Sunday, July 10, 2016

MacDonald’s Century: From Pulps to Popularity

If you read yesterday’s piece by Jay Handelman in Florida’s Sarasota Herald-Tribune, or have been keeping track of that newspaper’s evolving “John D. and Me” series, you already know that July 24 will mark 100 years since the birth, in Sharon, Pennsylvania, of John D. MacDonald (1916-1986), the well-respected and fervently praised author of a 21-book series starring Florida “salvage consultant”/investigator Travis McGee.

To celebrate this notable occasion, Killer Covers is planning to post two weeks worth of vintage MacDonald book fronts, taken not only from his McGee series, but from the many other crime, suspense, and science-fiction novels he composed. Many of those façades are lovely, and we won’t be able to get to them all. But we hope that the ones slated to appear on this page will remind you of the fine work MacDonald did over his more than three-decades-long career, and perhaps encourage you to dig further into his oeuvre.

Let’s begin, quite appropriately, with The Brass Cupcake (Gold Medal, 1950), the first book-length manuscript MacDonald saw published, after years spent penning hundreds of short stories and novellas. As Steve Scott recalls in his blog, The Trap of Solid Gold, at the time, paperback publisher Fawcett was hungry for original works. “MacDonald had an already-written novella titled ‘The Brass Cupcake’ and intended it for publication in one of the pulps. His agent made the suggestion that JDM lengthen it and shop it to Fawcett as a paperback original. Rather than simply padding the original work, MacDonald rewrote it and it became his first published novel …” The art for the cover shown above was painted by Barye Phillips.


Art Taylor said...

Oh, this is going to be fun to follow! Thanks so much for this first entry!

TracyK said...

Thanks so much for pointing to that series at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. And the other link to the S. Rufener site. I was unaware of these and will be spending a lot of time catching up. Looking forward to two weeks of John D. MacDonald covers.