Library Goes 'Miami Vice' in New Poster

Times Staff Writer

The lettering on the poster is hot pink and cool blue on a black background, and it pictures an ocean setting with a blond young man dressed a la actor Don Johnson, in a white sport coat, black T-shirt and shades.

The poster's eye-catching look and colors are distinctly "Miami Vice," but the setting is pure Orange County: palm tree-lined Corona del Mar State Park overlooking Newport Harbor and the Balboa Peninsula.

The poster is in stark contrast with the traditionally staid image of the organization it is publicizing. "Orange County Public Library," the poster reads in stylized block lettering. Then, in fancy script it says: "My Kind of Place," and it is signed, "T. Jefferson Parker." He's the man in the shades, and he's holding his first novel, "Laguna Heat."

First Poster

The poster--a first for the Orange County Public Library--clearly succeeds in doing what its creators set out to do.

"We wanted to do something really different and splashy for National Library Week," explained Cheryl Pruett, the library's community relations coordinator, who collaborated on producing the poster with Lynn Elms, the library's graphic artist, and photographer John Pearson, the library's audio visual specialist.

National Library Week, which began Sunday, is sponsored by the American Library Assn. in order "to promote libraries and tell people what we have to offer," Pruett said.

The poster is now on display at all 25 branches of the Orange County Public Library, in addition to being posted in several bookstores and shopping centers around the county, including South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and the City Shopping Center in Orange.

Judging by early unsolicited reviews, the library's first poster production appears to be a hit.

"I've had so many people comment on it and say it's terrific," said Elizabeth Martinez Smith, director of the Orange County Public Library. "I think it reflects our image of ourselves: all the good life here in Orange County. And libraries are part of the good life."

According to Pruett, the library has been receiving numerous requests for copies of the poster. One thousand copies have been printed and, she said, "if someone requested one, we'd be glad to give them one." Pruett said the library also has produced bookmarkers that feature a smaller version of the poster.

The promotion is the first of what the library plans as an annual series of posters featuring a different Orange County author each year.

"We just feel they should be recognized," Pruett said. "We haven't decided yet who the next one will be, but we have a long list of authors to choose from."

Pruett and company didn't have any difficulty deciding on the author for the first poster, however.

Right Author

Parker, apparently, was the right author at the right time. His novel, "Laguna Heat," is a murder mystery set in Orange County, and since it was published last summer by St. Martin's Press, it has generated considerable publicity for the Laguna Beach-based author.

Pruett said the idea for the poster came up last December when she and graphic artist Elms were discussing "what special thing we could do for National Library Week."

"He (Elms) said he'd like to do a six-color poster, which we had never done before," recalled Pruett. "I had the concept of the 'Miami Vice' theme and colors, and he (Parker) came to mind right away. His book got so much publicity and was such a hot item for a first book. And, looks-wise, he (Parker) fit the image--that casual California look."

Besides, said Pruett, who is in the same writers' group as Parker, "he was willing."

Ocean and Palm Tree

After searching for a location that "not only showed the ocean but a palm tree at the right angle," Pruett said the photograph for the poster was shot under cloudy skies one morning in February at Corona del Mar State Park.

"The clouds weren't totally cooperating," recalled Pruett. "We wanted a little more blue sky, and we had to keep waiting for the clouds to get out of the way."

At one point, a gardener riding a lawn-mower had to be held at bay while they finished the shoot but "otherwise, it went real smoothly," Pruett said. As for Parker, she added, "he was a good sport."

Parker, who is working full time on his second novel, appears to be having fun as the Orange County Public Library's first poster author.

"I didn't really know what to expect," he said. "Cheryl was being typically understated about the whole thing. But then I saw the poster and realized what an elaborate production it was. I was quite impressed."

Parker sent a copy of the poster to his mother in Northern California and, he said, "She was pretty tickled . . . ."

Mixed Reactions

He has, however, received mixed reactions from his friends.

"Most of my friends come over and start laughing: They can't believe I'm on a poster," Parker said. "My friend (author) Don Stanwood said I look like a drug dealer. Some other friends said I look like a cop. My neighbor Sal said I just look like a jerk like I always do."

Although Parker said a copy of the poster is "sitting on a chair right now," he plans to have it framed.

"It's awfully flattering," he said "It really is an honor to be on that poster, and I hope it helps bring some attention to (libraries)."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World