Penguin Competition: Initial Ideas

Following the briefing on Monday, the tutors asked for initial ideas and sketches today. This was an incredibly quick turnaround and meant that I had to generate multiple ideas quickly without too much thought. Luckily, I have read the book I am designing a cover for, giving me an advantage over those who have not. I wanted to use quotes from the book that I felt were important to the script and that added value to the story. One of the ideas I presented was based on the extract in which the detective is speaking with one of the killers and, after having him explain in detail what happened on the evening of the murders, asks him how much money they left the house with. After all, the intention of the break in was to steal large amounts of money which the two had been led to believe was stored in the house. The killer replies “Between forty and fifty dollars.” This quote is significant in allowing the audience to process the brutality of the murders, as the short and shocking sentence is delivered like a blow to the gut, a shocking shame of how a family were killed for spare change. For this cover, I sketched scrunched up one dollar bills covering the entirety of the front and back covers, scattered and creased like they have been thrown on a table as the killers empty their pockets after the incident. Another idea was based on the extract which tells how a red boot print was left in the basement, where the father of the family had his throat slit before being shot. For this cover I would use a black background with a red boot print blown up and stepping diagonally across the page. The title and authors name would be in white capitals in between the heel and ball of the foot print. I had other ideas, like using the two killers for the front and back covers, expressing the differentiation in their approach to the robbery and the remorse they do/don’t feel afterwards. On the first page of the book, Capote describes the place in which the family lives as ‘Out there’, as it is so far out from the city. I drew a few sketches of how I could use this on the front cover, perhaps on a road sign. My favourite idea also seemed to be the favourite idea of my colleagues in my group and Willy, an Australian tutor who led our feedback group. A quote I found particularly chilling was one sat by Dick’s mother when the detective asks whether her son goes hunting. “Him and David go out once in a while. After rabbits, mostly.” The word ‘mostly’, added on the end of that sentence is so literal, while the mother is unaware what she is really eluding too as she is not aware of the murders as of yet in the book. It also completely trivialises the brutal murders that have been committed, comparing them to the murder of rabbits and treating it as though it is a hobby. To represent this quote, I sketched a cover which had a photograph of four dead rabbits, shot and hung by the feet as the central image. The background would be ideally a dark silver/grey metal wall which would stretch the whole way across the front, back and spine of the cover. When I sketched this idea, I was slightly concerned about presenting death so literally on the cover, and also about the disrespect some may apply to the image in comparing it to the murders of the innocent family. However, it is that innocence which the rabbits and family have so heavily in common. In our group feedback session, Willy suggested I run with this idea as it is shocking and literal, demonstrating the lack of mercy the murderers showed the family.

I am happy to go with this idea, and I feel that visually it is the strongest. This is an adult book with adult themes for an adult audience, and so I feel that showing death in such a literal way is justifiable. My only issue will be attaining the photographs I need in the short timeframe we have of seven days.













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