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Solo - Cover Art

1st August 2013

The cover artwork for William Boyd's upcoming James Bond continuation novel 'Solo' has been revealed

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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Press Release
As anticipation builds for the publication of the new James Bond novel, Solo by William Boyd, Jonathan Cape is delighted to reveal the official cover today, Thursday 1 August 2013. They have also announced that British actor Dominic West will be the narrator of the audiobook edition of Solo.


Above: UK hardback (Jonathan Cape) cover artwork.
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The cover, which has been designed by renowned Random House Creative Director Suzanne Dean, features a stunning retro-inspired die-cut design including, amongst other things, bullet holes. Dean took her inspiration from the 1960s setting of the book and design heroes including Saul Bass, who was also the inspiration for Random House’s Vintage Classics Ian Fleming series.

In true James Bond style, the primary colours and bullet holes of the dust jacket hint at danger, adventure and espionage – whilst removing the outer dust jacket playfully reveals a red hardcover printed with bullet burns and a gecko, a reference to James Bond’s African mission in the book.

Suzanne Dean, who has been praised by authors including Julian Barnes and whose other work includes the covers of Ian McEwan’s Atonement and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, commented on her design:
‘A new Bond cover needs to do a lot of things at once. It needs to appeal to literary and commercial audiences, both fans of the original 14 Fleming books and film fans. It needs to reflect both the content of the novel and capture the reader’s imagination.

‘William Boyd has chosen to set Solo in 1969, and achieving this period feel was one of my core aims when designing the cover, whilst also ensuring that the book retained a fresh and contemporary lay-out. I didn’t want just to depict a cinematic image, but rather to try and reflect the essence of Ian Fleming’s original novels as well William Boyd’s own take on James Bond.’

A version of this cover will also be featured on the audiobook edition of Solo, read by Dominic West. West is perhaps best-known for his roles in the HBO series The Wire, BBC Two series The Hour and, most recently, BBC4’s biopic Burton and Taylor, where he played the title role of Richard Burton opposite Helena Bonham Carter. Richard Cable, Managing Director, Vintage Publishing, comments:‘ We are thrilled to have such a distinguished actor as Dominic West reading Solo. It’s the perfect combination of reader and text. Audio listeners are in for a real treat!’

Suzanne Dean’s full statement on the design of Solo:
‘A new Bond cover needs to do a lot of things at once. It needs to appeal to literary and commercial audiences, both fans of the original 14 Fleming books and film fans. It needs to reflect both the content of the novel and capture the reader’s imagination.

William Boyd has chosen to set Solo in 1969, and achieving this period feel was one of my core aims when designing the cover, whilst also ensuring that the book retained a fresh and contemporary lay-out. I didn’t want just to depict a cinematic image, but rather to try and reflect the essence of Ian Fleming’s original novels as well William Boyd’s own take on James Bond.

Inspiration came from my design heroes Paul Rand, Alvin Lustig and Saul Bass, all of whom were practicing in the sixties and whose style evokes a sense of the time. Saul Bass, a graphic designer and filmmaker, was perhaps best known for his design of film posters and motionpicture title sequences, including Psycho, The Man with the Golden Arm, and North by Northwest. He once described his main goal for his title sequences as being to ‘try to reach for a simple, visual phrase that tells you what the picture is all about and evokes the essence of the story’. Alvin Lustig rejected the typical cover design that summarised a book through one general image. His method was to read a text and get the feel of the author's creative drive, then to restate it in his own graphic terms.

I used the title of the book – Solo – as my starting point. In the book, Bond goes on an unauthorised solo mission, recklessly motivated by revenge. I had always been keen, since finding out the title, that there might be a way to use the two o’s within Solo and link it to the zeros in 007. I used the font Folio, a sans-serif font designed by Konrad Bauer and Walter Baum in 1957 which became popular during the sixties. It has a strong circular ‘o’ in its bold version, which formed an important feature within the design. In my design, the shadows thrown by the overlaying letters suggest hidden danger and tension, whilst the final ‘o’ in Solo suggests a door, or an escape route. The die cut holes in the dust jacket are an abstraction of bullet holes, and represent a pivotal part of the novel. The holes on the Solo cover reveal a flash of the red binding below; when you remove the dustjacket, the binding playfully reveals a gecko – a reference to Bond’s African mission in the book – and burn holes from the bullets, giving drama and an interactive expression to the whole package.’

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Above: The US hardback (Harper Collins) cover artwork uses a bold black and gold design.