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.

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