Maigret Part 3: Zwarte Beertjes Maigret by Dick Bruna
Best known for having created Miffy, the loveable bunny rabbit, Dick Bruna is also responible for some of the snazziest paperback cover designs in the history of publishing. Working for his family’s publishing firm in the 1960s, he designed hundreds of emblematic covers for the Zwarte Beertjes (translation: Black Bears) crime imprint. Presented below is a selection of some of my favourite covers that he designed for the Dutch editions of Maigret from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.
Notice the branding, with the (nearly) omnipresent pipe and bear identifying the series and imprint respectively.
In 2004, Koichi Yanagimoto compiled what appears to be a complete illustrated catalogue of Bruna’s work for Zwarte Beertjes (front and back covers below), including novels from other series including The Saint, OSS 117, De Schaduw and Francis Coplan. It would seem that this book is out of print, so if anyone knows where I might find a copy I would be much obliged.
More of his Simenon covers can be found online at BoekenWebsite and De Boekenplank, and many more cover images from all series at utrecht.jp and The World of Kane. There have also been Dick Bruna exhibitions held in Tokyo, Rotterdam and Britain (Manchester, Newcastle, London, Edinburgh), and there’s now a Dick Bruna Museum in his hometown of Utrecht.
That’s all well and good, but the best way to satisfy one’s appetite for Dick Bruna book design must surely be Retrobook, a website which will sell you an original, vintage Dick Bruna designed Zwarte Beertjes paperback for only EUR 5.00 a pop. Brilliant!