Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I love this book cover: The Lie Detectors

The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession
by Ken Alder

University of Nebraska Press designer Joel Gehringer kindly agreed to share some thoughts on designing this cover:

Is there anything in particular you'd like to share about this design?
I have to give a lot of credit to the editors on the design for "The Lie Detectors." After we had tried a number of different concepts, they decided they wanted something evoking the Dick Tracy-esque, pop-art feel of the 1950s, and the paranoia of the era, which plays a big role in the lie detector's history. In that sense, they started me down the path for this one.
Where did you find the images you used?
I went searching for something I thought would fit these concepts and came along some great art at one of our photo services. The artist had a number of fairly basic comic book panels that weren't too exciting on their own - expressions, detectives, cars, faces, that kind of stuff.
How did you arrive at the decision to crop them the way you did?
I realized that with the right framing I could make those images a little more dramatic and get at that nervous paranoia. I think the idea that you can't see the whole face of the man at the top forces the imagination to churn a bit (I added the lie detector devices on the fingers, so now I tend to imagine he's getting nervous because of some tough questions). On the bottom, I cropped a fairly plain image of a smiling detective with a magnifying glass to make him into a more ominous, dangerous-looking figure, maybe an interrogator of some sort. The angles just add to the uneveness, making it less orderly and thus more dramatic.

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