Posted on June 24, 2008 - by MG
Author Tour Report 3: Gorgeous Thing – the cover of ‘Invisible City’Originally uploaded by mgharris
My editor Elv said it best, I believe…it is a gorgeous thing. And nothing to do with me…except very indirectly as the author of the story which inspired this artistic vision of Andrew Briscombe from Scholastic.I’ve visited a school every day for the past three days of my author tour…photos to follow when I get home. A big talking point is always the cover, which the young readers adore, but also teachers including one Headteacher and an award-winning librarian…Now a couple of reviewers have been a bit sniffy about the cover, whilst being perfectly lovely about the novel itself. That’s okay…its success in attracting readers might lend the impression that it’s what such reviewers have decided is simply a ‘marketing gimmick’. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…to quote a famous Seinfeld episode…
But in fact, as I’ve discussed with almost 400 school students in the past three days…the jacket of Joshua Files is a genius tactile intrepretation of some key facets of the story.
Allow me, Umberto Eco-like, to offer a semiotic analysis of this remarkable piece of packaging:
1. ‘Invisible City’ features a mysterious ancient Mayan book whose cover is deadly to touch…hence the removable cover in dangerous-looking neon orange.
2. The J symbol denotes the Maya…in a highly subtle way. Mayan ruins impress immediately with their terraced temples of stone rising from the jungle…the parallel lines of architecture. Hence the lines of the J symbol. And when you slide the slipcover across the J, white lines appear next to the black ones…steps in shade and light.
3. The J also represents hieroglyphic writing. It is in fact a glyph – symbolizing Josh.
Umberto would have had said something much cleverer and brought in some eclectic references from art history and maybe quoted Deleuze…but, yanno.
At a school in Romiley, Stockport today, a year 11 boy showed me up for the slow-witted, former Rubiks wannabe I am. He finished the cube 60 seconds before me, in true Rubiks-kid fashion, hardly even glancing at the cube as he whooshed the pieces into place. By comparison I was staring at the cube, slowly turning it much as a caveman might handle a one-for-all TV remote.
Nice going pal, but as we say in Mexico…’Como me ves, te veras.’ (as I am, you one day will be)
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