Mister Doctor Men: Doctor Who Meets Roger Hargreaves

The various incarnations of the Doctor have long lent themselves to caricatures: the Second Doctor’s flute, the Fourth Doctor’s flowing scarf, the Fifth Doctor’s, um, celery. So a combination of Doctor Who and the art style of Roger Hargreaves, of Mr. Men and Little Miss fame, seems, in retrospect, blazingly obvious.

Image from Dr. First by Adam Hargreaves, available via Penguin Books

Adam Hargreaves has carried on his father’s work, and in collaboration with the BBC and Penguin Books, he’s turned out a series of Doctor Who children’s books that plans to devote one installment to each Doctor. The First, Fourth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctor books have already been released, with the Second, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth in the queue for this summer.

The results so far are certainly charming, though also undeniably aimed towards, well, children. (Of course, there’s an argument to be made that the entire series is aimed towards children, but we’ll ignore that debate for the time being.)

Image from Dr. Fourth by Adam Hargreaves, available via Penguin Books

For adult Whovians, the thin volumes serve as delightful little confections, priced perhaps a bit high for the amount of time one might reasonably spend with them but otherwise a nice addition to any Doctor Who book collection. I’m certainly appreciative of the inclusion of all of the Doctors, even the oft-overlooked Eighth. And for those hoping to introduce our favorite time traveller to young children, I can think of no better entry point than these cheerful and oddly respectful volumes.

(Images from Dr. First and Dr. Fourth by Adam Hargreaves.)

Covering Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald by Penguin Books UK on flickr.comOn their blog, Penguin Books UK recently posted the covers for their new hardback re-issue of several of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works. The foil artwork, by Coralie Bickford-Smith, is Art Deco in nature, echoing Fitzgerald’s times. The not-quite-symmetrical scallops on the cover of The Great Gatsby are quite striking, a commentary, perhaps, on the not-quite-harmonious contents within.

Every attempt at creating a cover for The Great Gatsby has to contend with Francis Cugat‘s iconic cover image, and I think Coralie Bickford-Smith takes the right approach here. Cugat’s image hews so perfectly to the novel that you can’t compete with it, and the Penguin cover instead takes a more muted, subtle tone—not an image but a feeling, a movement, an emotion.

And, one must add, the Penguin cover looks great with the other volumes in the re-issue series. Coherence of artistic cover vision within a series of books is so very important, and Penguin tends to get that aspect of series design correct, as seen in their Ian Fleming re-issues.

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Penguin’s Fall Foliage

Cover of 1939: Countdown to War from The Penguin Blog

Over at The Penguin Blog, the house blog for venerable publishing house Penguin Books, art director Jim Stoddart has unveiled some choice cover selections from this fall’s releases.

My favorite of the bunch has to be the cover to Richard Overy’s 1939: Countdown to War, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, combining the typically clean Penguin cover look with a sense of movement.

And I think I’m going to need to get the collection of 100 cover postcards being released in November. They’re just crying out for mounting in small frames.

(Cover image from The Penguin Blog)

James Bond Will Return in . . . a New Cover

The Penguin Blog, the “house” blog of Penguin Books UK, brings news of a cover re-vamp for the hardback Ian Fleming James Bond novels (“Covering Bond“):

The centenary of Fleming’s birth was clearly a good time to revisit the Bonds and cover them in a package that says, yes these are fun, but also makes it implicit that there’s no reason not to take them seriously. Most importantly, they should look like books worth owning.

I’m not entirely sold on the Bond novels as literature, but there’s no denying their importance to modern culture. And indeed, the books’ series design presents a refined style that helps capture the brutally sensualist spirit of the books (which never devolved into the campiness of the 1970’s and -80’s film iterations). These books would look good on any shelf, regardless of the books on either side.

Spines of new Penguin Bonds; image from The Penguin Blog at http://thepenguinblog.typepad.com/the_penguin_blog/2008/05/covering-bond.html

The Penguin Blog has a larger front cover illustrations of each of the novels as well, striking vignettes of femmes fatale in a single color palette. Bond is back, in style.

Plus, who knew Penguin Books had a blog? Another feed for the reader.

(via Daring Fireball)