Thursday, 21 July 2011

C W Bacon book jackets

Designs for book jackets formed a significant part of Cecil Bacon’s workload and he put a great deal of effort into something that about 90% of book-buyers threw away at the first opportunity. These examples came direct from the artist on the same occasion as the Radio Times scraperboards featured recently. I chose these for their stylistic range and for their association with hard-boiled fiction and science fiction. Bacon varied his approach for each commission, opting for an Alajalov New Yorker-style drawing for The Little Sister, a light touch of Cubism for Mildred Pierce, a streamline look for Red Gardenias and magic realism for The Lost Planet. All the title information appears to be hand-lettered. It would be interesting to know more about the commissioning process and to what extent the approach was prescribed by the publisher. How many ideas were rejected or returned for re-drafting? We may never know the answers to these questions but we can be certain that publishers placed a high value on Bacon’s reputation for conscientious effort, for reliability and for delivering on time.

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