Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I found this image in the AIGA design archives. This is the cover art (designed by John Gall) for the book Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann. Doctor Faustus is a work of fiction that follows the life of a German composer in the 1940s.
The typestyle used for the cover is Fraktur, which was based on calligraphy. This particular typestyle was created by a German printer, Anton Schonsperger, in 1506. I think this typestyle works well for the cover of the book for a few reasons:
  • This typestyle just looks very German to me (which makes sense, considering that it was created by a German). Without knowing anything about the book, I assumed it was about someone German, or something related to Germany, just by looking at the cover.
  • I have not read this book, but all of the reviews I read claim that the book has a very dark and pessimistic feel to it. To me, this typestyle is very dark and ominous looking, which seems to fit the book.
  • At the time this typestyle was created, the word Fraktur was not only the name of a typestyle, but also a generic term used to refer to all blackletter type. Blackletter type has a very dark feel to it, which goes back to the dark tone of the book.

I think the designer did an excellent job of conveying the feel of this book. It shows that you don't always have to use a lot of color or pictures to get your point across. You can tell just from looking at the cover that this book is not a fluffy piece of reading, but a very heavy one.

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