Rocky Stories

Book cover & interior design

rocky steps book cover

Paul Dry Books

Art direction:
Dermot Mac Cormack

Dermot Mac Cormack
Patricia McElroy

Tom Gralish

Michael Vitez
Sylvester Stallone

Pulitzer Prize-winners Michael Vitez and Tom Gralish spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture these stories of “Rocky runners,” who come from all over the world to run up, what is possibly America’s most famous steps—just as Sylvester Stallone did in Rocky. People make the pilgrimage to mark a new beginning, to seek inspiration, to celebrate an accomplishment, to find the perfect backdrop for romance, or simply because they love the movie. As one runner says, “It gives you the feeling that anything is possible.”

Working with the photographer and writer on this project was a great experience. Having all this wonderful content was a treasure trove of imagery to work with, but it also provided a challenge to give it, and the book, a cohesive visual structure. We ended up breaking the book into the four seasons, to give it a framework with which to hold the photography and the writing together in a coherent whole. 

In his introduction, Michael Vitez writes: “The movie premiered in 1976, thirty years ago, yet they still come—a high-school track team from Belfast, three busloads of professional wrestling fans from Australia, a college rower from Maine, a librarian and her fiancé from Lake Tahoe, a race car driver (he ran the steps for good luck)…The story of Rocky inspired them, stirred them.”

“The extent to which the Rocky myth has resonated is documented in this winning book…each story is engaging.”
Sports Illustrated

“The result is a delight, a thrill, a gas: a kind of art experiment completed by ordinary people.”
— Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly

Publication Design

Cover Design