Paul Bacon, Legendary Book Designer, Dies at 91

Paul Bacon, after an incredible career of more than 50 years, passed away in his Fishkill, NY home on Monday at age 91. Many of his 6,500 book cover designs are instantly recognizable and often iconic, including Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Peter Benchley’s Jaws.

According to the New York Times, Bacon pioneered the design style known as “The Big Book Look” — bold and minimalist, featuring prominent lettering and a small conceptual image. His designs were all created by hand.

His career flourished following World War 2, where he’d served in China, Guam, and Guadalcanal. Bacon designed his first cover for Bill Westley’s Chimp On My Shoulder, published in 1950, and designed his last cover for Lindsay Hill’s Sea of Hooks, published in 2013.

When he wasn’t designing book covers, Bacon played in a jazz band and designed jazz album covers.

catch 22 cover
Jawspaulbacon
jaws cover
OneFlewOverTheCuckoosNest
NormanMailer
Zenart
saintjack
tumblr_lih9i0X5px1qi82mko1_500
Portnoyscomplaint

About the Author

More Like This

16 Book Covers as Rihanna Outfits

The book industry has gone full RiRi and we have proof

Jun 28 - Angeline Rodriguez

T Fleischmann Explores the Murky Relationships That Make Us Who We Are

"Time Is the Thing the Body Moves Through" is a book-length meditation on the indefinable things that define us

Jun 4 - John Elizabeth Stintzi