Shadow and Light
posted: December 15, 2008
I get a call from Farrar, Straus & Giroux to design a book jacket for a novel by Jonathan Rabb that is set in Berlin around 1930. The story centers around a detective and a murder at the Ufa movie studios; the legendary director Fritz Lang is a character in the book. The whole thing reeks of German-noir and Ludwig Hohlwein, and the art director is thinking about something with echoes of Lang’s Metropolis poster.
Fritz Lang movie posters...
I send this sketch, everyone likes it, and we try three or four variations of the guy at the bottom. I like to handle all the typography on a project when I can, and on this jacket, for a little joke, I add a small logo that mimics the Ufa logo and uses the initials of the publisher, FSG.

The design is a wrap-around image that shows nighttime Berlin on the back cover. I send off the file and look forward to seeing the book on the shelves in the spring.
A couple of weeks go by, and I get another call informing me that the editors are uncomfortable with the lettering, and they’ve decided to go with this version that uses a straight deco-ish font.
I go downstairs and order a gimlet.
Brian Taylor - December 15, 2008
At least they kept your little FSG logo....
WAM December 15, 2008
Mark Fisher December 15, 2008
Paul, tough one on the lettering. Those creamy black greens are luscious.
David Flaherty December 15, 2008
I don't mind the new type, I think your art may stand out more. (I know the type was your art!) Nice job Paul, the sketches are great too.
Dennis Bolt December 15, 2008
If they wanted Metropolis, you certainly delivered, so I am a bit baffled. But why did they use such a thick ham-handed version of an Art Deco typeface?? Couldn't they use a nice version of the more understated deco that you used for the spine/author?? A thinner version with more "knife/beam of light" edges would have harmonixed with your art more, rather than that train-like face! Otherwise, great job!!!
Michael Sloan December 15, 2008
Paul - Either way it's a terrific cover, though I like your lettering better. I especially like the way you made the transition around the spine to the back cover.
Cathie Bleck December 16, 2008
Really beautiful! Did you work with Susan Mitchell? FSG is one of the best publishers for illustrators to work with.
Robert Saunders December 16, 2008
Paul, great job despite their tinkering. Their font doesn't relate to your drawing, only contrasts with it; it's fused on top of your art without integration of elements. The Metropolis style despite its overtones of Retro chic is an emotional style, scary to them. That's my angle anyway.
laura t. December 16, 2008
that is CRIMINAL that they changed out your awesome type!! i got so excited about the thumbnail when i clicked on your post and read through, and the end of the story was heartbreaking. at least you know in your heart you did the better one ;)
Heckadude + Design December 29, 2008
Fantastic cover! Your original type gives it such attitude that the final seems to now lack. Either way, the illustration and color scheme are superb.
Duane Spurlock December 17, 2009
I like your original better than the published version. Excellent work.
Robert Rodriguez August 1, 2018
I love this cover, and I was drooling over your re-interpretation of the Metropolis lettering into Shadow and Light. Then read the end results, and I think the idea of ordering a gimlet is perfect. Much better than how I would deal with it. Since I don't drink, I guess sobbing and tearing my hair out would be a pretty embarrassing alternative. 626 564 8728