Dick Bruna book covers:
O.S.S. 117

Iconic covers designed for a series of detective novels

Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers

AVONTUUR IN BIRMA
Le sbire de Birmanie, 1962

Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers
  • O.S.S. 117 HOUDT VOL
    O.S.S. 117 rentre dans la danse, 1961
  • O.S.S. 117 EN DE CHINEZEN
    Chinoiseries pour O.S.S. 117, 1962
Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers
  • TOPCONFERENTIE
    Les secrets font la valise, 1962
  • AVONTUUR IN BIRMA
    Le sbire de Birmanie, 1962
Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers

SCHOTEN VALLEN IN BANGKOK
Double bang à Bangkok, 1964

Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers
  • VOL GAS VOOR O.S.S. 117
    Plein gaz pour O.S.S. 117, 1962
  • O.S.S. 117 IN AMSTERDAM
    Strip-tease pour O.S.S. 117, 1962
Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers
  • O.S.S. 117 OP ONBEKEND TERREIN
    Cache cache au cachemir, 1963
  • PANIEK OP WAKE
    Panique à Wake, 1964
Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers

ONHEIL UIT CALCUTTA
Lila de Calcutta, 1964

Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers
  • O.S.S. 117 IN DE KOU
    Tactique arctique, 1965
  • O.S.S. 117 TE WAPEN
    Alertre, 1965
Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers
  • O.S.S. 117 SPEELT HOOG SPEL
    O.S.S. 117 joue le jeu, 1965
  • O.S.S. 117 PLEEGT VERRAAD
    Vous-avez trahi, 1965
Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers

O.S.S. 117 IN TOKIO
A tout cɶur a Tokyo, 1968

Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers
  • EN DE MONSTERS VAN HOLY LOCH
    Les monstres du Holy Loch, 1966
  • O.S.S. 117 IN HET NAUW
    Angoisse pour O.S.S. 117, 1966
Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers
  • KORTE METTEN IN MANILLA
    Partie de Manille pour O.S.S. 117, 1968
  • O.S.S. 117 ZIET SPOKEN
    Les marrons du feu, 1968
Dick Bruna O.S.S. 117 book covers

OP HETE KOLEN IN POLEN
Affire No. I, 1968

Dick Bruna book covers

There’s been some debate about copying and stealing design work lately (thanks to Jessica Hische’s Inspiration vs. Imitation). The line between ‘being inspired by’ and ‘stealing from’ can be pretty thin. But sometimes it’s just a matter of design conventions. Every decade has it’s design conventions. During the 1910s/1920s almost every car manufacturer logo had a tail. During the 1950s almost all logos from department stores were handlettered. The same goes for chrome scripts on cars. A couple of years ago all “2.0” websites contained glossy buttons and gradients.

I’m pretty sure some of you who see the images above will instantly say: “Saul Bass ripoff!” The image below shows there are indeed similarities between Dick Bruna’s O.S.S. 117 character (late 1950s, early 1960s) and Saul Bass’ Anatomy of a murder (1959). But look at Bruna’s earlier work from the 1950s and you’ll see he used the same technique before. Did they steal from each other? Probably not. I’m not sure they were aware of each other’s work. There was no internet back then. Bass became quite famous during the 1950, but it’s hard to say how well known Bruna was at the time. Chances are if they saw each other’s work they would say: “Matisse ripoff!”

Dick Bruna

Dick Bruna (1927-  ) is best known for the creation of Nijntje (a.k.a. Miffy) children’s books. In total they have sold over 85 million copies. He also designed over 2,000 book covers during his prolific career. The O.S.S. 117 books were part of the Black Bear series. For every author Bruna created an icon, which appeared on multiple books so readers should want to collect them all.

O.S.S. 117 (Dick Bruna, late 1950s, early 1960s) vs. Anatomy of a murder (Saul Bass, 1959)