Sunday, February 21, 2021

Another Look: “The Swimming Pool”

Warning: Artistic inspiration drawn from book titles may vary.

Left: The Swimming Pool, by Mary Roberts Rinehart (Dell, 1953); cover artist Carl Bobertz. Right: The Swimming Pool, by Mary Roberts Rinehart (Dell, 1974); cover illustration by George Ziel.

READ MORE:How Mary Roberts Rinehart, Queen of the Mystery Novel, Was Very Nearly Murdered,” by Sarah Weinman (CrimeReads).

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Monday, February 8, 2021

Because I Needed an Ozaki Fix …

Dressed to Kill, by Milton K. Ozaki (Graphic, 1954). This novel marks the single appearance of Chicago private eye Rusty Forbes, who here “takes a job repossessing cars, and the first one he goes after is driven by a beautiful blonde and has a corpse in the trunk,” according to the blog Pulp International. “The corpse of course leads to loot, and the loot of course attracts the villains—a bunch of Chicago mobsters. Generally well reviewed, but not Ozaki's best, according to most sources.” The cover illustration is by Walter Popp. You can see this book’s backside here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Sit Up and Take Notice

• This last Christmas brought me two handsome books that I had done my best to hint broadly about with people I knew were open to further expanding my art and design library. The first was Mort Künstler: The Godfather of Pulp Fiction Illustrators, by Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle (New Texture), the latest in their succession of volumes covering stories and artwork that once graced the pages of 20th-century men’s adventure magazines. What a beautiful hardback, complete with the artist’s own reminiscences (he’s still alive at age 89!) regarding his diverse and lengthy career, plus a preface by Stephanie Haboush Plunkett of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts and an introduction by Michael W. Schantz from the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, New York. Deis last year featured some of the illustrations from this book in his blog, but paging through the completed work is far and away better than scrutinizing shrunken scans.

(Right) The Case of the One-Eyed Witness (Pan, 1958). Cover art by Sam Peffer.

• The companion publication I found under my Christmas tree was Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books, 1950-1965, by Colin Larkin (Telos UK). I agree with author-blogger Andrew Nette, who calls this “quite simply one of the most beautiful appreciations of the paperback format I can remember reading. It also fills an important gap in the history of British paperback publishing in recounting the origins and operations of Pan …, including a lot of material gathered from interviews with the artists and editors involved in the company during this time.” Not only is Larkin’s oversize work stuffed full of gorgeous cover images, but it features often-fascinating profiles of the artists behind those illustrations, from James Hilton and Henry Fox to Oliver Brabbins and Sam “Peff” Peffer. Picking up Cover Me to flip through its pages leaves you at risk of forgetting whatever else you’d planned to do that day.

• George Easter, the editor of Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine, has posted two pieces recently that are of likely interest to Killer Covers readers. The first collects 39 vintage paperback fronts, each of which features one or more things we don’t see around much anymore. The challenge is to identify each of those anachronisms. The answers are all available at the post’s end.

In this second piece, Easter showcases a variety of “girl with a gun”-themed covers—one of which featured in this blog’s just-concluded 12th-anniversary celebration.

• Finally, Literary Hub asks, “Is the next book cover trend … rainbows?” The examples include one work from the crime-fiction stacks, the upcoming release You Love Me, by Caroline Kepnes.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Now We Are 12: “Dead Men’s Plans”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

Dead Men’s Plans, by Mignon G. Eberhart (Dell, 1954).
Cover art by Richard M. Powers.

The Beginning of the End

In the coming hours, I’ll post the final entry in this blog’s 12th anniversary series of vintage book covers. It has been a great joy during these two weeks to introduce readers to some “classic book fronts that have attracted my attention over this last pandemic-seared year.” I am especially happy to have included within these dozen installments the work of several artists not previously showcased on this page.

If you haven't been assiduously following my daily presentations, simply click here to catch up with the whole series.

And rest assured that, although this particular celebration will soon conclude, the variety of classic covers in my collection is nowhere near tapped out. The future holds many more treats!

Friday, January 29, 2021

Now We Are 12: “My Late Wives”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

My Late Wives, by “Carter Dickson,” aka John Dickson Carr (Pocket, 1949). Cover art by Louis S. Glanzman.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Now We Are 12: “The Pleasure in Women”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

The Pleasure in Women, by “Ted Lee,” aka Herbert Leavy (Monarch, 1962). Cover art by Harry Schaare. If you’d like to read the back-cover copy, you can do so here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Now We Are 12: “The Mote in God’s Eye”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (Pocket, 1975). Cover art by Edward Soyka, who—if I’m not mistaken—is currently on the faculty at the State University of New York’s School of Art and Design. More of Soyka’s science-fiction book covers can be found here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Now We Are 12: “Spy Hunt”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

Spy Hunt, by Norman Daniels (Pyramid, 1960).
Cover art by Victor Kalin.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Now We Are 12: “Come Pretty Puss”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

Come Pretty Puss, by Artèlle Freed (Corgi, 1960). The cover illustration here is credited to John Richards, who is better known for his science-fiction fronts. More of Richards’ paperback art can be enjoyed here and here.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Now We Are 12: “Lodge Sinister”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

Lodge Sinister, by “Dana Ross,” aka William Edward Daniel “W.E.D.” Ross (Pocket, 1975). The cover was painted by Buenos Aires-born artist Hector Garrido, who died on April 19, 2020, at 92 years of age. Learn more about Garrido here and here.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Now We Are 12: “Naked Sin”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

Naked Sin, by Gordon Clark (Avon, 1958).
Cover art by Clark Hulings.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Now We Are 12: “Don’t Ever Love Me”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

Don’t Ever Love Me, by Octavus Roy Cohen (Popular Library, 1951). Cover art by Rudolph Belarski.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Now We Are 12: “The Mephisto Waltz”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

The Mephisto Waltz, by Fred Mustard Stewart (Signet, 1970).
Cover art by Robert Heindel.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Now We Are 12: “A Real Killing”

Part of a series celebrating Killer Covers’ first dozen years.

A Real Killing, by James Pattinson (Robert Hale, 1976). This was the second installment in Pattinson’s seven-book series starring “Sam Grant, of the Peking Inquiry Agency and later the Grant Inquiry Agency.” The cover painting is by Eileen Walton.