I had some prior experience of working on the production of Penguin covers while a student, when Richard Hollis, who taught me lithographic printmaking, asked me to assist him. The economics of printing then was governed by the technology, with each colour adding an additional cost. So most Pelicans were designed using only black, Pelican blue, and the white of the paper. Unlike digital printing current today, lithographic inks (other than black) are transparent, hence when two colours are overprinted they produce a third. In covers which I designed later I delighted in substituting a colour other than black, so that one could overprint it with the blue to produce a third colour. Creative use of ‘overprinting’ in this way has tended to be lost with the introduction of current digital printing.
The book for which Germano bought the CND poster image was The Pacifist Conscience (2). The poster was intended for display partly on London Transport’s underground stations. As LT’s policy was not to accept any posters which included imagery which they deemed ‘political’, I aimed to produce an informative poster, with an abstract image evoking either a gathering together, or an explosion. This first cover set the tone for my relationship with Germano. I appeared to have been typecast, as I got the distinct impression that whenever he had a particularly knotty or arcane subject, which defied visualisation, I would be asked to produce at the drop of a hat what I term a ‘Vaseriley’, ie an optical art image similar to the work of Victor Vaserely or Bridget Riley. I had great difficulty convincing Germano that I was capable of anything else, which was frustrating. I recall vividly one delightfully persuasive briefing letter from him asking me to produce something for a particularly obscure topic. He sweetened the pill by referring to the assignment as “another ripe plum” for me. The pace of the work was such that I was working on three or four titles at any one time. The work for Penguin by and large was fun. (3)