Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Casting a Wide Net for Links

• Raymond Johnson’s art featured regularly on mid-20th-century paperback covers, particularly those in the crime- and science-fiction categories. I’ve showcased Johnson’s paintings a number of times in Killer Covers, but have always been curious to know more about the artist himself. So I was excited to hear that Rubén “DaCollector” Azcona, a regular contributor to the private Today’s Inspiration Facebook Group page, would be conducting a YouTube interview with Lowell Wilson, author of a beautiful new feature in Illustration Magazine about Johnson. Their exchange can now be seen here in its 2.5-hour entirety. Wilson shares myriad examples of Johnson’s work, some of which graced more than one paperback front, and a few I didn’t know were done by Johnson. Promptly after watching this interview, I ordered a copy of the Illustration Magazine (#77) in which Wilson’s profile appears. How could I pass it up?

• I love it when the blog Pulp International delivers its irregular cover-theme posts. The latest one collects “vintage paperback covers featuring characters on both the giving and receiving ends of knives—or knifelike tools such as icepicks.”

• Speaking of art themes, Paperback Palette blogger Jeff Christoffersen looks back here at artist Rudy Nappi’s many Nancy Drew (ND) covers. As he explains, “In 1952, Rudy Nappi was assigned by publisher Grosset & Dunlap to create cover art for their original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. He concluded his stint in 1979 with what is considered to be the final volume in the original series, volume 56. … Nappi tried to honor the original existing cover art wherever he could, while also updating Nancy’s look as per his publisher’s instructions. Eventually, he followed his own instincts, and his wife’s, who actually read the books on his behalf, composing new scenes for some titles, and on others actual montages, a first for the series. Nappi painted most of these with gouache on board. Along a similar vein, and coinciding with the ND’s, Nappi produced more than 58 of the original Hardy Boys series covers for the same publisher.”

• For the blog Kevin’s Corner, author James R. Benn relates some of the history behind the covers featured on his World War II-era Billy Boyle books, including the 17th and latest installment, From the Shadows, due out next month from Soho Crime.

• Here’s another good reason to go on living! Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle, who have already published handsomely illustrated volumes about artists Samson Pollen and Mort Künstler, are preparing to release a new book focused on Brooklyn-born painter George Gross (1909-2003). Gross, writes Deis, “was one of the greatest of the many great illustration artists who created cover and interior illustrations for the men’s adventure magazines … In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Gross was also a top cover artist for paperbacks.” The authors debuted George Gross: Covered at the recent PulpFest in Pittsburgh, but haven’t yet made it available on Amazon, Book Depository, or other sales sites. Deis says he’ll post a preview of the work in his blog soon. Watch for it!

Finally, Michael Stradford, the man behind Steve Holland: The World’s Greatest Illustration Art Model and Steve Holland: Cowboy, reminds us that not only did Holland serve as the model for “Doc Savage, The Spider, The Phantom, The Avenger, countless cowboys and other iconic fiction characters,” but he was also cast as “television’s first ‘Flash Gordon.’” Holland, of course, filled the boots of comic-strip artist Alex Raymond’s space adventurer in the DuMont Network’s 1954-1955 series Flash Gordon. If you’ve never seen any of that show’s 39 half-hour episodes, you’re in luck: Stradford has embedded a colorized example in his post here.

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