11 March 2009

Cover Designs, Shopping, and False Nostalgia

First came, it seems, Spacesick's "I Can Read Movies" series with covers reminiscent of Penguin Classics paperbacks from the 1960s.

How reminiscent? Consistent series design. Two-color printing. Graphics designed to strike the eye at a distance while evoking the story within. And, most powerful of all, the cream cover stock, browning at the edges like lightly toasted bread. The results really do look like volumes one would expect to find squeezed onto a shelf of a college town's used-bookstore.

Inspired with the same admiration for book covers past, M. S. Corley posted new designs in the same style for:

In much the same spirit, Blaze Danielle has posted her interpretation of childhood favorites in another medium: personal-shopping for literary girls after they grow up, in two posts on Storybook Fashion. Danielle appears to have chosen currently available garments, but of course she was looking at past depictions of those characters.

I suspect that Spacesick and Sorley aren't as old as the paperbacks they're using as models. They probably came upon those books after the Penguin Classics had already evolved to orange, blue, or black spines and full-color photos on the front. (Or, in the case of P. G. Wodehouse, delightful Ionicus illustrations.) Like Danielle's largely clothing choices, these retro looks seem to be a form of false nostalgia, not for the things of our own youth but for old things we encountered in our youth.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

(Hat tips to Betsy Bird's Fuse #8, Alison Morris's Shelftalker, and Ryan Wilson's ArtCow.)

4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I am filled with false nostalgia, and part of it is the nostalgia for things that seemed cool when I was young -- because I associated them with older people, even if I didn't enjoy them myself at the time. (Early '90s hip hop is my own personal textbook case.)

Ryan MCFC said...

I think it is actually more common to get nostalgic for things you didn't live through. Those things never became commonplace for you and they still hold a sense of mystery. I work in a place now where young kids are always coming in and asking me to tell them about "grunge" music and the concerts I went to. To them the album covers and the style of that era (only 15 years gone) holds an exciting mystery, to me it's just old stuff.

Me, I want to dress like it's the 19th century and carry a pocket watch.

Thanks for the mention!

Elizabeth said...

Fauxstalgia is going to be my new word for this.

I considered, but rejected, Not!Stalgia. Love it on paper, but it fudges the pronunciation and I am a stickler in my hipster neologisms.

Ahem. Back to your blog.

J. L. Bell said...

Love the retro-looking neologism!

I think there has to be a difference between fondness for a time one has experienced and a yearning for a time one has only learned about secondhand.

I can be nostalgic for the days when one could spot fire hydrants hand-painted red, white, and blue. But if I were to long for the chance to win a dinner plate at the movies, I could be no more than fauxstalgic.