Our Dream Team: Colleen Coover & P.G. Wodehouse

By Neal Comment

colleen-coover-wodehouse.jpgLast week, inspired by a comment from a fan on Twitter, writer-artist Colleen Coover posted a set of illustrations to her blog based on the characters from Clue, the ever-popular murder mystery board game. When we spotted the digital artwork, we immediately determined that it would be the most awesome thing ever if Coover was hired to create new covers for some P.G. Wodehouse classics—and Coover was as enthusiastic about the idea as we were.

“You can probably tell just by looking at my Mrs. Peacock that I’m enamored of Bertie Wooster’s Aunts, and I love the title Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen,” Coover emailed us over the weekend. “I think I was thinking about Bertie’s dangerous redheaded girlfriend Bobbie Wickham when I drew Miss Scarlet, albeit a Bobbie Wickham who’s been around the block a few extra times… Wodehouse’s men are continuously being put-upon by his women, whether through dominant personalities (Aunts), recklessness (Bobbie), or empty-headedness (Madeline Bassett). The idea of all these poor fellows in a constant state of semi-panic is hilarious, and makes for great cartooning!”

Now we just have to figure out how to make this happen! Our original idea was that Coover could take part in the ongoing Penguin Classics project of pairing comics artists with great literature; maybe, we dreamt, they could assign her Uncle Fred in the Springtime. (Coover allowed as how she’s a big fan of the Blandings House characters, and particularly enjoyed Fish Preferred, Heavy Weather, and Full Moon.) But then we were reminded that Random House re-acquired the paperback rights in 2006, and then we stumbled onto the first dozen covers from the new editions published last year in the UK and Canada by Random’s Arrow Books. (Like the editor of Première de Couverture, we thought these latest covers were a terrible step backwards from the Penguin covers from the late 1990s.) We aren’t sure what’s going on with Wodehouse paperbacks in the United States—they don’t show up in Penguin Group USA’s online catalog anymore—but if Random does have the rights, and it plans to augment the handful of titles published by Vintage. we think the art department should seriously consider Coover’s illustration portfolio.

(And if that assignment isn’t available, we encourage other art directors to take that same look!)