Sorry about the lack of BLACK JACK posting- so much work to do, so little time. And this post is nothing to get excited about either: I am simply checking in to announce that all future updates on the BLACK JACK front, are going to be seen here, back at my old Jacket Mechanical Blog. It's just easier for me that way. Thanks all.

PS Abrian has begun the arduous design process on BLACK JACK 12 and I will be updating on that over yonder soon.




The Prize Winners!

Ok people. It's all over! The winners have been chosen- though, it must be said, narrowing it down was (truly) painful. There were just so many great entries. The judging crew was gobsmacked by the beauty and variety of your work. So: terrific job everyone. As I said early on, I'm going to try and find a way to acknowledge as many of you as possible in one way or another. More on this as I figure it out.

The judging crew:

Barbara DeWilde
, Helen Yentus, and Jason Booher did most of the heavy lifting here. They were incredibly professional, meticulous, thoughtful, and patient. Additional support from Yani Mentzas of Vertical Press was crucial, as was the keen eye of Knopf creative director Carol Carson. Eventually, everyone in my department here weighed in- so thanks as well to Chip Kidd and Brian Barth- especially to Brian, who kept sneakily pulling entries out of the "rejects" pile and adding them to the finalist pile, in order to broaden our thinking, and, frankly, also to mess with our heads.

I was acting as independent monitor, peace-keeper, and parameter-setter; and I was diligent about not influencing the outcome (as I knew in advance who had sent in which entry). Strangely, the judges eventually picked five (of the seven) entries I had secretly chosen as my personal favorites. This just goes to show you that perhaps color-sense is not so subjective after all.

In any case, the criteria used for judging was primarily: "does this entry look good;" followed by "does this entry fit into the series;" followed in turn by "does this entry stand out
just enough from the series." There were some interesting and profitable discussions about designs that were eliminated because they "looked too much like something that Peter Mendelsund would do," a category which I didn't know existed, and was furthermore surprised to discover constitutes a less-than-desirable thing in this context. The judges clearly were looking for an entry that was innovative, colorful and, most importantly, unique without being totally off the reservation.


But now- on to the winners...

There was one grand prize awarded, and three second prizes, as well as two third place finishers and an honorable mention. So here they are!

.........FIRST PLACE

Grand Prize winner is Abrian
Curington! We all went nuts for this. It is just perfect. The colors, the balance, the subtle deviation from the assignment, the way the flaps come forward and recede, the dimensionality of the thing...there is just not enough nice things one can say about this. It is the winner- so congrats Abrian!

As a side-note, there were many professional illustrators, art directors and designers of note who entered this competition- I was pleasantly surprised that the winner (and indeed, MANY of the winners) were/was someone I had never heard of- in fact, Abrian
was so much of an outsider she was not entirely easy to track down! But track her down I did.

is 20 years old and self-taught. She's going into her junior year at Western Washington University where she has just entered the Studio Art program. So this year marks the beginning of her formal art training. She will also be graduating with a Japanese minor and a Classical studies minor. We've spoken on the phone- and she's smart and charming, and I couldn't be happier. So she and I will be working together on designing this next Black Jack. And I'll be posting our progress here on this site- as well as, eventually, a link to her illustration work. She'll also be getting all the Black Jack Books and the Dororos, and a couple of extra books as well...Congrats Abrian!


Now on to the Second Prize Winners (who will all be receiving the complete Black Jack Series)

This, by Matt Dorfman
. You all have seen his work frequently in the New York Times where he has done numerous beautiful op-ed and book review illustrations. He has also done some very pretty book work for Penguin and music packaging for Motown and other record labels. Furthermore, he is showing up at my office in the next ten minutes to receive his books in person! Look forward to meeting you sir. The judges gravitated towards his comp instantly. (fyi, all illustrations were removed from the entries when judged, lest you think the art is what sold us). The colors here are spectacular- and we all loved how Matt subtly divided the field in half- while simultaneously respecting the idea of different quarters of color.


This from Courtney Baker. The judges put this entry in the "happy" pile at once. It was one of the very first entries to be deemed a finalist. It was the only entry that made this particular move with the flap color, and it did so with incredible elan. As with Matt's entry above, there was discussion about whether this one should win the whole shebang, and it very well could have. I've asked Courtney to say a little something about herself:

"I am a book designer at the University of North Carolina Press in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We publish books on a wide range of topics, with many of our titles relating to the Civil War, the American South, Latin American studies, and African American history. I design both jackets and interiors, but I definitely prefer working on jackets. I’ve
always had a penchant for color and pattern, and I accidentally wound up with a BFA in studio art with a design concentration after a failed attempt at becoming a physical therapist! I have been at UNC Press for about a year and a half, and I still have a lot to learn about book design and typography.

I live in the historic district of a small town in North Carolina with my husband, Caleb, our dog, Grace, and our cat, Picasso. Our house is over one hundred years old, so restoring, renovating, and decorating it is an ongoing project. My color entry was inspired by the salmon-pink velvet sofa in our parlor, which is especially beautiful when the sunlight pours in through our windows!" Congrats Courtney.


Sarah Gladwell
. Lovely. The colors are just glorious, and it harmonized beautifully with the series whilst still standing apart. I haven't been able to reach Sarah yet- so Sarah, if you're out there- shoot me a line! (Update- Sarah is a graphic designer in New Zealand who does, just, like, amazing work: InHouse Studio)

Now to the Third Place finishers (who will get the Black Jack's we've printed thus far- which is Volumes 1 through 7)

.........THIRD PLACE

This from Mr. Hollis Duncan: "I'm a graphic designer based in Barcelona. I began my career in New York working for Paula Scher
at Pentagram. I studied graphic design at Portfolio Center. I fell in love with books while an undergraduate at Sewanee: The University of the South. What I share in common with John Gall is: my first job was at Landor Associates (I was a corporate identity designer; John worked in packaging I believe) I've been working for myself for one year ... I design everything print: book covers, posters, identity systems and logos, editorial illustrations, packaging, ephemera. A highlight of last year was doing a photo illustration for Nicholas Blechman at the NYT Book Review."

So it seems Nicholas has already hired TWO of our Black Jack winners. He must be prescient.

As I mentioned- I will be posting portfolio info from these designers in time. So keep tuning in!

.........THIRD PLACE

From Krista Joy Johnson- who I am dying to know more about- particularly because she was one of those wonderful designers assigned the "too much like Peter Mendelsund
" cross to bear. I drooled over this comp, but, of course, I would, as it is evidently the kind of thing I would design myself. Congratulations Krista! (Update:Krista wrote in- She works for Sourcebooks publishers in Naperville, IL. And we really must share some color-choice DNA, because she tells me she never looked at my other covers in the series. Awesome. Nice to meetcha Krista.)


This particular comp was the exemplar of all rule-breakers. It easily could have swept the competition, but was deemed just too freaking different from the rest of the books to ever successfully be subsumed into the series. Nevertheless- it needs saying: this is awesome. Helen Yentus
said to me of this one: "could I just use this design on one of MY forthcoming books?" A sentiment we all shared. You sir, are a talent.

This from...drumroll...Ian Shimkoviak
: Book-blogger and designer extraordinaire! Remember, this process was anonymous- and I find it immensely satisfying that given this fact, Ian should have been chosen out of the 932 we looked at. It's NOT surprising really, as, he is someone who thinks deeply about book design, yet, the odds of anyone who I had actually heard of making the final cut were very slim. So, congrats Ian, and, as I haven't exactly figured out what the "Honorable Mention" prize is, I'll be in touch. What I'm hoping is that I still have enough of these books to give, and I'm pretty sure I do- So I'll need an address...

.........THE REST

I will continue to blog about the other entries I have received; the entries that were eliminated for a variety of reasons both arbitrary and reasoned, but which were all, on one level or another, wonderful. So keep tuning in. There will also be more about our winners, and an ongoing discussion of color and process, as Abrian
and I work on our joint-venture Black Jack design. So don't go away! There's more still to come.

Thank you all ever so much,



The winners (1 grand-prize winner, 3 second place winners, 2 third place winners, and a couple of honorable mentions) will be announced here tomorrow, Monday the 14th, at some point during the day. Thank you all for your patience! We're almost there.


Judging Round 1

No major announcements yet. But just so you don't think we are sitting around twiddling our thumbs: the judging of The Black Jacket Mechanical contest is under way! We have already sorted through the first two rounds of eliminations, and have winnowed the selection down from the close-to-a-thousand entries received, to about fifty, and then down to about ten or so. The judges are going to convene again tomorrow to determine a final cut. At some point after that, (and before Monday) there will be a palaver with Vertical Press, then I'll post the winners, along with an in-depth look into the process used by the judges (as a teaser, I will say that our already all-star judging panel was enlarged further to handle the volume of material). (N.B. if you do not see your comp amongst these particular photos, it does not mean that your comp didn't make the final cut. I only snapped these pics during one ten minute period of the judging. So fear not!)

The existing volumes were used as a reference...

As you can see- we cut out the middle and top panels of your palettes, to see how they worked with different pieces of art...

More soon,


That's all folks!

We've reached the deadline! No more submissions will be considered. Tune in here for updates. As I mentioned below, I am expecting the judging to take a week or so. I will keep you posted as often as possible. My sincerest, most heartfelt thanks to one and all!


Monday morning is the last moment for submissions. Nothing past 12:00 noon tomorrow.

Also: the judging will take approximately one week. If everything goes according to plan, I expect to have the process completed by the following Monday the 14th (Barbara DeWilde's, Yani Menztas' and Helen Yentus' schedules permitting) But, in case we get it done sooner (and we very well might), be sure to check in here periodically because here is where the results, and other info, will be posted.

Incidentally, this Monday, the competition's deadline, marks, exactly, the one year anniversary of the Jacket Mechanical blog. So- huzzah, mazel tov, excelsior, lhude sing cuccu, etc.

If I have not had a chance to post your submissions (and there are tons of these beautiful Black Jacks languishing un-posted) it emphatically DOES NOT MEAN it will not be considered in the judging. It just means, for lack of time I was unable to format it for the web. The ones that have been posted thus far are not necessarily odds-on favorites. The posting process has been fairly random. The judging will not be. I have printed all of the submissions out and numbered them. The process will be fair, and anonymous.

Finally- it cannot be said enough: thank you all so much for making these, sending these, and being, generally speaking, awesome.




(Though, I would really prefer if you didn't wait that long)

Thank you all for your boundless enthusiasm and ingenuity!