Black Jack, by Osamu Tezuka, is the story of a renegade surgeon and a seminal work in the Japanese manga canon, and yet, little known outside of Japan. Vertical Press hopes to introduce the series to American readers with its new English paperback edition of sixteen volumes, each with a sophisticated color block cover. Peter Mendelsund, the noted designer who moonlights as Vertical’s art director, was inspired by Josef Albers to create the framing device for the series, which introduces a different and striking color combo for each volume (Number 11 is above).
After designing the first few, Mendelsund mentioned on his blog, late at night, that he would be interested in reader submissions of color ideas for the next volume. Much to his surprise, thousands responded, and an off-hand post resulted in a competitive contest judged by Barbara De Wilde, Helen Yentus, and Jason Booher. Though all of the runners-up were designers, the judges awarded the top prize to a young college student: Abrian Curington, a 20-year old at Western Washington University, who is self-taught. Curington’s design, which will appear on the cover of the twelfth volume of the series, is to be published this month. Mendelsund is generous in his praise of all of the entries, pointing to the high quality of the entries as both inspiration and a source of fear: “I have terror about the remaining volumes now,” he jokes.
[This article appears in the June 2010 issue. See the full Table of Contents.]
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