Monday, October 31, 2016

Rader Love: Halloween Treats

Part of a month-long celebration of artist Paul Rader’s work.

Drink with the Dead, by J.M. Flynn (Ace, 1959). This standalone novel by newspaperman-turned-novelist Jay, or J.M., Flynn—perhaps best remembered for writing The Five Faces of Murder (1962) and four previous tales about “an off-the-wall San Francisco bar owner and secret agent named McHugh”—was packaged in a two-for-one paperback with Mistress of Horror House, by “William Woody,” aka Woodbury William Fagette (1903-1974). Rader did not also paint the front of Woody’s yarn, but I cannot quite make out the actual illustrator’s signature at the bottom of that other cover. Any ideas?

So concludes Killer Covers’ month-long tribute to paperback cover artist Paul Rader. Over the course of this series, we’ve offered an overview of Rader’s career and influences; talked with his daughter, Elaine Rader, about his painting history as well as her mother’s role as the sexy “Rader Girl”; and relished daily displays of more than 40 of Rader’s most memorable images. That Brooklyn-born artist who once thought he’d make his name and nut as a portraitist, ultimately earned renown instead as a prolific, mid-20th-century creator of captivating fronts for crime, romance, and soft-porn fiction. Assembling a gallery of the lesbian-themed novels to which Rader contributed his illustrations would, alone, be a rather considerable task.

Although Paul Rader’s reputation waned after his death in 1986, it has grown again more recently, as vintage-book collectors have rediscovered his dexterity at capturing the supple wonders of the female form in colored inks. Southern California books historian Lynn Monroe, who has devoted years of study to this artist’s work, explains that Rader’s principal talent was “taking the art of the pin-up, formerly used mainly on calendars and [in] advertising, and adapting that look for mass-market paperback book covers.” Rader, he adds, “was the 1960s heir apparent to the classic pin-up legacy of Charles Dana Gibson, George Petty, and Alberto Vargas.” At the height of his career, Rader’s not-so-good-girl-art became as familiar to paperback readers as that of Robert McGinnis, Mitchell Hooks, Harry Bennett, Ernest Chiriacka (aka Darcy), and other painters whose work was in high demand by publishers.

There are so many captivating Rader book façades to choose from, that when I set about paring down a list of my remaining favorites to install in this last tribute post, I still wound up with 110! Since I’d like to save some for future use, I have further narrowed my selections down to another 40, which I offer below for your delight.

Click on any of these images for an enlargement.

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