Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Four Play

• Between 1943 and 1951, American publisher Dell Books did something rather remarkable with the rear sides of hundreds of its releases, especially crime novels. As Wikipedia explains, “the entire back covers [were] given over to maps, or variously charts, blueprints, or what have you to represent story locale or scene of the crime: a stretch of California highway, the interior of an apartment, a sheik’s ‘city of stones.’ It was an enjoyable if slightly goofy gimmick and, amazingly, managed to last nearly ten years.” As Gary Lovisi explained in this article for Mystery Scene, “Dell editor Lloyd Smith … came up with the idea for the back cover maps (or someone at Western Publishing suggested the idea to him). Smith was, in essence, a one-man publishing whirlwind. According to most accounts, he designed and envisioned the series, originating the maps, casts of characters and other features, and even suggested the airbrushed covers that Gerald Gregg and others would paint so effectively.” To honor that classic series, Mystery Fanfare’s Janet Rudolph began last month to post “mapbacks” every Monday. You can keep up with her offerings by clicking here.

• British comics historian Steve Holland pays deserved tribute to the work of Scottish-American espionage novelist Helen MacInnes by posting this gallery of her many book fronts.

• The blog Battered, Tattered, Yellowed & Creased showcases some of the illustrations Robert Maguire did during the last half of the 20th century for a variety of paperback publishers. If you would like to see more of Maguire’s artwork, track down a copy of Jim Silke’s terrific 2009 volume, Dames, Dolls, and Gun Molls. Or clickety-clack here to find Killer Covers posts highlighting his efforts.

• Finally, Yvette Banek has collected a wealth of paperback façades featuring old-time nurses in all their starched and proper glory.

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