Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Jack Kerouac: Cover Designer

When his first novel, The Town and the City, was published, Jack Kerouac was unhappy with the cover his publisher had graced it with. He was unhappy enough, in fact, that he put pencil to paper and sketched out his ideal design.

Kerouac’s design was rough, but deeply detailed and included not only his own image, but his last name repeated several times on the pavement of the road included in the drawing.

The author liked his sketch so much that when he sent the manuscript to to be considered by A.A. Wyn in 1950, he included his sketch along with the following note:
Dear Mr. Wyn:
I submit this as my idea of an appealing commercial cover expressive of the book. The cover for “The Town and the City” was as dull as the title and the photo backflap. Wilbur Pippin’s photo of me is the perfect On the Road one … it will look like the face of the figure below.
Apparently, Wyn wasn’t impressed enough with either the illustration or the work to take it on because the book wasn’t published until five years later when it was published by Viking who really should have take Kerouac’s advice. The cover they stuck on the book must have made Kerouac despair. Even so, if you want one of those ugly first editions, plan on spending around $7000. Double that -- or more -- for a signed copy.

Just can’t get enough of On the Road? The film was adapted for the screen in 2012 and directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries, Dark Water). The movie version was produced by Francis Ford Coppola and stars Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Danny Morgan, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst, and Viggo Mortensen.

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