Saturday, April 17, 2021

All Alone, with Trouble in Mind

Book titles containing the word “widow” suddenly seem to be everywhere on my radar. March brought the publication of Alma Katsu’s “gripping, authentic spy procedural,” Red Widow (Putnam), and earlier this month saw the re-release (by Cutting Edge Books) of Louis Lorraine’s 1961 sleaze classic, Commuter Widow. Soon after I downloaded the inarguably not-safe-for-work front cover of that new Commuter Widow edition, I had cause to search for it again in my computer files … and came up with a slew of attractive vintage novels also featuring “widow” in their names.

I’m sorry to say that I don’t know the name of the artist whose remarkable work fronts the 1958 Crest printing of Richard Wormser’s The Widow Wore Red, shown above. But I can identify the painters of most of the paperback covers below, from Bill George (Black Widow, 1954) and Harry Barton (both the undated Exciting Widow and the yarn from which it swiped its art, 1963’s That Kind of Widow) to Ernest “Darcy” Chiriacka (Self-Made Widow, 1958, and 1963’s The Torrid Widow), Bob Hilbert (1953’s Night at the Mocking Widow), and Robert McGinnis (the undated Suddenly a Widow, by George Harmon Coxe, and 1966’s No Tears from the Widow, by Carter Brown).

Charles Copeland gave us the cover for Rick Holmes’ New Widow (1963), while Weekend Widows (1966) boasts a front painted by Al Rossi, and Paul Rader is credited with creating the image for Wayward Widow (1962). You’re looking at Clark Hulings’ work on 1957’s The Golden Widow, James Meese’s artistry decorating 1957 Pocket release of Ursula Curtiss’ The Widow’s Web, and the talents of Mort Engel showcased on the 1965 Ace version of that same Curtiss tale. Finally, Griffith Foxley was responsible for the painting that introduces the 1954 Dell release of Dolores Hitchens’ Widows Won’t Wait (a very Erle Stanley Gardner-ish title); Mitchell Hooks who was behind the 1955 Bantam cover of The Widow and the Web, by Robert Martin; and the great Walter Popp who imagined the candelabra-wielding redhead on Evelyn Bond’s Widow in White (1973).

Click on any of the images here for an enlargement.


Art Scott said...

The Widow Wore Red sure looks like Barye Phillips to me. I've always been impressed by that so-blue Mocking Widow cover. I see Hilbert did a lot of magazine work in the '50s, but just a few pb covers.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Hey, Art:

I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Phillips painted this paperback front of "The Widow Wore Read." But I haven't found a reliable attribution anywhere.