Thursday, January 7, 2021

Just the Right Touch?

The Golden Touch, by Al Dewlen (Popular Library, 1959).
Cover art by Stanley Zuckerberg.

So this is how Killer Covers themed posts occasionally germinate: I was listening the other day to a National Public Radio broadcast, and this commentator came on to discuss the many downsides of our world’s present COVID-19 pandemic. One of the things she said she has missed most over the last year is touch—just the innocent, reflexive ability to reach out and touch somebody she knows, to make that common tactile contact. The coronavirus scourge, she observed, has stopped us from shaking hands, stopped us from patting each other on the back, taught us not to move too close to our fellow human beings, lest we contract or pass along the virus. In our efforts to save one another, she lamented, we have lost this valuable connection with each other.

She had a point, of course, and one that I’d heard expressed previously, if not as avidly. And it got me to thinking—but not about the gentle fingering of mortal flesh; rather, it reminded me that I had recently noticed more than one book cover, in my computer’s files, featuring the word “touch” in its title.

As it transpired, I found many more than one example. In addition to Stanley Zuckerberg’s cover—above—you will find fronts here illustrated by the likes of Saul Tepper (A Touch of Death, 1954, below and left), Rafael de Soto (the gold cover from Don’t Touch Me, 1958), Paul Rader (1962’s Touch Me Gently and 1963’s The Cruel Touch), Robert Maguire (Touch Me Not, 1959), Rudy Nappi (A Touch of Depravity, 1960), Victor Kalin (Soft Touch, 1958), and Richard Cuffari (A Touch of Glory, 1964).

If you are aware of any other examples of vintage “touch” covers, I invite you to … well, get in touch.

FOLLOW-UP: Art Scott, the co-author of 2014’s The Art of Robert E. McGinnis, draws my attention to three additional “Touch” paperback covers, all of them carrying McGinnis artwork (and two of which have previously appeared on this page): A Touch of the Dragon, by Hamilton Basso (Popular Library, 1964); The Limbo Touch, by Jack Weeks (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1968); and an alternative front for MacDonald’s Soft Touch (Dell, 1962).

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