Monday, April 13, 2015

Duped: “Awake to Love”

The latest installment in Killer Covers’ “haven’t we seen this front someplace before?” series. Previous entries are here.

Given all the attention being paid recently by the media to sex--and especially the incidence of rape--on American college and university campuses, thanks to Rolling Stone magazine’s dubious report on such assaults at the University of Virginia, it’s only natural that the vintage paperback cover below should have attracted my attention. The artwork comes, of course, from the brush of Paul Rader (1906-1986), who created some of the sexiest novel fronts of the 20th century, primarily for publisher Midwood Books. But this is only one version of his eye-catching illustration.

For Awake to Love (All Star, 1967), Rader gives us the image of two youthful sweethearts, secreted behind a barrier of bushes and locked in passionate embrace on the grounds of what evidence suggests is a venerable institution of higher learning. The gent’s dress shirt is unbuttoned, but that is nothing compared with the woman’s dishabille; her skirt has been pushed up to reveal plenty of leg and a delicate garter, and her sweater looks to have popped its buttons, loosing at least one bare breast for her paramour’s appraisal. “Scandal rocks a quiet university campus …,” reads the novel’s cover teaser, “forbidden passion behind ivy-covered walls.”

This is a rather more explicit version of Rader’s illustration than appeared five years earlier on the Midwood release Campus Jungle, by Joan Ellis. That original image still showed the woman being kissed without abandon … but with her sweater fully covering her bust. It seems we have here one of a number of cases in which Rader reworked art he’d executed to Midwood’s specifications for a later publishing client. (He did that not only for All-Star, but also for Bee-Line, Edka and Private Edition titles).

We can only guess that the art director for Awake to Love thought the American reading public was more open-minded in 1967, a year before the famous “Summer of Love,” than it had been in 1962, when Marilyn Monroe was found dead at age 36 and The Beatles recorded their first single, “Love Me Do.”

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