Friday, January 27, 2023

Smatterings From All Over

• This was such a splendid idea, it was inevitable that somebody would turn it into reality. And that somebody is British designer David Pearson, who recently launched The Book Cover Review, a Web site devoted to 500-or-so-word critiques of “beloved covers,” both old and new. Insightful early observations are made of the 1975 Pan Books edition of Jaws, by Peter Benchley; the 2012 Vintage front of Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison; and the distinctly quirky, 1958 Bodley Head cover of Agatha Christie’s The Secret of Chimneys.

In The Passing Tramp, Curtis Evans revisits the surrealistic, 1980s Bantam paperback fronts UK painter James Marsh created for Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer private-eye novels. I’m particularly fond of his imagery for the short-story collection The Name Is Archer.

• I’d completely forgotten about the 1970s-1980s Ballantine Books (later Del Ray Books) “Classic Science Fiction” line, which showcased what were promoted as the best works by authors ranging from Stanley G. Weinbaum and Cordwainer Smith to L. Sprague de Camp and James Blish. So I was pleased to be reminded of its virtues by this well-illustrated feature in The Paperback Palette.

• When it comes to distinctive typographic identities, the font family publisher Berkley employed on Frank Herbert’s science-fiction releases during the 1960s and ’70s is especially memorable—even though, as the blog Fonts in Use points out, “the name of this typeface is barely known even among die-hard fans.”

• Sigh ... One of the many things I had hoped to put together last month for my other blog, The Rap Sheet, was a line-up of my favorite crime novel fronts of 2022. I never quite got around to that—though I still might. Meanwhile, Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine editor George Easter produced a post with the same intent, though he has made some choices that are different from my own.

• Before the calendar flips much farther, let me draw your attention to a few other “best book covers of 2022” features: The Washington Post selected its 15 favorites; Literary Hub consulted its “favorite book cover designers” to develop a list almost seven times as long; and The Casual Optimist’s Dan Wagstaff showcases what he calls “notable” young-adult book covers from last year.

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