La Boca, an illustration studio based in Amsterdam and London, has designed a new four-volume book collection that celebrates short stories by Philip K. Dick.
The collection is the result of a partnership between the late author’s estate and illustrated book publisher The Folio Society and features all of his 118 short stories. The project was directed by Raquel Leis Allion and Sheri Gee.
La Boca has already worked with the publisher. Publishing director Tom Walker explains that the studio has a “left-field approach” that is “conceptual, experimental and graphic.” La Boca says his team is “not averse to a bit of weirdness and abstraction,” making them a good choice to design the famed sci-fi writer’s collection.
“Deeply paranoid and strangely joyful”
Born in Chicago in 1928, Dick began his affinity with the science fiction genre as a child. An introductory essay by American writer Jonathan Lethem celebrates the author’s “deeply paranoid and strangely joyful” stories, all of which are “lovingly constructed” with the building blocks of the science fiction genre.
These worlds are the main source of inspiration for the design of the collection, according to The Folio Society. The four-volume collection is bound in four equally vibrant colors: yellow, green, pink and blue.
Each book features a selection of abstract graphics that indicate the order in which they should be read. The first book shows a circle – drawn, of course, with a single line; the second has a plus sign or a cross drawn with two lines, and so on. according to the editors, this is one of the “dizzying range” of special features in the design of the collection.
“In designing the book, we felt that Philip K. Dick required a totally new approach, as one of the great counterculture figures of the 20th century,” says Walker.
“Coordinated in a fabulous fluorescent rainbow”
In addition to the book covers, La Boca also designed the two-part box in which the collection comes. The inside of this box is another nod to Dick’s favorite genre.
The top of the box is lined with a specially designed paper with a multicolored glitch pattern, which the publisher says was generated from the words Folio S and La Boca.
The lower part is lined with a paper representing a starry night sky. The team says this is a reference to the author’s “fascination with space travel and technology”.
“Every aspect of this production was crafted with care and consideration for the groundbreaking nature of Dick’s work,” says The Folio Society. “Bindings, flyleaves, title pages, page edges – even ribbon markers – are color-coordinated in a fabulous fluorescent rainbow.”
“A step into a new world”
The variety of illustrators in the book should reflect the variety of Dick’s writing, according to Walker.
“Philip K. Dick’s writing is extraordinarily varied, from pulp science fiction to psychological paranoia to a kind of folk Americana and to approximate this range we commissioned 24 different illustrators from around the world” , explains Walker. “We intentionally approached artists working both inside and outside the SFF genre, and the stylistic range is enormous: from oils to digital, abstract to figurative – and the artworks that results breathe new life into these incredible stories.”
We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, the short story that inspired the 1990 film Total Recall, was illustrated by Katherine Lam, for example. Lam’s work features a minimalist design with a limited color palette throughout, but the name of the infamous Rekal Incorporation appears in bright rainbow letters.
Meanwhile, The Minority Report, the story from which the 2002 film Tom Cruise is based, was illustrated by Dave McKean. It represents the three human mutants who predict all future crimes.
Six illustrations are found in each volume, each offering a different style, medium and approach, depending on the publisher. The Folio Society claims that “each work of art is a step into a new world” and that the whole experience is a “visual feast”.
The Complete Short Stories collection is a limited edition boxed set of 750 available, with an introduction by Jonathan Lethem and illustrations by 24 artists. It can be purchased from The Folio Society website.