Friday, October 24, 2014

Month of McGinnis:
“The Avengers Battle the Earth-Wrecker”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

The Avengers Battle the Earth-Wrecker,
by Otto Binder (Bantam, 1967).

While this paperback original certainly deserves points for being the first Marvel Comics novel adaptation, it hardly wins universal respect. One critic grouses that “this tale would’ve been dated the day it was published.” Others have noted that “though [the characters] Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were pictured on the excellent cover, painted by noted paperback cover artist Robert McGinnis, they did not appear in the book.” Oops.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “A Choice of Assassins”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

A Choice of Assassins, by William P. McGivern (Bantam, 1964).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “The Wow Factor”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

The Wow Factor, by Robert Terrall (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1970).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “Assignment—Sorrento Siren”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

Assignment—Sorrento Siren, by Edward S. Aarons
(Gold Medal, 1963).

Art Scott writes in his forthcoming book, The Art of Robert E. McGinnis (Titan), that “McGinnis did a series of covers for the Sam Durell ‘Assignment’ spy series, beginning in the 1960s and ending in the mid-’70s. Most of the stories were set in foreign locales, allowing McGinnis to work interesting local color into the backdrops.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “Not Dead Yet”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

Not Dead Yet, by Daniel Banko (Gold Medal, 1972). This was a finalist for the 1973 Edgar Award for Best Paperback. Banko published only one more novel, 1975’s Very Dry with a Twist. He died in 1987.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “The Long Knife”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

The Long Knife, by Louis A. Brennan (Dell, 1960).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “The Young Marrieds”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

The Young Marrieds, by Judith Heiman (Crest, 1962).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “If the Shoe Fits”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

If the Shoe Fits, by Lee Roberts, aka Robert Martin (Crest, 1960).

When he supplied me recently with a scan of If the Shoe Fits, Art Scott, co-author of the forthcoming work The Art of Robert E. McGinnis (Titan), also sent along this note: “Years go, when putting together The Paperback Covers of Robert McGinnis [2001], Paul Langmuir (that book’s publisher and designer) and I noticed a gimmick that McGinnis often used. This is the first time he used it (1960); whether it was suggested by the book’s title, I have no idea. We called it the One Shoe Off gimmick (or motif, if you prefer). There are at least 24 One Shoe paperback covers, and it turns up in his magazine pieces, posters, and gallery nudes as well. You have already (unconsciously, I assume) selected two for the Month of McGinnis tribute [look for those here and here]. And of course the painting on the jacket of the new book (from Robert Kyle’s Kill Now, Pay Later) is another one.”

Without turning (too) obsessive about it, I managed to dig up another eight examples of this One Shoe Off motif from my collection of McGinnis book scans:

Spinning Around the Web

• “Peter Mendelsund estimates he’s designed ‘somewhere between 600 and 1,000 book covers,’ ranging from Crime and Punishment to [The] Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But the self-taught, sought-after designer says he spends a lot of time reading, too. ‘It’s always surprising to people when they come to my office or they walk by my door and they see me with my feet kicked up with a manuscript,’ he tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies. ‘But I read constantly from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep.’” You can listen to all of the interview with Mendelsund, who works for Alfred A. Knopf and Pantheon books, at the National Public Radio Web site. Also check out this other interview with him, from The New Yorker.

Showcasing Penguin’s “A” to “Z” series of classic novels.

• I guess that when you really get down to it, modern book-cover design can be for the birds. Note these examples of the theme.

• The James Bond-oriented blog Artistic License Renewed talks briefly with artist Bill Botton, whose “work is most recognizable from John Gardner’s Bond novels Icebreaker and For Special Services, as well as Christopher Wood’s Bond screenplay novelizations The Spy Who Loved Me and James Bond and Moonraker.”

• And ever since the first book jackets were created back in the 1830s, “with the sole purpose of protecting books during transport between the printer and the bookstore,” artists and designers have taken it as their charge to make them more beautiful. AbeBooks selects what it says are 30 of the best examples of the breed.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “Killer’s Payoff”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

Killer’s Payoff, by Ed McBain (Permabooks, 1962). McGinnis illustrated the fronts for a number of McBain paperbacks issued by Permabooks, including this one and this one.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “The Wrong Ones”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

The Wrong Ones, by James McKimmey (Dell, 1961).

Art Scott, who is the co-author--with McGinnis--of the forthcoming book The Art of Robert E. McGinnis (Titan), remarks: “I love the design of The Wrong Ones. It’s one of the more imaginative solutions to the ‘how to integrate text with image’ problem. I’ve seen the original, and it’s stunning. And I wonder whether it was deliberate by McGinnis, or maybe subliminal, in that it serves as a tribute to turn-of-the-century illustrator Coles Phillips, whose signature gimmick was ‘The Fadeaway Girl.’”

See Legs

Most loyal readers of this blog won’t notice, but occasionally I go back and modify older Killer Covers posts. This is usually done because since I started working on the blog, I’ve learned some useful lessons about sizing and standardizing cover images.

Recently, for instance, I refined the layout of a post about Michael Gillette’s James Bond novel fronts. And just yesterday, I put the finishing touches on an expansion and reworking of the layout for a piece I wrote back in 2010 about the focus on shapely women’s legs in older paperbacks. Originally, that post contained 40 pieces of cover art; now it boasts a whopping 58, many of which I have only discovered in the four and a half years since I put what I thought were the finishing touches to that post.

If you’d like to see what I have done, click here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “Epitaph for a Tramp”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

Epitaph for a Tramp, by David Markson (Dell, 1959). Two years later, Dell published a sequel, Epitaph for a Dead Beat, the front of which was also illustrated by McGinnis.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Month of McGinnis: Double Trouble

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

Art Scott, co-author of the forthcoming book The Art of Robert E. McGinnis (Titan), has sent along two pair of paperback fronts he thinks will be of interest to Killer Covers readers. He explains that publisher “Fawcett usually treated [Robert] McGinnis’ work respectfully, but here are two instances where ‘they done him wrong.’ Fortunately, foreign publishers sometimes showcased his work better than the original American publishers who commissioned the work did (and sometimes they did worse).

“The Crest reprint of [E.V.] Cunningham’s Sylvia is dated 1962. It’s a mystery; Virginia Kirkus herself [of Kirkus Reviews fame] blurbs it on the back as ‘Another Laura.’ [Cunningham, by the way, was a pseudonym often used by author Howard Fast.

Hennes Vata Grav comes from Sweden (or possibly Norway). Google translates it as Her (vata) Grave--not too helpful. I don’t have the book, so can’t tell you which of Bob McKnight’s dozen Ace originals this is; the titles don’t match up in any case.

Nothing in Her Way, [by Charles Williams], 1963, is a sore spot with McGinnis fans--either the [Gold Medal art director] thought he was being clever, or someone higher up mandated the [title banner] cover-up to avoid complaints. The Germans, however, knew a good thing when they saw it. The title [Drei Unzen Agonie] translates as Three Ounces Agony. The original Carter Brown title was House of Sorcery (‘Agony’ was a brand of perfume).”

A 1967 Signet Books edition of House of Sorcery, with different McGinnis cover artwork, can be enjoyed here.

Finally, drawn from my own image files, is a third instance of a publisher not making best use of a McGinnis illustration. The cover above from the 1971 Paperback Library edition of Frenzy, by Arthur La Bern, features only half of the image McGinnis provided. The full art is displayed on the right. It should be noted that Frenzy was originally titled Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square, and was published in 1966. It provided the basis for the 1972 Alfred Hitchcock film Frenzy. Paperback Library changed the name of La Bern’s novel to match the movie’s title.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Month of McGinnis: “Moment of Danger”

Part of a month-long celebration of Robert McGinnis’ book covers.

Moment of Danger (aka Scent of Danger), by Donald MacKenzie (Dell, 1959). This novel was adapted in 1960 as the motion picture Malaga, starring Trevor Howard and Dorothy Dandridge.