Wednesday, May 19, 2010

For That Not-Quite Coral, or, all those yr-to-yr details we die for

I will work on the layout. It's a little too Campbell's Pop, which is to say not my kind of Pop. But I'm working on it.

It's the red, right? Let's talk about the color red. Tell me you can tell that that isn't Warhol's red as much as it's that indeterminate red red that belongs, universally, to the 1950s. That red that maybe became a mod poppy red over the course of the 1960s (Notably, like beloved Pacific Southwest Airlines girls, 1973). Or maybe like Calder red, the most loving (and mid-century) color around. There is that color that is unmistakably "vintage," the color of Modernism. And it looks great on books.

So let's talk about some of those Cold-War-Not-Quite-Coral Calderesque red red books.

First, a Meridian Book. 1962, and I don't think I need to explain why 1962's colors are not 1960s colors, per se.

Oh wait, do I?

Maybe I'm talking about the pre-Cuban Missile Crisis comfort, or maybe it's something less cliché. But either way, 1962 is not 1963 is not, for sure, 1967 and is not 32 Campbell's Soup Cans. (which were finished, however, in 1962. But it's not the same!)

Some reading on aesthetic details & mid-century accuracy:
Typeface Mad Men Controversy (for those who love Kuhlman love arguing about Helvetica, amirite?) (incidentally, this article steered me right clear of Arial in making this layout. And, actually, in general)

and, NYT on attention to "throwaway" details (alas, not the article I remember reading an article with Amy Wells or Janie Bryant or someone, explaining the way that secretary girls were in '59 patterns while the ad wives were in '62 Vogue, or whatever. Also, on that note, Tom & Lorenzo's pieces on what's becoming every outfit on that show.)

Mad Men: Legitimizing, Naturalizing, and Explaining My Neuroses to Regular People since 2007.

So anyway, I was saying, we all know 1962 red is a whole different story than 1967 red or Warhol red or anything. And here is the glorious red itself:

Maybe a little bolder after scanning, but I'm sure you understand.

I concede, though: In then end, is there anything more 1960s then that phrase? "After Alienation"? (My high school lit teacher would say so.)

It's not credited, which is a shame. Any clues? It seems Elaine Lustig designed for Meridian until 1961, but no, I don't think this is Elaine's (and wishful thinking that would be).

In any case, the universe that is that unmatched red, perfect red. I was thinking, is this a red that comes with age? Do I associate it with an era just because, after 50 years, that's what all reds have become? I doubt it, my other red-red books say otherwise. No, we're just looking at a time when there were enough people gainfully employed in the US that just knew that ugly primary red just would not do, at least not with that blue, and not for the educated masses of trade-paperback lit-theory consumers. People that spoke that language.

And all I know, Cold-War red and perfect denim blue and aged-off-white in the wide margins is so perfect and so 1962.

I'm not a real designer or anything, but can we talk about margins for a second? Have a look:

I don't think it's just me. How can an inch of space on the bottom be so sexy? Not to be that person or anything, but man, the good old days. It's just not the same since the implimentation of the bar code, amirite? Negative space. Classic.

I was going to introduce some of my Scribner Library collection. But this is enough, I imagine. In closing:


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