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Lauren Beukes

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Cover Story

I’ve been lucky enough to get Joey Hifi to do all my book covers so far, from Maverick: Extraordinary Women From South Africa’s Past to the South African edition of Moxyland and now the Angry Robot version too.

After last week’s homage to the original cover in all its creepy cuteness (much cuteness here), this is a salute to the new cover and Joey’s eye for detail.

I can’t say I know all of cover designer Joey Hifi‘s influences, but know he reads a lot of comics, watches a lot of sci-fi and horror (good and bad – he’s got a much higher tolerance for schlock than I do) and I’ve heard him talk highly of Chip Kidd, Kai and Sunny, Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes and Garth Walker. From all of that and the weirdness of his own brain, he’s developed his own distinctive style and yet he’s also as flexible as a freak show contortionist, so he might do anything from designing very pretty maximilist soap packaging to illustrating the tentacled cover of Bizarre magazine.

We’ve been talking about doing a series of Goreyesque kids books on the grisly deaths of super kids and we’re planning to get started on a graphic novel just as soon as I wrap up Pale Crocodile (my new novel, currently being hatched). That’s assuming he’s got the time, between recreating Jean Claude van Damme as a pixellated Street Fighter II contestant for FHM or illustrating monkeys in Darth Vader suits for Wired.

Here’s an exploded view of the full illustration, with some of the highlights picked out.

Moxyland cover detail

Moxyland cover detail

Note the dissected rat on Toby’s chamo jacket, one of the images from his vintage gore porn folder that he likes to display on the skin of his Babystrange, mainly cos he’s a bastard like that.

My friend Gareth Jones stood in for Toby in getting the pose right. I’ve always thought Gareth would make a brilliant Toby. He’s probably the coolest boy in Cape Town and extraordinarily talented as a storyboard artist. Only problem is that he’s also extraordinarily nice, which Toby definitely isn’t.

Gareth Jones body double

Gareth Jones body double

Tendeka’s t-shirt references the photograph Hector Pieterson, 12 years old, dying in his friend’s arms during the 1976 June 16th riotsĀ  (11 days after I was born). The photograph by Sam Nzima was picked up by media around the world and became an iconic image of the Struggle. It’s absolutely the kind of apartheid activist memorabilia Tendeka would be into.

12 year old Hector Pieterson dies in his friends arms June 16th 1976

Hector Pieterson June 16th 1976

Real Revolutionaries: Andrew & Matthew Brown

And finally, a bit of cool trivia: Kendra is actually wearing my boots. Or rather my mother’s boots. They’re from the 60s. They’re dirty creamy suede. I wore them to the Moxyland Cape Town book launch and balanced precariously on The Book Lounge’s counter in ‘em (nearly causing my editor Helen Moffett to have a heart attack). The boots are one of the few things I have in common with Kendra.

At the Moxyland CT Book Launch
At the Moxyland CT Book Launch

Of course, there’s other cool stuff too – the missing link jpegs on the character’s faces and the “No Signal” on the cell phone screen, indicative of Ten being disconnected.

And for the fans of the original cover – there’s a shout-out on the back, of a Moxy stencil (and a DIY Moxy stencil within for those who want to spray the town red).

moxyland-backcover-low-res

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    July 8th, 2009 @08:51 #
     
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    Dem boots were made for launching. In my defense, re the heart attack, you were incubating baby Keitu at the time. This zoom-lens on the new cover is great, and I am now curious to see the back cover. Can you photograph it and add it to this post? V. interested to see how Angry Robot handle the blurb.

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    July 8th, 2009 @09:14 #
     
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    I'll scan the back cover and the spine this afternoon (and also for all the fans of Andrew Brown - and I think there were a lot after Sarah's launch) I have a photograph of him at 19 wearing that very struggle t-shirt - although unlike Tendeka, he was actually a hardcore struggle activist / MK cadre who got shot at and spent time training in Rwanda.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    July 8th, 2009 @09:28 #
     
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    Ooh, please post the photo of Andrew at 19! *Helen reminiscence alert* For those who don't know, Andrew was my student at that age, in the very first Chaucer class I ever taught at UCT. He was a fiery activist who was always missing classes and handing in his essays late, and I forgave him everything cos he was off dodging rubber bullets and getting teargassed in the townships. At the end of that year, there was a rumpus, cos the English II board chair wanted to fail him. I squawked. He had written a hardline (and brilliant) Marxist analysis of The Canterbury Tales in his exam. Yay, the external examiner sided with me and said if it were up to him, he'd give the exam answer a first. So Andrew passed.

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    July 8th, 2009 @09:43 #
     
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    This is great, Lauren. I love the little hidden surprises. Are you unwittingly creating a little cult, or are you being very witting and canny? These are the very sort of details that people on the interwebs will pore over when you're (even more) famous. And when you die (at the ripe old age of 98, I trust), the interwebbies will be looking into these images for signs and portents.

    This jacket has fully grown on me now.

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  • <a href="http://sarahlotz.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Sarah Lotz</a>
    Sarah Lotz
    July 8th, 2009 @09:56 #
     
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    Oh cool - I didn't know Gareth was Tendeka's double. Gareth is, indeed, the coolest boy in Cape Town. My mom has a huge crush on him.

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    July 8th, 2009 @10:22 #
     
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    Toby's double. And half of Cape Town has a huge crush on him. (when they're not crushing on Andrew)

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    July 8th, 2009 @10:29 #
     
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    @Louis. Er. Yeah, I'm just witting and canny. Actually, Dale is witting and canny. You should see all the gorgeous hidden detail in the Maverick cover (and the original Moxyland).

    Actually the thing we struggled with most on this cover was Lerato's hair. It's shorter in the book, more funky, but it didn't translate in silhouette, so we went with sleek. She's the kind of woman who changes her hair a lot anyway, so it's definitely a look she would have gone for.

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  • <a href="http://www.moxyland.com" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    July 10th, 2009 @10:10 #
     
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    @Helen, post updated with photograph of Andrew Brown (and my awesome husband guy, Matthew - the cute blonde beside him) and the back cover - the colours are horribly wrong. My scanner is not up to the task, I'm afraid of capturing that virulent orange of doom.

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    July 10th, 2009 @10:17 #
     
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    Brilliant back cover (that sort of big orange language wouldn't pass here, would it?) and brilliant photo of the revolutionaries!! Reminds me of my brother flogging R10 UDF and SSAC T-shirts to his family. They were good quality for the price, but ALWAYS yellow.

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  • <a href="http://www.modjajibooks.co.za" rel="nofollow">Colleen</a>
    Colleen
    July 10th, 2009 @10:51 #
     
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    Feeling mute today, read all of this. I'm in awe! Fabulous, interesting, brilliant marketing. Thanks for posting, Lauren.

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  • <a href="http://louisgreenberg.com" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    July 10th, 2009 @10:57 #
     
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    PS @Lauren - you sure like em young.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    July 10th, 2009 @11:19 #
     
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    Ta, Lauren. That's a cool, stripped-down back cover...love the evil ghost-Moxy (I note with interest the shelving instructions to the booksellers, we could do with a bit of that here). And thanks for the pic of Andrew, exactly as I first knew him -- although he didn't wear the beret to class.

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