Over the years, we’ve had a lot of enthusiasm for the Penguin Classics covers by comic book artists, but we’re especially impressed with the forthcoming 25th-anniversary edition of Don DeLillo‘s White Noise, featuring artwork by Michael Cho and design by Penguin’s Paul Buckley. “I am a DeLillo fan,” Cho told us when we emailed him earlier this month after seeing the front cover reprinted in the Penguin catalog, “and White Noise was actually one of my favourite books when I was a teen… No joke—I was actually reading Libra when I got the call from Penguin.”
“Paul was very generous,” Cho continued, “and I was given complete freedom to come up with the concept, including both the front and back cover, the spine, and the french flaps.” You can see the complete design as well as all the other Penguin Classics comics covers (including gorgeous Tony Millionaire artwork for Moby Dick), but we’re going to pick out a few of the “comic book panel” images from the flaps, too, so keep reading…
“I’ve been a fan of Michael’s work for a few years now and check out his blog from time to time,” Buckley emailed us shortly afterwards. “I’m impressed by how bold Michael is—he uses just a few colors and blocks everything off in a deceivingly simple way that screams confidence. This guy can really really draw and has clearly studied the masters of yesteryear. He then puts that knowledge and skill back out there in a way that is super slick and simple and fresh and retro all at the same time. His talent is huge.”
Before assigning the cover to Cho, however, Buckley flirted with the possibility of getting a cover from Robert Crumb, thinking that the prospect of doing a DeLillo cover would finally convince the legendary artist to accept an invitation after several missed connections. “But DeLillo did not think Crumb the correct fit for this book,” Buckley explained, “so I pitched Michael, and he thought him perfect. In hindsight, he is and I’m actually glad DeLillo nixed Crumb in favor of Michael.”
(We confess: We’re with the author on this one. Crumb on DeLillo, sure; Great Jones Street, maybe, or Running Dog, but White Noise? We don’t see it.)
Cho goes into extensive detail about his approach to this project on his blog; we highly recommend checking out what he has to say. This edition of White Noise should be in bookstores at the end of the year.