First of 2076 : inaugurating the Special Police Series

Jean Bruce


With thanks to Didier Poiret

This novel by Jean Bruce is the first book published in the famous “Spécial Police” series by Fleuve Noir. It was published in Paris in August 1949 some four years after the launch of the Série Noire by Gallimard, of which it would be a strong competitor, albeit with a different model (publishing French authors rather than Americans in French translations) and targeting a much broader readership. While the Série Noire celebrates its 70th birthday this year, Spécial Police was discontinued in 1987. By then, it had published 2076 novels, from 155 authors. The illustrator of the cover reproduced above was artist Michel Gourdon, who would illustrate some 3000 covers in the series (including re-editions). Gourdon, as the illustrator of all the original covers from the first  (above)  to No 1402, gave the Series its distinctive flair and largely contributed to its success.

Snapshots of San-Antonio

San Antonio Poster 1

(With thanks to Owen Fenton)

Ostensibly, the  Art on the covers of San-Antonio paperback books captures moments in time. The 1950’s and 1960’s illustrations by famous artist Michel Gourdon (1925-2011) are archive images of these distant times.  They look even more distant in Owen Fenton’s  collage.  There, masked liked diapositives, framed like Kodak photographs,  they form the  rough shape of a representation of the United States reminiscent of Jasper Jones.   They are precisely composed candid photographs of the myths and archetypes of their epoch,  ideologically charged celebrations of the  consumers society. If  they are magic for us now, it is for  their ability to  re-present a past that never truly existed, outside of them.