Old Crime Fiction Novel Cover Designs


We recently came across some classic old crime fiction novels (covers donated by Gary Applegary) and had to share our love for these sorts of things. Most are from the early to late 1960’s with a variety of graphic designers given credit.

Look at the great composition on “Slack Tide”. Pure visual sweetness. The art of graphic design is on full display here…remember, this is pre-Mac days, this is Mad Men era stuff (for lack of a better term), which means a few things:

No Computers. No Scanners. No stupid “Crowd Sourcing” (see GAP’s recent disaster here).

What we have here are hand done works of graphic art. Typeset BY HAND. Drawn BY HAND. Mechanicals done BY HAND. Film stripped BY HAND. In many aspects, we here at Get a Clue Design Studio miss those days to be quite honest. The “art” of graphic design before anyone with a computer and a clip art CD could suddenly call themselves “Graphic Designers” and subsequently start dumbing down the industry we hold very dear to our hearts. As one site puts it: “Graphic design requires judgment and creativity. Critical, observational, quantitative and analytic thinking are required for design layouts and rendering.” See anything in there for “Make sure you have the latest software”? Nope. Don’t get us wrong, without the Mac things today wouldn’t get done in the present setting. This is more of an observation and commentary of sorts…heck, a “Call To Arms” if you will.

If you’re a graphic designer and reading this, ask yourself: “What could I do in this line of work if someone stole my computer?” It’s not an age thing, it’s an appreciation thing. Knowing the history of Graphic Art helps you be a better designer. It helps you have an appreciation for the CRAFT of this profession. Use a T square now and again. Draw a line with an ink pen or pencil. Get dirty.

So, next time you have a design project, take a step BACK from the computer, picture these great book covers and try thinking and sketching the concept…BY HAND.

You may just surprise yourself.