This one was a journey.
Da Capo creative director Alex Camlin and I got together on this book project back in January when the original title was: How Bill O’ Reilly Saved Christmas: A Fair and Balanced Account of Right Wing Persecution Fantasies. As one could likely deduce from the final, approved jacket above as well as the initial Bill O’ Reilly comps below, the book is an extended exploration of the journalistic practices of FOX news, slippery slope arguments, Bill O’ Reilly, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, etc. The opportunity to work with Alex on something was a no-brainer for me, and being impressed as I was (and am) with Rex Bonomelli’s handling of A Bold, Fresh Piece of Humanity, however opposite in tone I imagine that book to be, I set off to work.
Having Bill’s name in the original title was a fairly obvious point of departure from which to assign visuals so the earliest comps for this went as follows:
Alex and I both championed the title-less pencil rendering of Bill in the Santa hat, but in those early rounds, the collective favorite proved to be the final comp above with the pencil drawing incorporated into the stripes of the US flag. We went through multiple variations on that one before the title was changed up.
When we received word that the title was changed, it was a bit of a doozy. The original title, already a bit lengthy, had now been transformed to: BLOWING SMOKE: Why the Right Keeps Serving Up Whack-Job Fantasies About the Plot to Euthanize Grandma, Outlaw Christmas and Turn Junior Into a Raging Homosexual—quite a mouthful. Also of note was that Bill O’ Reilly’s name was nowhere to be found amidst all of those words, which meant that we’d be starting from scratch. Our quest began anew with a brand new crack at it:
The whole conceit of the final ‘BS’ idea felt more like an interesting thought which would never see the light of the day in the real universe, so it was mighty exciting to have Alex return from his editorial and marketing meetings telling me that the crew was all behind BS—the only catch being the common concern that buyers might not make the conceptual leap quickly enough if the complete title wasn’t on the cover. At this point, the challenge then became how to make an interesting cover around two huge letters while juggling a handful of other, smaller ones. In exchange for lessening the graphic impact of a big, fat ‘BS’ standing alone on the cover, Alex encouraged me to experiment with die-cut and transparent jacket options as well as the standard ones. With that, we were back to work:
(My first crack at a transparent jacket option, with the complete author & title printed on the book proper).
(Die-cut option #1)
(Die-cut option #2)
The final treatment above, which would eventually lead to the final, chosen cover, was arrived at in no small part to the perks that one benefits from by working in the same office as a design ninja like Joe Spix. Joe came into my office one afternoon apropos of nothing and asked plainly:
“Hey, you want to play with some photo emulsion transfer markers?”
Joe’s far too talented and responsible for me to ever interpret such a question as an invitation to huff those markers’ noxious fumes, so I obliged. As he was using them for a wholly different project at Motown, when we ran a few xeroxes and applied them on some raggedy newsprint, the germ of a possibility of a notion of a new comp was born. Once I had submitted it and received the go-ahead from Alex, the only remaining requests from the whole crew were that the title be somehow integrated into the giant ‘BS’ so to avoid confusion and also to include some color variations. We were close.
And there you go.
This would have been non-possible without Alex’s guidance and Joe’s conveniently timed experiment. I thank them profusely.