Staring at my Len Deighton collection this evening, as one does, I looked again at this superb Raymond Hawkey cover for the first Penguin edition (1965) of Horse Under Water. This was the second volume Deighton wrote after his debut The Ipcress File, and his Royal College of Art chum Hawkey was involved with the covers right from the start. The early hardbacks are now much sort after classics, with monochrome photography on white backgrounds and minimal typography, but Hawkey was presented with a particular problem here. The first novel had been made into what is now, quite rightly, a cult film, and Penguin wanted this cover, albeit for a different book, to be an all-singing, all-dancing reference to the movie. Frustrated at having his more discreet ideas turned down, Hawkey produced this in desparation. Yes, here's Michael Caine in big dot newsprint, with those thick-framed spectacles ensuring a passing resemblance to Deighton himself. But then the designer crossly caught the attention of the book-buying public with those big shouting stripes, just to make a point it seems. The first print run of 60,000 copies was sold out in 48 hours. To me, this is an essential item in the iconography of the sixties, the stripes immediately bringing to mind the security barriers at Cold War checkpoints. Hawkey continued the bold graphic theme with the original Penguin covers for Funeral in Berlin (orange and white) and Billion Dollar Brain (silver and black). Somehow you can't imagine tie-in covers ever being this good again. Horse Under Water, although optioned for production, was never made into a film.
Alan Aldridge 1943 - 2017
22 hours ago