Porto Rocha was invited by design studio No Ideas to design the cover of Jodi Dean’s political essay Comrade, a recent publication by Verso Books. As stated by Dean: “To be a comrade is to announce a belonging.” In this way, the book interrogates and contemplates the politically charged term and its connotations in society today. Moving away from twentieth century conceptions and revolutionary tradition, the modern comrade now shifts toward a notion of allyship as individuals prioritize political belonging over a more abstract political identity.
“Publicly declaring one’s stance” is key to the comrade, informing the studio’s assertive, brutalist approach to the cover which instantly commands attention. Dean’s comrade is inherently divisive, creating space between “us and them.” To further define these boundaries, we removed the author’s name from the cover, instead allowing the word “comrade” to occupy every printable inch available.
205TF’s homage to French road signs,Plaak is used in its 21B–Sathonay–LightB style for the cover. The pronounced, blocky typography draws inspiration from Russian Constructivism, a movement instrumental in shaping the graphic style associated with the political comrade. Unable to be ignored on a shelf, the cover’s visceral design creates a lasting impact by using a communication strategy reminiscent of earlier propaganda, fusing old and new. The unapologetic, all-red typography against a stark white stock further announces not only a belonging, but perhaps a more recent arrival: the contemporary comrade himself.