Cardon Webb Has (Re)Designs On George V. Higgins

Weekly Lizard

In reissuing George V. Higgins’s classic crime novels, Vintage Crime/Black Lizard turned to designer Cardon Webb to create bold new covers worthy of these remarkable books. In this exclusive essay, Cardon gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the design process.

George V. Higgins is known for his realistic, gritty, and dialogue-driven writing. His novels are primarily set in Boston and focus on criminals and the cops who pursue them. Cogan’s Trade, The Rat on Fire, and The Digger’s Game were written and take place in the 1970s. I initially looked to this era for creative inspiration, using color choices and type treatments reminiscent of the design work being done at that time. At the same time, wanting the series to feel fresh and current, I decided to take a slightly more contemporary approach to the covers.

George V. Higgins Paperbacks

I chose to approach the illustrations in a gestural, sketchy way. I feel as though this quality helps to underscore the genre. The unrefined edge works as a signifier of the book’s content before the reader has opened it up. The type I chose is bold and condensed. This particular font, Kabel, has unique characteristics and is less ubiquitous than other condensed sans serif fonts. The “G,” with its bottom right stem extended and crossbar removed, is particularly distinctive. As “Higgins” contains a double “G,” I knew it would be an attractive choice, creating almost a logotype for the series.

Designing for a series is much different than doing so for a single book. Your choices must be carefully considered, as the main elements will be repeated on all books in the series. It’s a challenge to create a look that allows each book to stand alone as well as fit into the series. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard has used this type treatment on eight Higgins eBooks, and thanks to the strong adaptable elements on these covers, designing the series has been an easy and comfortable task.