Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Sit Up and Take Notice

• This last Christmas brought me two handsome books that I had done my best to hint broadly about with people I knew were open to further expanding my art and design library. The first was Mort Künstler: The Godfather of Pulp Fiction Illustrators, by Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle (New Texture), the latest in their succession of volumes covering stories and artwork that once graced the pages of 20th-century men’s adventure magazines. What a beautiful hardback, complete with the artist’s own reminiscences (he’s still alive at age 89!) regarding his diverse and lengthy career, plus a preface by Stephanie Haboush Plunkett of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts and an introduction by Michael W. Schantz from the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, New York. Deis last year featured some of the illustrations from this book in his blog, but paging through the completed work is far and away better than scrutinizing shrunken scans.

(Right) The Case of the One-Eyed Witness (Pan, 1958). Cover art by Sam Peffer.

• The companion publication I found under my Christmas tree was Cover Me: The Vintage Art of Pan Books, 1950-1965, by Colin Larkin (Telos UK). I agree with author-blogger Andrew Nette, who calls this “quite simply one of the most beautiful appreciations of the paperback format I can remember reading. It also fills an important gap in the history of British paperback publishing in recounting the origins and operations of Pan …, including a lot of material gathered from interviews with the artists and editors involved in the company during this time.” Not only is Larkin’s oversize work stuffed full of gorgeous cover images, but it features often-fascinating profiles of the artists behind those illustrations, from James Hilton and Henry Fox to Oliver Brabbins and Sam “Peff” Peffer. Picking up Cover Me to flip through its pages leaves you at risk of forgetting whatever else you’d planned to do that day.

• George Easter, the editor of Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine, has posted two pieces recently that are of likely interest to Killer Covers readers. The first collects 39 vintage paperback fronts, each of which features one or more things we don’t see around much anymore. The challenge is to identify each of those anachronisms. The answers are all available at the post’s end.

In this second piece, Easter showcases a variety of “girl with a gun”-themed covers—one of which featured in this blog’s just-concluded 12th-anniversary celebration.

• Finally, Literary Hub asks, “Is the next book cover trend … rainbows?” The examples include one work from the crime-fiction stacks, the upcoming release You Love Me, by Caroline Kepnes.

1 comment:

Robert Deis (aka "SubtropicBob") said...

As a big fan of yours, I gotta say your nice review of our Mort Kunstler art book made my day, week and month! Thanks very much, Jeff! I will make sure Mort and Wyatt Doyle see it, too. I know they'll also be very pleased. Cheers!
- Bob Deis