Hard 8

The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey.
Design by Gregg Kulick
Cover illustration based on a photograph by Bill Ross.

With this cover, Gregg Kulick threatens to do for Vintage crime what Susan Mitchell and Marc Cohen did for Vintage paperback. The matte cover and (I believe) silver metallic ink really invites one to spend some time with it to see how the visual texture of the city and tactile texture of the paper interact. The inversion of the image is inspired (and reminds me of a Georgia O'Keiffe painiting of a tree). It's as if you've been laid out by a sucker punch to the gut and am looking up at the sky; or you're looking down into a puddle before tossing your cigarette into it. And the moon looks like it would glow in the dark. I wonder if the gun and label are part of the brand, or if that's an extra touch by Kulick himself. (Incidentally, you can find the original photograph here.)

Mix not match

The Plauge of Doves by Louise Erdrich.
Design and illustration by Archie Ferguson.

Ferguson seems to channel Escher in this striking cover for Erdrich's novel of mystery steeped in a past of mixed-blood parentage. Given the description, the illustration seems particularly apt, as the doves don't quite mix and create black doves in the negative space as we've become accustomed to from the Escher prints. The cover is produced in a manner similar to that of All the Sad Young Literary Men. It is printed on a light stock, light coated, with spot gloss on the blacks to enhance them. The illustration above is appropriately dusted, with red and blue rays extending from the sun (unfortunately this scan doesn't adequately render the illustration). It almost seems to suggest that the illustration could be 3-D, if only you had the right frames with which to view it.

Exhibit A

American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent.
Design by Jason J. Heuer.
Photo-illustration by Shasti O'Leary Soudant.

A delightful illustration for this "disarmingly serious study of the history of the nerd in popular culture and throughout modern history." The spot glossed images sit nicely on the matte background; gold plaques indicate the objects set in the frames; and the subtle shift from right justified text to seemingly left justified images (which actually wrap around the jacket) to flush block of text at the bottom is well-considered and executed.

Running at the mouth

The Mayor's Tongue by Nathaniel Rich.
Design by Gray318.

Based on the book description, which indicates the book is about exploring different forms of miscommunication in developing character and plot, this whimsical cover seems spot on. It's another book which gains much in its production; the cover is printed on uncoated stock (the color and texture suggestive of old fairy tales to me) with spot-glossing on the title and author's name, giving it a slightly a modern touch. The cover also conjures up associations to Lane Smith's treatment of type and illustrations for Jon Scieszka' The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.

An apple a day

Better: A surgeon's notes on performance by Atul Gawande.
Design by Lisa Fyfe + Henry Sene Yee.

What really makes this is the metallic silver ink blanketing the matte finish cover, which unfortunately doesn't reproduce on-screen. Of course, the nice interaction between the type and image doesn't hurt. And it's nice to see the author image in profile and slightly minimized rather than taking over.

All steps go to seven

The Complete Novels by Jane Austen.
Design by Kelly Blair.

A lovely cover for this compendium of Austen's novels using patterns to indicate each work, with a peek into what lays behind the papered walls of decorum. A nice bit of spot gloss on the black stripe gives depth to the image, and offsets it from the matte paper patterns nicely.

Repurposed posters

The Commissariat of Enlightenment by Ken Kalfus.
Design by Elizabeth Ackerman.

Interestingly, Elizabeth Ackerman, in her credit, calls to attention her source material and inspiration for this particular cover: "based on a poster by Nikolai Prusakov, 1929." The poster in question is for a German film called The Man of Fire, and you can find it here. I thank her for introducing me to his work. I love all the white space and the positioning of the elements at opposing corners.