Sunday, March 12, 2023

A Double Cover-up

Only once have I spotted this edition of Two Much in the wild, years ago on the dusty shelves of a used bookstore in Bellingham, Washington. Stupidly, because I wasn’t particularly interested in Donald E. Westlake’s fiction at the time, I didn’t buy the thing. But it’s a true paperback novelty.

The art fronting this 1976 Fawcett Crest version of Two Much was painted by the prolific Morgan Kane (1916-2014). As Southern California bookseller and books historian Lynn Munroe explains, “Kane painted the twins in the nude, then the pink fuzz bikinis were applied to each cover. Somebody asked me if I thought this was sleaze or art. I think it is art, and I think Botticelli and Courbet would have understood the artist’s success.”

Of this novel’s plot, Munroe writes: “Two Much is Westlake’s comic romp about a man who meets two beautiful blonde twins and falls in love with both of them. Unable to choose one over the other, he invents a second personality and pretends to be his own twin brother. Each brother can then romance one of the blondes. That is, if he can just keep everything straight and make sure both brothers are never supposed to be in the same room at the same time. We don’t see the word ‘zany’ on a book cover too often, but it fits Two Much well.”

If I ever find a good-quality, reasonably priced copy of this novel for sale again, you can bet I won’t pass it by!

Friday, March 10, 2023

The Best Part of Waking Up ...

I’m a big devotee of punny titles, so this February 1943 cover of Dime Detective (with artwork by Rafael DeSoto) went down well with my own morning cup of java. “You’re the Crime in My Coffee” was one of D.L. Champion’s many stories starring Inspector Allhoff of the New York City Police Department. (Source: Pulp Covers.)

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Because I Needed a Tey Fix …

The Man in the Queue, “Josephine Tey,” aka Elizabeth MacKintosh (Great Pan, 1958). This was the first of Tey’s novels to star Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant.

Cover illustration by Glenn Steward.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

A Fuller Feast of Foster

A Wilderness of Stars, edited by William F. Nolan (Dell, 1971).

Seven years ago on this page, I presented an assortment of paperback covers by the artist Robert Foster. I did not cease being interested in his extraordinary work after finishing that post, though, but kept my eye out for more paperback fronts he’d painted over the years. I now have in my computer files twice as many additional Foster creations to present here as I did the first time.

More than half of these qualify as science fiction, either novels or short-story collections. They often combine nude or semi-nude bodies with gears and rigid industrial machinery, becoming collages of the sensual and the soulless. Other images gathered below are of general fiction releases, spy yarns, suspense tales and mysteries. As was true, too, of my previous round of Foster fronts, a number of examples in this batch feature prolific paperback model Steve Holland. I’m especially drawn to The Human Zoo (Dell, 1971), a non-fiction study by British zoologist Desmond Morris; Sexmax, by Hughes Cooper (New English Library, 1969); Harlan Ellison’s Over the Edge (Belmont Tower, 1972); the 1969 Dell edition of John le Carré’s A Small Town in Germany (its original Foster painting shown here); and the 1969 Pocket issue of The Narrow Corner, by W. Somerset Maugham, which might have found a place in our 2017 gallery of paperbacks showing women exposing themselves to men.

Click on any of these images to open an enlargement.

Softcover Standout

Michael Stradford, author of the 2021 book Steve Holland: The World’s Greatest Illustration Art Model, has completed a new account of Holland’s numerous artistic appearances. Titled Steve Holland: Paperback Hero, it will be introduced at the Vintage Paperback Show in Glendale, California, on March 19. Wider circulation is to follow, though I can find no purchasing information yet.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Another Look: “The Case of the Terrified Typist”

Warning: Artistic inspiration drawn from book titles may vary.

Left: The Case of the Terrified Typist, by Erle Stanley Gardner (Cardinal, 1958), with a leggy cover illustration by Rudy Garcia. Right: The Case of the Terrified Typist, by Erle Stanley Gardner (Pan UK, 1964); cover art by Harry Sheldon. Originally published in the United States by William Morrow and Company, in January 1956, this was Gardner’s 49th (!) Perry Mason novel.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Happy Valentine’s Day, Lovely Readers!

The Tunnel of Love, by Peter De Vries (Lion Library, 1953). Cover illustration by Al Werner, who I presume also supplied the delightful backside artwork.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Because I Needed an Abbot Fix …

About the Murder of a Startled Lady, by “Anthony Abbot,” aka Fulton Oursler (Avon Murder Mystery Monthly, 1944). Published originally in 1936, this was the fifth of Oursler’s novels starring New York City Police Commissioner Thatcher Colt. Sadly, the artwork fronting this entry in Avon’s once-popular paperback line is not credited. And the back cover … well, let’s just say it’s extremely boring.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Front to Back: Wrapping It Up

Part V of a series spotlighting wraparound paperback art.

The Great Silver Bonanza, by Don Martin (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1979). Cover illustration by Ron Lesser.

When, last summer, I set out to exhibit on this page fine examples of wraparound paperback art, I had in mind four categories: historical fiction, science and fantasy fiction, crime/thriller fiction, and western historicals (specifically those penned by A.B. Guthrie). I had plenty of such covers in my computer files, and wasn’t really looking for more. Over the months of my posting on this subject, however, other specimens of the breed have drawn my eye.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find some of those until after I’d put up the original category posts. I could have simply sneaked any and all additions onto the appropriate pages, hoping nobody would notice. But then maybe nobody would notice—and I wanted to be sure Killer Covers readers had the chance to appreciate the stragglers.

So today, I’m posting a cross-genre miscellany of extra wraparound paperback fronts. The art on many of these includes the blank white space that first became popular in the late 1960s; and with the notable exception of 1968’s Corgi release, The Naked Ape (which employs a photograph), all boast painted imagery. Artists represented here range from Sandy Kossin (Cockpit) and Fred Pfeiffer (Tender Fire, The Beggars Are Coming, Soho, and Geisha) to Louis S. Glanzman (Sachem’s Son, Children of the Lion), Lu Kimmel (The Fabulous Finn), Fred Gambino (Ship of Shadows), Bruce Pennington (Startide Rising), and of course, Ron Lesser.

Click on any of the covers below for an enlargement.

Certainly, this does not exhaust the number or variety of outstanding wraparound paperback fronts that have been published over the decades. There are many more that could be presented, and I’m sure I shall take the chance soon to exploit this theme further.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Another Look: “The Future Mister Dolan”

Warning: Artistic inspiration drawn from book titles may vary.

Left: The Future Mister Dolan, by Charles Gorham (Signet, 1949), with a cover illustration credited to James Avati. Right: The Future Mister Dolan, by Charles Gorham (Pyramid, 1959); cover art by Ernest Chiriacka, aka Darcy.

Charles Orson Gorham (1911-1975) saw his first novel, The Gilded Hearse, published in 1948 (and later reissued as Make Me an Offer). He quickly followed that up with The Future Mister Dolan, a tale that has been variously praised as brutal and uncompromising, and damned (by Kirkus Reviews) as “unprintable,” “unforgivable,” and “censor bait.” Gorham went on to pen the no-less-controversial McCaffery (1961), an early gay-themed novel.