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Novel Graphics
September 21, 2009 10:00 AM   Subscribe

"A few months ago, I got an email from Paul Buckley, the wonderful art director at Penguin Classics, who asked if I wanted to illustrate a book cover for him..." Illustrator Michael Cho on designing a cover for Don Delillo's White Noise as part of the Penguin Graphic Classics series, in which prominent comic artists and illustrators create covers for literary classics. All the covers can be found in this flickr set, including Daniel Clowes’s Frankenstein, Candide illustrated by Chris Ware, and Frank Miller's (kind of disappointing) cover for Gravity's Rainbow.
posted by dersins (23 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by dersins at 10:04 AM on September 21, 2009


These colorful comic book style covers will lead to a generation of disappointed 10th graders.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:08 AM on September 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now all I want is Chris Ware's Candide.
posted by cmoj at 10:10 AM on September 21, 2009


All kinds of awesome. Part of me cringes at the re-packaging of the classics which should be easy enough to pick up at any local used book store (assuming there are still used book stores in your neck of the woods) or online via used book sellers, but at the same time I'm all for getting weird comic artists and illustrators more recognition (Frank Miller, Art Spiegelman, and Roz Chast are the only folks I'd consider known to a larger audience, but my view may be tilted from my interest in who drew what).

Dharma Bums by Jason made me happy.

I think Tomer Hanuka needs to work on his arm details (that man has more tentacle than arm, it must reach past his knees when standing upright!)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:15 AM on September 21, 2009


That Marquis De Sade cover rocks.
posted by sciurus at 10:16 AM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


How perfect is it that they tapped Frank Miller to do the cover for a book featuring castration anxiety?
posted by Joe Beese at 10:18 AM on September 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


These colorful comic book style covers will lead to a generation of disappointed 10th graders.

It's for that reason I actually kind of dig the Frank Miller cover for Gravity's Rainbow. That's a book that should really speak for itself (well, shouldn't they all, I suppose); a cover too flashy would only get in the way of the insanity inside.

But I particularly like it because it's a black and white texture, with a rocket. "Hey what's this, a book about rockets? Rockets = win. But, it's in black and white...yet it says 'rainbow.' What's that about? Now I'm curious."

And then THE COLOR IS FILLED IN BY THE WORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 10:19 AM on September 21, 2009


That's not a disappointing Frank Miller cover. This is a disappointing Frank Miller cover.
posted by Artw at 10:20 AM on September 21, 2009


These colorful comic book style covers will lead to a generation of disappointed 10th graders.

Like kids today read comics...
posted by Artw at 10:23 AM on September 21, 2009


A lot of these are pretty great book covers.

And, a lot of them kind of seem like the artists took "design a book cover for ____" to mean "draw a one page comic about ____". They're neat comics, I guess, but as book covers? Meh.
posted by graventy at 10:37 AM on September 21, 2009


Dharma Bums by Jason made me happy.

Yeah, that one is probably my favorite, partly because it's awesome, but also because it kind of feels like it wouldn't have been out of place as the original cover.
posted by dersins at 10:39 AM on September 21, 2009


This is brilliant and evil, because now I am going to buy many of these goddamn books, even the ones I own already.

Damn you, Penguin!
posted by rokusan at 10:46 AM on September 21, 2009


They're neat comics, I guess, but as book covers? Meh.

Bet you didn't like this either. :-)

/snark

Ware has done a bunch of posters, covers, etc... like that. They're all pretty great, IMHO.

Of the other artists that took this route (it's maybe 4 of the covers) I'm maybe a little less keen on some of the less graphicy ones, but they all seem pretty workable to me.
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Marquis De Sade cover rocks.

Tomer Hanuka is awesome.
posted by Artw at 10:48 AM on September 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Frank Miller's (kind of disappointing) cover for Gravity's Rainbow.

I lost interest in most of Frank Miller's output when I realized he was less a versatile artist with a talent for revisiting genre standards in a fresh way, and more a versatile artist with an tendency to revise genre standards into hard-boiled eggs.

But I like that cover. It's cleverly done, understated on the first glance and a little gut-wrenching on the second.
posted by ardgedee at 11:25 AM on September 21, 2009


This is brilliant and evil, because now I am going to buy many of these goddamn books, even the ones I own already.

Damn you, Penguin!
posted by rokusan at 1:46 PM on September 21


Why? The flickr images are available at over 1600 x 2500 resolution.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:03 PM on September 21, 2009


dersins: Frank Miller's (kind of disappointing) cover for Gravity's Rainbow.

Damned if I can remember where I read it, but apparently when the folks at Penguin wanted to include Gravity's Rainbow in this series, they approached Thomas Pynchon and he said something to the effect of 'Only if you get Frank Miller to do the illustration.' So maybe it was a fuck-you from Penguin.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:19 PM on September 21, 2009


Oh, that's cooool.

Favorite three in order:

Tony Millionaire / Moby Dick – just completely incredible.

Charles Burns / The Jungle – really striking and unsettling even for him.

Third was close for me, but Lilli Carre / Huck Finn, I think – the whole thing is a great balance of colors and images. Tomer Hanuka's De Sade cover is also amazing. (You can break rules if you know what you're doing – that male figure is fantastic.)

My least favorite one is probably The Three Musketeers. I like Tom Gauld lots, but it's the only one that feels like a piss-take on its contents. Which doesn't seem right.

The Frank Miller one is solid.

Thanks! This was great.
posted by furiousthought at 12:22 PM on September 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll admit, it's been a long time since I've read The Three Musketeers, so I feel like I'm missing some in-joke from the book with that cover, because I had the same reaction to it as furiousthought.
posted by nushustu at 12:58 PM on September 21, 2009


"Frank Miller's (kind of disappointing) x" generally applies to anything after 1986. And even without the variable would probably still make a great song title.
posted by regicide is good for you at 2:07 PM on September 21, 2009


From first link: I felt that White Noise was too "cool" a book for such a "hot" approach as hand-lettered type.

Could anyone explain how "cool" and "hot" are being used here?

"Frank Miller's (kind of disappointing) x" generally applies to anything after 1986.

(goes and checks date of Daredevil: Born Again. 1986. OK then.)
posted by Zed at 2:36 PM on September 21, 2009


I loves me some Chester Brown, but his and the other "hey, I'll just illustrate some content" approaches really leave me cold. For one, it seems like less work than trying to provide a geniuine illustration that sums up a book; it also doesn't seem like a cover that will contribute anything to the book after the first read. I'll take the Miller approach, among others.

Seth, as always, turns in great work, and my delight at his cover is matched only by the outrage it generates among the easily confused.
posted by Shepherd at 3:19 PM on September 21, 2009


Zed - I'd guess that he's referring to White Noise being written in a mannered, formal way that demands similar precision and formality in its cover.
posted by Flashman at 4:02 PM on September 21, 2009


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