Thursday, May 28, 2009

Old Covers and New Covers From Old Covers

I've wanted to post a couple great archives of book cover work since giving my spiel at The Show n' Tell Show's book design talk and am just now getting around to it:

The first is Thomas Allen's book art photography. His manipulations of these covers coupled with creative use of focus is perfect... and gives the impression that their construction was simultaneously painstaking and ridiculously fun.

(To give proper credit: before coming across the archive, I was first exposed to Allen's work via Chip Kidd's design of James Ellroy's novels, and had always meant to look into his work more. I'm glad I finally had the opportunity to stumble into other examples.)

The second archive is a collection of Penguin science fiction covers from 1935 to 1977. These are absolutely mouthwatering. And it's great to see Kurt Vonnegut's books looking less ashamed to be housed in that world. Cat's Cradle is science fiction after all (as is my favorite Vonnegut book The Sirens of Titan), but for the bulk of the last several decades, with genre fiction being a sort of pariah in literature proper, these covers and their amazing art have mostly gone the way of the decoder ring.

(And I have to note another great feature of the archive: the side by side comparison of each edition of the different books.)


Tim said...

Funnily enough, I was just in Foyles in London looking at books purely because I liked their covers.

(I know it's wrong, but I always judge books by their covers)

Love those Thomas Allen ones - I've always been a bit of a fan of those types of pulpy artwork, and love what he's done with these examples.

Paul Hornschemeier said...

Agreed (about Allen's work). The things he's doing with focus are almost as interesting as the arrangements themselves.

And about judging a book by its cover: yeah, who doesn't? I mean, if we're being honest. There are some books that may be great that I simply couldn't stomach ever seeing. Snobbish? Maybe a little. Sorry, ugly book.