07 January 2012

'Love Me Do' - cover artwork

Here was a bit of fun from the making of this book.  The cover art was compiled from actual 1970s artifacts I had lying about, augmented with some credible relics that were close enough.  It represents the materialism of the 1970s period without having to depict actual people, so that a reader's images of Jon and Jeanne, though their descriptions are reasonably complete in the text, can be of anyone and not be bound by human images on the cover (don't you hate when book covers warp your perception like that?).  Besides, it's about as individual and unique as anything could be, since so much of the objects in the illustration are unique in the world.

From the top right corner, proceeding clockwise, here are some details about what's seen.

1. The ring is my daughter Mary's.  It is brown and embellished with gold glitter.  Being blonde as well Jeanne might have preferred this very 1970s colour scheme.  I actually wore this on my little finger for a while and when someone asked me why I replied, 'When a cute blonde girl gives you a ring, you wear it.'

2. The handwritten paper on Kant is from Mary, whose handwriting is an excellent example of a slightly-distracted high-school student's work.  It is feminine, though she writes very fast at times, almost sloppy.  I do keep a file of my kids' important schoolwork, poetry and short stories but chose this because I liked the subject matter.

3. The guitar plectrum is mine; it is very old and worn.  All my guitar cases tend to be swimming in old picks.  Aside from guitar I have nearly always played bass with a pick, like Paul McCartney, Philip Lynott and Chris Squire.  Bass-guitar strings, being thick, tend to take their toll on a plastic plectrum; about the only thing I know to be harder on one is when a lead-guitar player uses the edge to catch false harmonics (especially on higher strings) and gradually gouges it.

4. The strawberry stickers are featured in the text (see Chapter 2) but these were were cut out of paper rather than stamped.  At some time I will be offering authentic stickers and much else besides (keep in touch with the blog to see when!). 

The hall pass and tickets I explain in another place.

5. I think the purple ponytail ring belongs my daughter Rachel, from when she was little.

6. The little nickel-plated locket I borrowed off Rachel's bedside table.  It is only a simple little thing, something a (female) friend gave her as a part of a more substantial gift long ago, and she has rarely worn it.  I thought it looked a little childish, the sort of thing a girl keeps just because it connects her with her childhood.

7. The 1974 silver Kennedy half-dollar is one I have had since it was new and is now the coin placed under the mast step when my boat, which is a 1974 model, gets rigged and goes back into the water (not every spring).  This is an old sailors' tradition, a form of payment to the gods against the fear of having the mast break or come down.  So far, so good.

8. The hair grips (aka 'bobby-pins')  are from the bathroom; they are the girls'.  I did not choose any of their 'blonde-coloured' ones as I am not sure they existed in the 1970s.

9. The printed matter under the hair grips is a tract about how to tell your boyfriend 'no' and still keep the relationship going.  It is really dated (late-1960s)  and makes a quaint, if still relevant, read.  I have no idea how I came to have it-- I believe it was stuck in the pages of some old book.  It's very apropos because Jon and Jeanne will face this very issue (and get past it, along with many others).  We can presume Jeanne may have read such things; but above all we must conclude that she knows what she is about on her own.

10. The 'peace sign' doodle is on a manila folder.  In the 1970s we did not carry spiral-bound notebooks in rucksacks.  Most attentive students carried a three-ring binder, the kind with the canvas-over-cardboard cover, as Jeanne has  in Chapter 9.  The binders were not attractive and came in only a few dull colours with no printed patterns.

The coolest guys would carry all handouts and assignments in a single manila folder, regardless of which classes they all belonged to (a perhaps feigned sense of disorganisation was appealing then, a kind of antiestablishment statement).  Of course the folder got completely decorated in felt-tip pen and pencil over the course of many boring class periods.  One would exchange the folder for a new one only when it got too full of doodles or stickers to add more, not because it became torn or fatigued.  You could usually procure one from a teacher's supplies stash in the back of a classroom and so the practice was even financially expedient.

The biggest vulnerability came from when one of your rivals or mates would approach you from the back, tap the end of the folder near the top, and cause it to tip out all your papers onto the floor in a crowded corridor.  Then you would have total strangers glimpsing all your drawings and homework assignments or just walking all over them and kicking them aside.  This happened to me exactly once, in ninth year, and after that I was ever vigilant to the risk.

11. The mimeographed test paper is my own 12th-year British Lit final, taken in the last week of my high-school career and stuffed into the back of my yearbook which I was carting about collecting signatures (and where the test has been returned for posterity).  For some incomprehensible reason, in the topic that would become my baccalaureate major, I got only an 83 on this and so was very careful here to show only a part where I did pretty well.

Mr Romm was brutal with this test, providing a matching section (near the top) with 28 or 30 separate entries (as a teacher myself I never gave more than six at a time) and taking 3 and 5 points off at a time with abandon.  Nevertheless I loved that class and greatly admired the teacher, who receives a mention in the Author's message of the book.

12. The yellow card is a set of instructions that came with the new water pump for my 1968 Buick convertible-- as if any water-pump replacement on an American car of that vintage needs instructions!  The card is appropriately garnished in grime and gasket sealant, not from having been used for guidance (for really I do not think I read it at all, except to know what it was about) but from dirty tools at the bottom of my toolbox where it stayed (with the car's original registration) for about 20 years.

13. The black-and-white photo is of Badfinger, from a page that keeps falling out of my copy of The Longest Cocktail Party by Richard DiLello, a book I wholly recommend for anyone interested in The Beatles, Apple Records or the recording and music business of that period.  This book, which I got whilst in 12th year, became a major inspiration for writing Love Me Do in the first place and especially how it was organised, its narrative style and what details about the music industry it contains.

14. The green pencil came from the bank at which my mother worked during the 1970s or 1980s.  It is privately meant to represent the green draughtsman's pencil I borrowed from the girl who first inspired the character of Jeanne when she and I were in seventh year.  It was her father's.  I kept forgetting to return it and she started teasing me and calling me 'Pencil-Stealer' in the corridors.  I had such a crush on her that I was loathe to return what was then the only tactile proof of knowing her; but then my brother borrowed it, characteristically without asking me, and I never saw it after that.

15. I do not know the origin of the yellow flowery greeting card.  I used it only to cover up bits of the manila folder because the same folder appears on the back.   But Jeanne's favourite colour is yellow and that's why I chose it.

The entire collage was made up on the scanner glass and rearranged about 17 times till I got a satisfactory layout.  Colin liked it from the first, saying it was both relevant to the book and personally meaningful; and so we did not even solicit help from Gene or Atari on this.  The font is Courier, to resemble a 1970s typewriter (although way too big!).

The binding graphic was made up in AppleWorks to resemble the turquoise-blue lines of ruled school paper; but on the back we used an actual piece of paper (perhaps anachronistically spiral-bound) because the text would not show well against the body of the folder itself.  The text was organised about the red margin line of the background.  The folder is not really my English folder-- I do not think any of my well-decorated and well-worn folders have survived from that period-- only one I had from an old job.  But the inclusion of the peace sign within the letter G is typical of what I would have done then.  We all drew peace signs on everything, even if we came from families who voted for Nixon.  Someone has suggested that the diagonal hatching in the Chevrolet logo looks like it was done by a right-hander, not a lefty; but I did it vertically, only upside-down from how it appears on the book.

Now that you have read about the dirty little secrets of the book's cover (which you don't get with the e-text editions!) I hope you'll venture a bit of precious cash on the book itself!

This text and these images are part of the copyright held by Jonnie Comet Productions Ltd and may not be used, downloaded, stored or distributed through any means without express written permission.  Thanks for your respect, support & co-operation.

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