The Daily Heller: Four Novel Graphic Novel Covers

Posted inThe Daily Heller

With apologies to my learned editor/colleague Zachary Petit, who scrupulously scans the shops each month for the best-designed book covers and jackets, I have an urge to include an additional few. In the realm of graphic novels and monographs, covers have evolved for the better ever since Art Spiegelman’s Maus raised the bar in 1991. To that end, I have selected four that caught my eye from 2023–2024, each for its ingenuity at marrying type and image into an engaging totality.

Palookaville 24 (Drawn & Quarterly), a long-awaited installment of Seth’s longtime series, is the perfect evocation of his contextually complex and graphically precise manner of rendering high-contrast geometrical compositions. The choice of Art Deco–inspired lettering for the title is a satisfying typographic complement to the spare cover image.

Elise Gravel’s microbes (Club Microbe, Drawn & Quarterly) are not exactly the same germs found under a microscope, but maybe with extremely powerful magnification the free-loading organisms that populate our bodies actually do have quirky human characteristics. And why wouldn’t they? Gravel’s lively and engaging cover design certainly makes one consider the possibilities.

Pierre La Police’s cover for Masters of the Nefarious: Mollusk Rampage (New York Review of Comics), translated by Luke Burns, quietly introduces a raging off-center adventure starring two mutant twins who share the job of paranormal investigators. Their mission is to solve crimes and combat evil along with their splotch-faced, bulbous-headed best friend, Fongor Fonzym. The cover art seductively hints at the surreal war with mollusks left in the wake of a freak tsunami.

Unknown Pleasures by Tomer Hanuka (Ginko Press) is not actually a graphic novel, per se, but it is a collection of the artist’s exceptional narrative graphics, with the most inventive lettering (on front and back covers) shown here. (I hope he’ll consider turning it into a font.) The book contains a variety of reimagined film posters as well as illustrations for magazines and self-initiated projects. As a special production feature, the cover and back cover are die-cuts—and I love die-cuts.