Sunday 15 July 2012

A real cover up .....

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

I imagine that will be the defence of this apparent example of flattery presented as a 'tribute' to the work of the late Ray Hawkey, who created one of the most iconic front covers of the 20th Century with his work on the first edition of The Ipcress File.

Birlin, a Scottish publishers, has used a pastiche of Hawkey's cover for a new paperback by Barry Fantoni, Private Eye writer who turned to detective fiction.

They would one imagines have known what they were doing and this appears like a - admittedly, quite clever - bid for press coverage by this Scottish publisher, working to the maxim 'all publicity is good publicity'. After all, I'm writing about it; designers are up in arms; it's in the news.

Deighton's friend and biographer Edward Milward-Oliver has alerted me to this article in The Observer, which reports on the flagrant appropriation of Ray Hawkey's Ipcress File jacket design for this new novel. Edward has written to the publishers:
"It took many years of determined study, practical application and a large helping of God-given creative genius for Hawkey to arrive at his design. It continues to be recognised as a key milestone in Hawkey's significant influence on the visual culture of Britain in the second half of the 20th century."
Berlinn claims that it is an homage to Ray Hawkey's original jacket for The Ipcress File, that their design is a public show of respect. Yet they don't credit Hawkey's original work and did not seek the prior approval of his widow.

The Observer report's Berlinn's publishing director Neville Moir as saying he "regretted" that there had been no printed acknowledgement of the original jacket and Hawkey. With hindsight, he said, he would have given one. He added: "We weren't trying to pass off anything." The fuss he describes in the article as "unfortunate" - although, of course, it's likely to drive up sales no end, which will be "fortunate" for Berlin and Fantoni.

Is plausible deniability a defence?

Up on the main Deighton Dossier website is a copy of the article Edward wrote for 007 magazine on the work of Ray Hawkey, which of course included pivotal covers for the James Bond stories as well as innovations in newspaper magazine illustration and design during his career as a designer.

The two covers are published on this blog post. You take a look and decide: loving tribute, or rip-off. Readers are encouraged to get in touch with the publishers Birlinn to voice their disapproval, if they so wish.

See this post by Mike Dempsey to get the design world's perspective on the story.

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