Usually book cover designers only get to choose one or two cover effects and the majority of the time it will be one of the more reliable, affordable and impactful finishes such as a spot varnish, emboss, foil stamp or if the artwork is more ‘arty’ or literary, perhaps a uncoated paper.
There are so many lovely effects, papers, inks and binding methods that we rarely get to try out, so you can imagine my elation when our Managing Director Sarah Odedina handed me a brief to design a cloth-bound, hardback, special edition of MAGGOT MOON that would come in a slipcase, have head and tail bands as well as a ribbon! Sarah wanted me to base the cover art on our adult edition of MAGGOT MOON that we released after Sally’s Costa Book Award win. The cover featured an anthropomorphic sun smiling down on a rocket, stars and two rats (who I like to imagine are Standish and Hector) scurrying about on the surface of the moon. The cover was heavily influenced by Russian matchbox designs from the space race era. The old tiny matchbox art looked amazing when enlarged to book cover size, exposing all manner of beautiful imperfections, like ink layers being out of registration and lines that should have been straight being bumpy and peppered with holes.
There was to be no blurb on the back or flap and no shout line on the special edition cover. The barcode would be a peel-off sticker. There wouldn’t even be a frick-fracking title or author name on the front! After setting the rule book on fire and throwing it out of the window we set about trying to create something that wouldn’t look out of place in Standish’s world. Something that would celebrate Sally Gardner’s Costa and Carnegie wins while also staying true to Standish and his story. It needed to be bold, sinister, and an object of desire; something to be coveted, to be cherished.
We opted for thick, layered and purposefully out of registration Colorit inks that gave the impression the art had been screen printed long ago. Sadly these inks weren’t cheap. As the cost of additional extras like head and tail bands, ribbons and non-standard colour endpapers began to mount up, we had to find ways of making the project work financially. One of the ways we achieved this was by using the cloth beneath the ink as one of our ‘colours’, punching holes through the artwork ink and thus allowing the cloth to show through, and therefore creating a third colour that we otherwise couldn’t have afforded .We chose red for Russia, deconstructavist propaganda and all things bloody. Graphite grey for the bleak world Standish inhabits and white for the moon.
I later learned the lovely and super talented Sally would be signing and numbering 1500 copies, making this special edition even more desirable.
I had hoped to get hold of number thirteen or 666 but the Hot Key staff were under strict orders not to pinch copies from the boxes piled high in our office. The copy I do have in my office is neither signed nor numbered so please cherish your edition should you be lucky enough to get your mitts on one.
Thanks for reading.