books

What Is the Essence of a Book?

Over the last couple of months, I have been picking my way through I Read Where I Am, “82 reflections on the future forms of reading.” In the book, some contributors claim that we read less than we used to, while others suggest the opposite—though the definitions of “reading” and “text” differ. Is reading...

Many Happy (Tax) Returns: A Marxist Doctrine

With all of us looking at the Fiscal Cliff on the horizon, who better to explain things than Marx . . . . . . GROUCHO Marx. About 15 years ago, I traded my signed copy of The Groucho Letters to the animation creator/director Tom Warburton for his 1942 edition of Groucho Marx’s second...

Bucky Fuller's Book: "I Seem To Be a Topsy-Turvy Design"

Last week, Steven Heller covered Quentin Fiore, designer of books by the medieval-minded media theorist Marshall McLuhan and the yuppie-brained Yippie leader Jerry Rubin. Heller also mentioned a 1970 paperback that the architect/engineer/designer R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller put together with Fiore and writer Jerome Agel. Fuller has been called the grandfather of the green movement....

My Ideal Bookshelf: The Books That Make the Designer

Visually, the average bookshelf is a mess. Arranged along single planks are these hundreds of objects of every conceivable dimension and color, spanning decades—centuries, even—of our cultural history. Stately black-and-orange Penguin Classics butt against the garish hues of a science fiction series that we secretly devour, which rubs covers with our starkly minimal art...

A Report on Comic-Con… and Covert CIA Actions

Last week’s Comic-Con at San Diego’s Convention Center was overloaded with activities. If you were a Hollywood celeb–obsessed fan you may have spent much, if not most, of your time stuck in lines. But if you were a lover of well-designed graphic narratives, you needn’t have wasted one idle moment during the five full...

Illustrated Classics of African-American Literature

Students: If you plan to cheat on your book reports, take a look at Graphic Classics. As Art Spiegelman put it, “Comics are a gateway drug to literacy”; for the visually oriented, this series will open doors to literature. It’s also a stunning contrast to those dreadful 1950s Classics Illustrated comic books, with their dry,...

Chip Kidd's Vertical Adventures: Talking Book Design and Publishing Smut

“Penis!” It was the first thing out of the book designer Chip Kidd’s mouth, and without a moment’s hesitation. He and Gary Panter had just been asked: if you could create a magazine of your own, what would you call it? The Pee-Wee’s Playhouse designer was more circumspect, eventually considering the title “Smurfy Beaver Shots.”...

Say, What's a Flong?

Does anyone know what “flong” means? I bet you don’t know what a “pop test” is? I enjoy collecting antique terms, especially for the design and printing fields. I take impish joy asking young students what “leading” means and how it was derived. Or what a “cut” is and how it got its name....

3:02 PST. Pacific Standard Gift Book Time, part 2

This is a follow-up to my earlier post on holiday gift suggestions for people who like their art, and art catalogs, served with a hearty helping of design content. . Catalog L.A.: Birth of an Art Capital 1955-1985 Centre Pompidou exhibition catalog For graphic design enthusiasts, the best overview of Southern California’s current Pacific...