Thursday, December 01, 2011

Catchy Covers

Malaysian publisher AMIR MUHAMMAD reveals the inspiration behind the bold eye-catching covers of his new imprint, Fixi

WHEN I STARTED a new book imprint, Fixi, for urban Malay pulp fiction, I knew I wanted the books to look bold and distinctive. This is because pulp fiction needs lurid, catchy covers.

My immediate inspiration for the covers was the Vintage Black Lizard label. I bought many of its books in the 1990s, especially its reprints of titles by my favourite crime writer, Jim Thompson. They all had posed, moody black-and-white photos of people, overlaid by the titles and author names in bold strips of colour.

So I knew I wanted photographs and bold colors and one-word titles. This goes against the trend of Malay fiction, which normally has illustrations in pastels. These are how the first seven covers came about; they are all designed by Teck Hee.

Author: Khairulnizam Bakeri
Photographer: Danny Lim
This is inspired by the very first scene of Pecah, which is a bank heist conducted by men who cover their faces in purdah. Since the story has many flashbacks which gradually reveal the truth about what’s going on, the purdah is kept here as a metaphor for concealment. Also, the gun is to indicate the crime genre. Along the way, we were also inspired by the poster for the Robert Rodriguez movie Desperado.

Author: Shaz Johar
Photographer: Danny Lim
Kougar is about a 40-year-old woman who has a thing for younger men. So the idea of appetite needed to be there. There is a scene where the protagonist Kisha eats an ice-cream sundae, so we tried to mock it up. But we ended up cropping out most of the sundae (you see some cream) to concentrate on the face.

Author: Ridhwan Saidi
Photographer: Danny Lim
Cekik is a postmodern, trippy kind of book totally unlike anything I have read by a Malaysian. The protagonist is a teenage boy who has a fetish for necks, and whose views on life are perhaps formed by his early experiences of watching porn. The idea of a woman strangled by VHS tape gets to the kinkiness right away, as does the effect of the image being ‘stuck’ in a film projector.

Author: Affifudin Omar
Photographer: Pang Khee Teik
Dendam is a tale of corruption and ambition in business and politics. The protagonist Khalil Gibran has a base in KLCC, so we wanted to use the towers as the backdrop. The initial idea was to have just the towers (like Salman Rushdie’s Fury) but it was decided that having a model worked better. Having the face subtly ‘sliced’ in two is also meant to show the distortion of his worldview.

Author: Saifullizan Tahir
Photographer: Pang Khee Teik
Kasino is about a businessman who enjoys the finer things in life such as wine, women and the baccarat table. We wanted to convey unapologetic decadence. My initial idea involving a champagne glass didn’t work, so Pang suggested burning money! Luckily my RM100 notes weren’t really burned, just mildly singed.

Author: Dayang Noor
Photographer: Nik Adam Ahmad
Jerat is a thriller set in the IT world. The protagonist is a woman who has lost her memory. This took quite a while to conceptualise because I wanted the cover to convey both the vulnerability of her amnesiac condition as well as the IT backdrop. Hence the final decision to have the model ‘mummified’ by computer cables.

Author: Gina Yap Lai Yoong
Photographer: Nik Adam Ahmad

Ngeri is a college thriller about a serial killer who has difficulty distinguishing between movie fiction and murderous reality. This also went through many drafts because we did not want to give too much of the plot away, such as the gender of the murderer (or even the victims). So we decided on something as iconic as a movie teaser poster, where we are told that, yes, there will be blood.

More information on Fixi titles can be found at
Reproduced from the October-December 2011 issue of Quill magazine


Blogger Gregory McCormick said...

Wow, these are very unique covers from my point of view, almost like crime magazines. I wrote a piece on book covers, too:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 7:58:00 AM  
Blogger Eric Forbes said...

Thanks, Gregory! Enjoyed reading your blog!

Thursday, November 24, 2011 5:07:00 AM  
Blogger Amir Muhammad said...


Thursday, November 24, 2011 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger John Ling said...

Hands down, Amir is Malaysia's most exciting publisher at the moment, and it's great to see him put such a creative spin on his book covers. Iconic is the word. ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 12:17:00 PM  

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