The Paris-based graphic designer Jean-Philippe Bretin recently completed a design project that he was “delighted to work on” because it involved redesigning Yuichi Yokoyama’s graphic novel, Outdoors. Published by Breakdown Press, the manga tale exemplifies Yuichi’s reputation as one of the most innovative avant-garde manga artists around, illustrating futuristic narratives with a punchy aesthetic to match.
Jean-Philippe tells It’s Nice That, “For me, Yuichi is the most unique comic book author of the last ten years. He’s an artist who has really made graphic narration evolve, influencing a lot of young authors around the world.” The graphic designer has been lucky enough to work with Yuichi on previous projects. As co-founder of the arts publication Collection Revue, Jean-Philippe interviewed Yuichi back in 2011 for one of its earliest issues.
To design a layout for Yuichi, whose work is already so full of bold vivacity, proved a challenge for Jean-Philippe. He researched previous cover designs for his other publications, including Kazunari Hattori’s cover for Room which focused on “simple and powerful typographic compositions”, drawing out the pictorial qualities of Kanji. He also studied Yuichi’s éditions Matière which uses skilfully coloured extracts from Yuichi’s illustrations over the past ten years.
Alternatively, Jean-Philippe utilises the “raw content” of the comic artist’s powerful visuals to inform his cover design. Experimenting with different design tones to play on the book’s materials, his final design consists of a book jacket that complimentarily sits against the jade green, typographic cover. “The cover of Outdoors plays with some recurring elements seen throughout other manga covers” says Jean-Philippe. While it features a shiny dust jacket and dense text, each element has in fact had, a shift in format.
On the subject, the designer adds, “The title is not centred on the spine, it is partly covered on the cover, the drawings overflow and all the other visual elements require action by the reader to reveal themselves completely.” By contract, “the inside is more sober, basically Akzidenz Grotesque in a large body, really banal for a catalogue of contemporary art, quite rare for a comic book."
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.