Tuesday 30 November 2010

Owls, Butterflies, Nudes

While trying (and failing) to track down something both in print and in English by an apparently amazing Austro-Hungarian writer named Géza Csáth (and if he's as good as his cousin, Dezső Kosztolányi, then he's very good indeed), I did find these two French translation covers, from the Arbre Vengeur imprint. Illustrators unknown, but I like them a lot, especially the owl-woman.

So here we have another French imprint which (usually) limits the artwork on their covers to a circle.

Thursday 25 November 2010


Here's another case of a single image cropping up on multiple book and album covers. The photo is Oliver Wasow's 'Kaaterskill Falls, Universal Studio'...

..and here it is on two books...

..and an album...

One of the two covers to Tortoise's It's All Around You

Several other books use Wasow's multiple exposures/digital collages well:

Charles Burns vs Tintin

When I was a child I never really read the Tintin books (you were either an Asterix person or a Tintin person, and I was in group one while my brother was in group two), so I missed out on some great stuff when I was the perfect age for it.

As an adult, I am definitely a Charles Burns person (in the sense that I like his work, not in the sense that I'm some strange teenaged mutant freak with a tail like one of his characters). I liked his take on a classic Tintin cover for his most recent book, X'ed Out.

Now I discover that there's some weird France-only remix of X'ed Out called Johnny 23, which rearranges the images from the book, adds new art, and uses only the strange alien alphabet from the first book. It, too, references a classic Tintin cover.

X'ed Out, by the way, is very good, but it's also, annoyingly, only the first part of a story, which I didn't know when I bought it. Nothing on the book tells you how many parts there will be, or when the next one is due. Given Burns doesn't exactly churn out a new issue of his work every month, I wonder whether I'll see the end of this story before I die.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Black Cockatoos and Crying Children

Australian publisher Allen & Unwin is celebrating its 20th birthday with four "classics" from its backlist (I use inverted commas as The Slap is too new and anything by Andrew McGahan is not good enough to qualify), done up in fancy screenprinted fabric boards, without any text on the covers. The four books in question are (click for much bigger versions):

Journey to the Stone Country by Alex Miller

White Earth by Andrew McGahan

Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville

The Slap by Christon Tsiolkas
 I really dig these--the textlessness, the limited colours and the bold graphics really work. I don't know who any of the artists are as yet, but am endeavouring to find out.

UPDATE: Annette of Allen & Unwin gave me the designer details--"It was our two very talented inhouse designers, Lisa White for 'Lilian's Story' and 'The Slap' and Emily O'Neill for 'Journey to the Stone Country' and 'The White Earth'. Lisa reworked the artwork on 'Lilian's Story' from the original cover art by Hans Selhofer. We're very proud of these 20th anniversary editions and very proud of our excellent designers."

Monday 22 November 2010

Actes Noirs

A couple of months ago we looked at some non-English-language versions of the mystifyingly popular Stieg Larsson books. Some of the most striking were these creepy versions published by French publishers Actes Sud in their Actes Noirs series:

Illustration by Isabel Samaras

Illustrations above and below by paintings by John John Jesse

These made me want to see what other Actes Noirs looked like, and I'm glad I did. Though I'm not sure that limiting the artwork to a small oval is always the best treatment for it, it does give the series the feeling of a number of alarming and creepy scenes glimpsed through a keyhole. As a non-French-speaker, I can't work out who the artists and designers for these books are, but here are those that most struck me.

UPDATE: However, the inestimably wondrous Derek has done some sleuthing, and found several of the artists responsible, including those for the Larssons above, so I've added their details under the relevant covers.

This and a number of the other illustrations are the work of Nicoletta Ceccoli

I can't tell you how much I prefer this approach to the usual UK/US crime novel cover cliches of scratched-up, oversized type, murky stock photos of hands/mouths/silhouettes, and random blood spatter.

Thursday 18 November 2010


Two sets of books coming from Melville House late this year and in the middle of next year. The latter set are the first books in a projected 'Neversink Library', and use a simple but stylish series of cover designs based on silhouettes.

I'm completely up for this series, because Irmgard Keun is great, that Simenon is really good, and the little-known (in English) Ödön von Horváth is fucking awesome.

More Germanic shenanigans start in December with these Heinrich Böll reprints, each of which uses stark symbols (mostly made up of circles and other simple shapes) to represent the book

And that title font has to be Mrs Eaves Italic, which is one of my favourites.

I have no information on the designers for either of these books. The Böll books are designed by Kelly Blair, and the Neversinks by Christopher King.