Thursday, January 7, 2010

The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich

A few years ago I worked on this title for PublicAffairs. This is an incredible story written by Sonia's son. From Booklist:

Reich's Jewish mother lived in the town of Dubno, Poland, as a child. In 1941, when she was 11, she began a four-year journey of running and hiding from the Nazis, coming to the U.S. when she was 16. She worked in candy and clothing factories in Chicago and met the author's father, a survivor of a death march to Buchenwald, on a blind date. On February 15, 2001, when she was living in Skokie, Illinois, she packed some clothes in two shopping bags and fled, believing that someone was trying to kill her, "to put a bullet in my head." She was diagnosed as having late-onset post-traumatic stress disorder, was admitted to a psychiatric ward, and then to an assisted-living facility.

From the author:
"In the midst of my mother's stunning soliloquy of rage and delusion, of anger and fear and accusation," Reich writes, "I finally, belatedly, incredibly realized that this was all about the war, and what awful things must have happened to my mother when she was a child, pursued because she was a Jew."

This was obviously a very moving, disturbing story. The author provided a wealth of photographs of Sonia, though at first we weren't sure if we would use them.

From the first comps (which used a different title at the time) I was taken with the idea of ghosts from the past coming back to haunt Sonia. For this comp, I used a chair with the ghostly image of Sonia as a child overlaying it.

I also created an all type version:

With a title change (so that it wouldn't be put in the Holocaust memoir section), we also changed directions. This time we went with a film reel, the idea of images replaying over and over in Sonia's mind:

From there, the direction was to go back to something more thoughtful, so I merged these photos to create a woman (not Sonia) in front of a window. Still using that ghostly effect:

In the end we did some photo layering again, but this time with Sonia as an adult over a desolate, beautiful landscape image:

I had liked above how the type worked with the image, out of focus and moving, but I was asked to go back to a more straightforward treatment. Final is below:


Ian Shimkoviak said...

always enjoy the trajectory with your comps. they start off decent and end up fab... i like the type on the alternate of the final too. something unsettling about it.

Courtney Baker said...

I think the final is really nice--but I do hate the didn't let you use the darker/out of focus type treatment! It's so eye catching. I love seeing the evolution of your designs! Each comp is so lovely, and so different!

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angela said...

I liked your stronger photoshopped type--but the end result is perfectly lovely, too. The assignment reminds me of a book jacket I worked on about a WWII jewish army brigade which totally got killed. I saved this art I did-- in case I ever get another WWII jewish army brigade book job HA!

angela said...

I meant the jacket got killed! I don't really know how the soldiers fared...

K. Glyder said...

Angela, that's a beautiful piece of artwork....definitely worth reusing!!