Monday, October 22, 2007

Chip Kidd no longer phoning it in (Dororo covers?)

I've been back for about a week, but catching up on work and life stuff and (surprise, surprise) behind on blogging. I have a ton of things to post, and promise to get all the news, links, reports, and German Cosplay pics up soon!

First post back, let's talk Tezuka. As announced about a month ago, Vertical's Spring 2008 line-up includes a 3-volume release of Dororo. The covers for Volumes 1 and 2 are online at Amazon, and I'm happy to report... Chip Kidd new Vertical Art Director Peter Mendelsund has delivered some extremely great work. I know I'm sortof the king of online hyperbole, but I think these are his best manga covers yet.

Before we check them out, let's take a quick look back... Here is what we've gotten from Chip (to date):


BUDDHA. Sleek and simple hard cover books with continuous spines depicting Buddha's entire life. Set the standard for fancy, high price point manga editions and won tons of awards.
GRADE: A-


ODE TO KIRIHITO. A crazy cover for a crazy story, this cover featured a vertical obi that could be slid back and forth depicting the transmutation of Dr. Kirihito. The inside flaps depicted menacing, shadowy scenes and the entire volume was thicker than the bible. He even used that font everyone seems to use before it got played out.
GRADE: A


TO TERRA: For each volume, Chip juxtaposes one of Takemiya's detailed and emotional close-ups with a battle/earth scene. The author and book details are a bit busy on the front and back covers, and it's hard to tell each indvidual volume apart. They're good but not great.
GRADE: B


APOLLO'S SONG: Well, the color scheme is bold and sort of fresh, but I don't feel any immediate connection to the contents of the book. The crying close-up face is actually a fake obi (glued-on) that gives the illusion of a nude female below. The image underneath is actually tame, and the obi on my book got caught on something in my bag and tore. There's a lot going on here, but it didn't come together for me.
GRADE: B-


ANDROMEDA STORIES: Dude, it's just.. faces? All in profile looking to the left? I like the idea behind sticking Takemiya's usually breath-taking art front and center, but these covers seemed kind of flimsy to me. The typography and entire bottom bar look more like an advanced preview copy.
GRADE: C-

OKAY, NOW FOR THE NEW STUFF


MW: OH SHIT, CHIP. This is more like it! The black and purple is totally striking, and the rectangular panels with parallel MW = ムウ totally works. This cover drips of depravity and bad morals and I love it. Tezuka's art provides so many raw images and options, and Kidd chose well here.
GRADE: A




[[UPDATE: As noted in the comments below, the Dororo covers were done by new Vertical Art Director, Peter Mendelsund! He posted to say,

wow- i ended up on this page totally by accident- and saw your post. Actually, I designed the Dororo covers, all three- and now am hard at work on Tezuka's magnum opus "Black Jack" for Vertical press, where I just started as Art Director. I figgered, as long as i landed here, I might as well set the record straight!

Keep on keeping on,
Peter Mendelsund
]]

DORORO: When I saw these covers on Amazon my first reaction was, HOLY SHIT! NO WAY! That's the kind of design I'm talking about! Dororo seems like a cute adventure, but it's basically about a warrior traveling around killing demons to reclaim forty-eight (48!!) missing body parts.

These covers include lots of imagery NOT from inside the book, depicting limbs, organs and tissues, like a grisly Invisible Man toy set meets Phoebe Gloeckner's Atrocity Exhibition illustrations. Chip Peter's work here is aesthetically striking enough to honor Tezuka's legacy, but isn't afraid to be fucking weird and gross and choppy with the themes and art from within the manga. Mr. Kidd, you have simultaneously given Dr. Tezuka his due and got me extremely geeked for these releases-- RIGHT ON!
GRADE: A+

Here are a few other incarnations of Dororo, a cover from a Japanese release and the live-action adaptation poster:


And if you can't get enough, here is the trailer to the Dororo film (released in Japan earlier this year. I hear that Sony has the US rights for the movie but isn't sure yet how to market and release it for American audiences...


8 comments:

Claytonian said...

It's so odd that a book cover designer is so well known. I did a paper on him in college.

bryan reynolds said...

how is Apollo's Song?

nate said...

fucking MENTAL

khursten said...

Holy! Those are pretty covers! I never realized they were done by one man! Now I'm a fan! <3

Now why can't they get those covers for Adolf and the likes!? ><;;

Ryan said...

@clay: it's true. The man is a legend among japan-nerds and book-nerds. I only recently learned that he created the Jurassic Park logo way back when? Incredible stuff! I love all the stuff he's done for Vertical's fiction books, and recently he did a great cover for Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible.

@bryan: It's my least favorite of the Tezuka stuff released by Viz or Vertical-- Pretty epic, but it doesn't compare (art of story) to something like Ode to Kirihito, Adolf or Phoenix. THAT SAID, it's still a fucking brilliant tezuka manga.

Calling something my least favorite manga released in English by Tezuka, is like saying it's my least favorite color in a gorgeous rainbow made of gold; It's still definitely worth checking out!

@nate: INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE... INSANE IN THE BRAIN

@khursten: Oh yeah, and Chip even did some covers for Murakami novels (UK editions, etc). If you were struck by a mainstream book's cover design in the past 15 years, there's a REALLY GOOD chance it was done by this dude.

bittermelon said...

chip kidd?

PFFFFTTTTTTTT

zzzzzz

ryan said...

@bittermelon:

HAHAHAHA.... touche!?

that is why I think you are awesome.

Peter Mendelsund said...

wow- i ended up on this page totally by accident- and saw your post. Actually, I designed the Dororo covers, all three- and now am hard at work on Tezuka's magnum opus "Black Jack" for Vertical press, where I just started as Art Director. I figgered, as long as i landed here, I might as well set the record straight!

Keep on keeping on,

Peter Mendelsund