aren't jackets designed and released closer to the book publication date?
No - jackets (or at least concepts for jackets) are usually the first thing produced, so that the publisher can carry out preliminary marketing to the trade. Catalogues are prepared to maximise the time in which sales people can solicit orders at book fairs and events; thus publishers will produce "dummies", which are often no more than blank pages cut to size, with an ink-jet printed version of a cover concept wrapped round it, so that it can be photographed, or sat in a display so that buyers for bookshops can see it. Much of this will even be carried out on the computer these days - a physical "model" need not even be made, if it isn't to be exhibited anywhere.
It's very often at this stage that the publisher will get feed-back from the trade, which might influence the design, so the cover very often changes before it is finally released.
The "subject to change" warning is to prevent there being any sort of dispute if a trade buyer finds that the book he recieves is different to the one he saw months before.
An example of this closer to home is that at some point a dummy cover was produced showing the title Tintin and the Broken Ear
, which has appeared on the back of the albums, and been used for publisher's lists and to sell the book on line for many years, even although the book has (as far as can be told) only ever carried the words The Broken Ear
on the cover (although Tintin and the Broken Ear
may have been used on the spine.
Mr. Thompson had bee diagnosed with cancer in February or March and had taken leave of absence from Fantagraphics in March 2013.
This line of enquiry is border-line unacceptable as it is becoming very intrusive and insensitive, and should end here - it really isn't up to us to discuss the health issues and work-load of anyone, especially someone who has died.
Suffice it to say that we can't and shouldn't speculate as to how ill Mr. Thompson may have been prior to his diagnosis, we can't say at what stage the production of the book was, nor is it our place to do so.
Please bear in mind that this is a public forum, which could be read by friends, colleagues and family members, so it isn't nice to make it seem that the publication of a book is more important than their loss.
If the book is to come out, it will come out, and it is pointless to keep on in this manner.
the most concrete and tangible consequence of his death will be to cut back—but by no means eliminate—our European line
Thanks for the update, George.
As mentioned above, we will just have to wait and see.