Random House imprint Vintage is redesigning the paperback versions of Thomas Pynchon’s novels, to coincide with the paperback release of his latest epic, Against the Day. Previously issued with simple, graphics-based cover art, all eight new covers will feature complex illustrations created by Yuko Kondo, depicting characters from each of the New York writer’s intricate novels.
The publishing house hopes that the illustrations will convince bookshop customers to spend more time perusing the books. ‘Thomas Pynchon’s novels are densely packed, with numerous meandering narratives, zany characters and sub-plots,’ says Random
House senior designer Michael Salu. ‘We felt this should be reflected on the covers and illustration seemed the obvious solution for tackling this daunting brief.’ Salu adds that the previous cover art failed to communicate Pynchon’s literary style. ‘You cannot define his novels with one image, because of the excess of language and vision in the books.’
However, Salu reports that he took a relatively simple approach to the typography for the cover.
‘Because the illustrations are intriguing, the type has been treated in an uncomplicated manner,’ he explains. ‘This creates a contrast with the dynamic illustrations and contributes to a distinctive and consistent rebranding of Pynchon’s novels.’
The redesigned Pynchon collection is due to be published by Vintage later this month.
• Random House owns 23 imprints, including Vintage and Jonathan Cape, which publishes Thomas Pynchon hardbacks
• Random House uses an internal design team to create its book covers and jackets
• Cover illustration and photography are both outsourced
• The art department is split into the literary and mass-market divisions, each employing about six designers
• Both teams are overseen by creative director Suzanne Dean