Cover Corner: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Cover Corner is a new area of the blog dedicated to the artists and designers behind those book covers we love. The ones that make us impulsively pick up and take a chance on a book we nothing about just because the cover promises something as fantastic inside as out. I’m always being seduced by book covers and I’ll admit I’m guilty of buying a book purely because I like the design of it.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

For my first Cover Corner I wanted to talk about this gorgeous collection of Philip Pullman’s famous Dark Materials trilogy: Northern LightsThe Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. These books have been released many times now with various cover designs – some less inspiring than others, but the most beautiful and unique of these has to be the Lantern Slides Edition, from Scholastic Children’s Books 2007.

These stunning designs, illustrated by the amazing John Lawrence, make the artist in me shiver with delight. It’s not often (unfortunately) that we get to see traditional artwork like this used on book covers anymore – not only do these striking black and white etchings give this edition a special sense of quality, that these are books to be treasured, they also allow Pullman’s fantastic series to stand out on the shelf amongst a sea of photograph covers. Most importantly, they immediately make you (well me anyway) want to delve right into the story without even needing to read the blurb.

The detail in these etchings is just extraordinary and a real treat (believe me I’ve done etching before and it is extremely intricate and a lot of hard work!) These designs succeed in giving any potential reader a strong sense of a fantastical adventure that awaits them inside the pages.

I just love how the ornate alethiometer draws your eye, right bang in the middle and the way the symbols are joined together to create a bold border, subtly incorporating His Dark Materials at the top.

The decision to use a style of illustration that evokes the 18th Century lends itself perfectly to the period atmosphere that Pullman creates within Northern Lights; I’ve always loved Pullman’s visual descriptions of Lyra’s Oxford so it’s great to get a cover that really captures that.

Inside we also get delightful little mini illustrations with each chapter, drawn by Philip Pullman himself.

It’s a real joy to sit down and pick out element’s of the story hidden in these covers, such as Lee Scoreby’s hot air balloon, before immersing yourself in Pullman’s world.

Beautiful, beautiful books – inside and out.

Check out more about John Lawrence’s method of working here.

A great interview with Philip Pullman, which talks about His Dark Materials and other books can also be found here.

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2 thoughts on “Cover Corner: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

  1. I do like the illustrations on the cover, they look beautiful! I’m not so fond of the font choices though, particularly for the title. The letters feel a bit ‘wobbly’ and the fringey bit on the titles make them feel a bit fuzzy and friendly which doesn’t match with the story.

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