Tuesday 10 December 2013

The Horror! The Horror! (2)

Continuing the seasonally inappropriate horror covers theme, take a look at these bloodsuckers. After their 20th-anniversary special editions last year, BFI have chosen another bunch of their Film Classics books to prettify: books on some of the great Gothic/horror movies. The results are gorgeous, and often unexpected--there's not a splash of blood in sight.

(Note: there are two Nosferatus here: both the 1922 and 1979 versions have books dedicated to them.)

Design by Mark Swan

Design by Matt Brand (this is the 1979 Herzog version)

Design by Matthew Young

Design by Midge Naylor

Design by Santiago Caruso

Design by Ben Goodman

Design by Graham Humphreys (and for one of my favourite films)

Design by Julia Soboleva (this is the 1922 original Nosferatu)
More on the series, with comments from the designers, here.

The Horror! The Horror! (1)

What's that? You don't want to read my long, involved, boring story of why there have been no posts for ages? Well, fine, be like that. Have some covers instead.

These are the six Penguin Horror books released a couple of months ago, a series "curated" by Guillermo del Toro (whose introduction is fortunately far better written than the vampire books he 'wrote'). The covers are the work of Penguin design supremo Paul Buckley. I wasn't sure sabout them when I'd only seen thumbnails online, but in the flesh they're luridly wonderful, using a range of expensive cover treatments (neon ink, silver ink, SuperMatt varnish--the one that feels like rubbery skin--and spots of viscera-like gloss varnish) to make them tactile and unsettling.

Click all images for embiggening...

Each cover makes use of a different fluorescent ink

Most series would reuse the same bit of distressed/damaged art for the back covers, so full marks for giving each book its own piece of nastiness

All the page edges are black as well, to add to the atmosphere

Here the books are shown with a tiny graveyard, for no useful purpose whatsoever

Del Toro's introduction (the same in each book) seems to suggest that at one point Henry James's The Turn of the Screw was meant to be a part of this series. It would be interesting to see how Buckley combined the over-the-top nature of the series design with that book's more restrained horrors.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Lolling About in Bed

Since the last two posts have featured cases of one image, many covers, let's do a trilogy. Here's a photo by Barnaby Hall (to whom this has happened before, several times) that keeps turning up on covers. This nudely reading woman is very multilingual.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Maigret on the Beach

Perhaps to make amends for their Morrissey shenanigans, Penguin Classics UK is embarking on the admirable project of publishing all of the 75 Maigret novels by Georges Simenon, in new translations. Coming out roughly one per month (not dissimilar from the speed with which they were sometimes written), it would have been easy to just go for the stock photo option--that is a lot of books to cover, after all.

Happily, Penguin have commissioned Magnum photographer Harry Gruyeart to produce new images for each of the books. His photograph for the first book is especially appealing, with a man who could be Maigret wandering along a seafront in end-of-the-world light.

The next five covers are these...

..the last of which nicely echoes this frame from the 1932 Renoir movie of the book.

As yet another example of why stock photos can be a problem, have a look at these books. In each case the image is well chosen and nicely used, but they've ended up looking the same.

A "funky for young persons" edition of the Bible

It's also been on a CD:

There's more Simenon cover coverage in these posts.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Smoking in Bed/on the Beach

The paperback of Stuart Evers' rather good Ten Stories About Smoking is not a patch on the boxed first edition. Its cover image has also now been reused, with a bit of Photoshoppery to transplant the fuming young woman from bed to beach, on a new Australian novel.

Sunday 13 October 2013

He Finally Got What He Wanted

Oh dear. I had heard that Morrissey was insisting that his imminent and much-delayed autobiography be published as a Penguin Classic, despite never having been published before and quite possibly not being a work for the ages, but I hadn't realised the had caved until a recent search of the imprint's forthcoming releases revealed this:

This seems pretty shoddy. Still, at least the previous inclusion of Allen Ginsberg and Ayn Rand in the Classics catalogue had already meant my abandoning my attempts to collect the whole line.

UPDATE: I see I'm not the only one dismayed by this, though unlike the writer of that piece, I would be pretty fucking angry to see the none-more-overrated Bob Dylan added to the Classics list too.

Thursday 10 October 2013

A Bite on the Bum of Consistency

In the past I've been aggrieved about autobiographies with pictures of the authors on them, and even more so about novels with pictures of the authors on them. But it can be done well: witness next year's Muriel Spark reissues from New Directions in the US. These beautifully fucked-up photos of Spark are nicely matched with the plots/themes of the books.

I'd like to see what they would do in this line with her The Girls of Slender Means, a wonderful novel set in a girls' lodging house in Blitz-haunted London, where an unexploded bomb on the property heightens all of the sexual tension to bizarre levels.

It's also a shame they haven't used any photos from Spark's later years, when she wore the world's most massive pair of glasses, but there's more backlist to be redesigned...

I have a number of Spark's books in old omnibus editions that also used her photos:

I also have most of these novels as individual books too--I usually try not to double up like that, but all of her books are so admirably short that they hardly take up any space at all. Or at least that's the argument I might try on my wife as I contemplate adding the new ND editions to my collection.

Monday 7 October 2013

Posh Fan Fiction

Julian Barnes once described literary prizes like the Booker as being "posh bingo". I can only think that the depressing trend of commissioning literary novelists to write new books about established characters is basically posh fan fiction. Everyone involved ought to have better things to do.

Having said that, the cover to John Banville's Chandler cover version is pretty damn nice. It's by Jonathan Pelham.