Thursday, February 14, 2019

Another Look: Happy Valentine’s Day!

Warning: Artistic inspiration drawn from book titles may vary.



Left: The Case of the Lazy Lover, by Erle Stanley Gardner (Pocket, 1952), with cover art by Clyde Ross. Right: The Case of the Lazy Lover, by Erle Stanley Gardner (Pocket Cardinal, 1958); cover illustration by Mitchell Hooks.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Because I Needed a MacDonald Fix …



The Lethal Sex, edited by John D. MacDonald (Dell, 1959).
Cover illustration by Robert McGinnis.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Another Look: “The Deadly Pick-up”

Warning: Artistic inspiration drawn from book titles may vary.



Left: The Deadly Pick-up, by Milton K. Ozaki (Graphic, 1954); cover illustrator unknown. Right: The Deadly Pick-up, by Milton K. Ozaki (Berkley Diamond, 1960); cover art by Rudy Nappi.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Happy Birthday, Robert McGinnis!


Above: Revenge, by Jack Ehrlich (Dell, 1958). Below right: The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper, by John D. MacDonald (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1981), the 10th Travis McGee novel.


Not everybody lives to be 93 years old. But that’s the age renowned Ohio-born artist-illustrator Robert McGinnis will turn this coming Sunday, February 3. To celebrate this occasion, I’ve composed a small tribute to McGinnis for CrimeReads. You will find that here.

The piece is enhanced with almost 40 scans of covers McGinnis has painted over the last 60 years for crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense novels. Believe it or not, that’s a paltry selection, compared with this artist’s full output. As I explain in the article,
[McGinnis] has produced more than 1,000 unique paintings employed on American paperback book covers. His works are distinguished by their precise use of color, the artist’s preference for portraiture over depicting story scenes, and especially the lithe and luscious women who are so often the focal point of his canvases. Women whom Vanity Fair once described as “a mix of Greek goddess and man-eating Ursula Andress.”
I own several stacks of McGinnis-illustrated paperbacks, and my computer files contain scans of hundreds more. Choosing just over three dozen prime examples to help readers understand the range and distinction of McGinnis’ artistry was no elementary task, and I kept adding and subtracting until I decided I’d found the right combination.

Some of the book fronts I dropped (with regret) in my concluding round of cutting have been used to illustrate this post.

A handful of the scans I’ve employed in CrimeReads came from Art Scott, an erstwhile California chemist turned author, who co-wrote—with the painter himself—2014’s The Art of Robert E. McGinnis (Titan). As Scott told me during an interview I conducted with him at the time that gorgeous hardcover publication saw print, he’s a “compulsive collector” of McGinnis’ book covers. When I spoke with him five years ago, he estimated the number of those works in his collection at 1,088. More recently, he updated that count:
The number is now 1,101. Last entry is So Many Doors, the [Hard Case Crime release] by Oakley Hall—the [Robert] Maguire-McGinnis “collaboration.” I think I’m current with all books issued since the 1,088 number, but there’s always a chance I missed a book somewhere. There are four paperbacks—two Avon Gothics and two Dells—that are on my Desperately Needing Upgrade shortlist. Were there time and funds enough, I could chase foreign paperback editions forever, but I have to be content with occasionally getting on Google Images and similar sites to download interesting foreign covers—[which] reprint, and sometimes mangle, Bob’s original paintings.
I have done my best to not mangle any of the images used in today’s CrimeReads salute to one of the foremost American paperback illustrators. Click here to read it.



Left: Flush Times, by Warren Miller (Fawcett Crest, 1963); click here to see the original painting. Right: The Case of the Duplicate Daughter, by Erle Stanley Gardner (Pocket, 1962).



Left: Daily Bread, by Ralph Moloney (Fawcett Crest, 1961). Right: No More Dying Then, by Ruth Rendell (Bantam, 1974). I, for one, did not remember that McGinnis had created any covers for Rendell’s novels; this is apparently the only one.



Left: No Place to Hide, by Charles Runyon (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1970). Right: The Left Leg, by “Alice Tilton,” aka Phoebe Atwood Taylor (Popular Library, 1968).



Left: Take a Murder, Darling, by Richard S. Prather (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1965). Right: Never Kill a Client, by “Brett Halliday,” aka Davis Dresser (Dell, 1963).



Left: Death Comes Early, by William R. Cox (Dell, 1961).
Right: W.H.O.R.E., by “Carter Brown,” aka Alan Geoffrey Yates (Signet, 1971).

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “December 6”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



December 6, by Martin Cruz Smith (Simon & Schuster, 2002). Jacket design by Jackie Seow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “November Reef”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



November Reef, by Robin Maugham (Monarch, 1964). As The New York Times explained in its obituary of this British author, Robert Cecil Romer Maugham, 2nd Viscount Maugham of Hartfield (1916-1981) “was the nephew of the novelist and short-story writer [W.] Somerset Maugham, and the oldest son of the first Viscount Maugham, a former Lord High Chancellor.”
Cover illustration by Harry Schaare.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “Wait, Son, October Is Near”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



Wait, Son, October Is Near, by John Bell Clayton (Bantam, 1954). Cover illustration by Charles Binger.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “The Deadly September”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



The Deadly September, by “Karl Kramer,” aka Edward A. Morris (Monarch, 1960). Cover illustration by Robert Maguire.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “August Heat”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



August Heat, by Roger Allen (Midwood, 1962). Illustrator unidentified, though some sources credit this cover art to Robert Maguire. The back cover of August Heat can be seen here, while the same artwork, appearing on a later book—Lester Lake’s A Tender Bed (All Star, 1967)—is available here.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “Trouble in July”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



Above: Trouble in July, by Erskine Caldwell (Signet, 1957); cover art by James Avati. Below: Trouble in July, by Erskine Caldwell (Pan, 1960), with an illustration by Hans Helweg.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “A June of Ordinary Murders”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



A June of Ordinary Murders, by Conor Brady (Minotaur, 2012). Jacket design by David Baldeosingh Rotstein.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “Very Cold for May”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



Very Cold for May, by William P. McGivern (Pocket, 1951). Cover illustration by Clark Hulings, who painted the front for at least one other paperback edition of a McGivern crime novel.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “The April Robin Murders”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



The April Robin Murders, by Craig Rice and Ed McBain (Dell, 1959). As blogger Sergio Angelini explained a few years ago in Tipping My Fedora, this was “the final novel by Craig Rice”—aka Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig—“that was left unfinished at her death [in August 1957] and ultimately completed by Evan Hunter under his ‘Ed McBain’ alias.” Cover illustration by Robert McGinnis, whose original artwork can be seen here.

Click here to enjoy a different paperback cover for The April Robin Murders, painted by Ron Lesser.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “Dark Moon of March”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



Dark Moon of March, by Emmett Gowan (Dell, 1952).
Cover illustration by Victor Kalin.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Killer Covers at 10: “February Hill”

A decade in business, 12 months’ worth of paperback fronts.



Above: February Hill, by Victoria Lincoln (Popular Library, 1967), with cover art by Mitchell Hooks. Below: February Hill, by Victoria Lincoln (Bantam, 1947), featuring cover art by Van Kaufman.