Project Description

Penguin Crime Covers

In early 1961, Romek Marber’s covers for The Economist prompted Germano Facetti, art director at Penguin, to commission some cover designs. Seeking an exciting new identity for the tired-looking Penguin Crime series, Facetti then asked Marber and two other designers to submit their proposals. Marber won the job and his modernist cover grid proved to be a hit. Penguin rapidly applied the look to other series and it came to define the publisher’s image for a while and now looks like an emblem of its era. The beauty of Marber’s conception was that it permitted every kind of image to be harnessed, as he demonstrated with his own highly versatile interpretations of the crime stories. Below the typographic panel, he set photographs, photographic distortions, montages, graphic cut-outs and his own drawings, often mixing these styles within the same image. His covers are provocative and always surprising. Decades later, his work still exemplifies what we mean by ‘graphic thinking’.

Rick Poynor
Professor of Design and Visual Culture
University of Reading

Bruce Brown writes in ‘Romek Marber Graphics’: One day a young secretary in The Economist art department took a phone call from someone at Penguin Books who wanted to contact the designer of their recent covers. Read more