Friday, March 16, 2018

Bennett’s Beauties: A Real Variety Show

Marked for Murder, by John Ross Macdonald (Pocket, 1960), with cover art by Harry Bennett. This third Lew Archer private-eye novel is better known as The Ivory Grin, and farther down in this post you will find another Bennett-painted front for the book under that title, published by Pocket in 1967.

Let me warn you about searching for artist Harry Bennett’s paperback illustrations on the Web: there are a lot of them, and searching through that multitude is sure to exhaust an afternoon. Or two. “He created possibly over 3,000 covers,” Bennett’s youngest son, Tom, told me during our recent interview. And while large scans of many of those works can be found on the Web (easily identified by Bennett’s familiar signature), there seem to be an equal number of releases represented by frustratingly smaller, lower-quality images. To supplement the Bennett art I already had available, I went looking through the Web today for a couple of books I don’t own and do not have sizeable scans of, and wound up with precisely bubkes. So much for the other tasks I’d planned to tackle before day’s end …

Even after years spent periodically posting Harry Bennett’s book fronts on this page, and in the wake of my month-long celebration of his career at the end of 2017—which brought 70 more examples of his artistry to Killer Covers—I still have dozens and dozens of images in my computer files of paperback façades credited to that painter. So I have assembled here for your delectation the first of two Bennett cover galleries designed to better familiarize you with the extraordinary diversity of his talents.

Below, you will find a few older pieces (such as the fronts from Murder One and Cry Shame!, both dated 1950, and Executive Suite from 1952), plus a handful of science fiction and fantasy releases (among them 1976’s Inferno, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle). However, the majority of books shown come from the crime fiction or mainstream fiction shelves. Some of Bennett’s efforts demonstrate a fairly traditional artist character, while others are more modern, perhaps a bit abstract, many revealing bold, discernible brushstrokes. Click on any of these images to open up an enlargement.

Next time, we’ll examine Bennett’s no-less-plentiful contributions to the Gothic romance and romantic suspense genres.

1 comment:

Joe Reiner said...

Lovely stuff--thank you. Came over here from a mention in the Mystery Writer's of America's page (NW chapter).