kimonos, shadows, Chinese menus, noodles... And on the final design - I fandango'd: blossoms, peonies, a panda, and all the animals of the Chinese calendar - how many points do you get for all those cliches? And how many points do I lose for a German typeface (Weiss) on the cover?"

Ms Smith was kind enough to let me repost some of her internal illustrations for the book: see more of her amazing work at her blog, and I hope to have  proper interview with her here soon.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Split Faces

An unnerving effect can be achieved simply by combining two disparate faces, split neatly down the middle. Here are two alarming examples, the first from a book by excellent Canadian writer and blogger Brian Busby...

..and the second from a huge and entertaining Taschen book on films (though it weirdly includes Face/Off as one of the 100 greatest movies).

Speaking of Taschen, here's a weird recent release of theirs: Norman Mailer's MoonFire, in the hideously expensive "lunar rock" edition. You get a sort of box/table thing with legs like a Lunar lander and a lid like a topographic Moon map, plus a bit of the Moon. Yours for only 60,000+ euros. I sort of admire the massive scale of the thing, while also shuddering at its general vibe of vulgar hideousness.

This folly reminds me inevitably of one of the other daftest manufactured book 'collectibles': The Stephen King short story My Pretty Pony, printed as a book with metal covers and a cheaparse digital clock glued to the front. Yours for $5000.

And getting back to Taschen madness, how about their £9000 edition of GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), a big book about Muhammed Ali that comes, naturally enough, with a box, a stool with a tire rammed over it, and an inflatable dolphin.

Baen (spelled with a double-D)

I've been trying to track down some obscure but supposedly excellent mid-century science-fiction short stories, and I find that some of them are available in new paperback collections published by Baen. That ought to be a good thing, but it isn't entirely--Baen books are almost universally hideous. Typography, colour choices and art combine to make for some of the most embarassing books you could be seen buying or reading in public.

They also tend to make use of one (or rather two) specific selling points in their art.

Those bosoms stay oddly pert for women who don't wear bras (or, indeed, clothes).