Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Now We Are 12: “No Nice Girl”

Today, as more than one Web site reminds us (see here, here, and here), would have been the 100th birthday of Patricia Highsmith, the author most famously of The Talented Mr. Ripley, who died back in 1995. Significantly less well remembered is that January 19 also happens to be the anniversary of Killer Covers’ founding in 2009.

I had modest hopes for Killer Covers when I launched it. I wanted only to create a designated spot where I could post vintage (and some newer) book covers I admired, and maybe write a bit about them and their authors on occasion. This blog has since gone through alternating periods of tremendous activity and meager attention, but I have to say that it has significantly exceeded my expectations. I just put up its 1,000th post last week, and have plans for several special projects to roll out here in the coming months.

To celebrate the passage of a dozen years, I’m planning to keep things simple. Beginning this morning, I shall post—one per day—12 classic book fronts that have attracted my attention over this last pandemic-seared year, and that I would like to share with readers. Some of the artists whose work is included will be familiar to regular readers of this page, but I want also to welcome new illustrators into the mix, artists who deserve to have been introduced here long before now.

We’ll begin with the cover above, from the 1959 Pyramid edition of No Nice Girl, by Eugene, Oregon-born fictionist Gail Wilhelm. As I understand it, this was the third title for that novel, which was first published in 1936 as No Letters for the Dead. The artist responsible for Pyramid’s No Nice Girl cover was Jim Bentley (1922-2003), a New Yorker whose artistic career began in 1950, when he signed up for a correspondence course offered by Art Instruction Inc., the same Minneapolis, Minnesota-based enterprise that nurtured the talents of Norman Saunders, Allen Anderson, and others. Click on the image at left to enjoy Bentley’s original painting for this paperback.

It hardly seems possible that a full 12 years have passed since I launched Killer Covers. Much has changed in my life during that period. But one thing that remains the same is my interest in and curiosity about book-cover artists. I shall be glad of more opportunities in the future to acquaint readers with the wealth of skills that have been displayed in decades past. The next two weeks will only offer a taste of things to come.


Evil Woman Blues said...

Congragulations! I read (or view) this site regularly. Keep it up.

Derek Wheeless said...

Just came across your blog recently. Great work. Congratulations on this milestone!

TracyK said...

I look forward to more special projects.