Category Archives: cover art

Selling paperbacks with sex

Paperbacks for a long time were considered a little bit dirty.

As Two-Bit Culture by Kenneth Davis explains it, because they were cheap compared to hardbacks (just check out the prices below) they often took on risque material respectable publishers wouldn’t soil their fingers with. They’d also sell non-risque material by slapping on a sexy cover. In the film The Seven Year Itch, the protagonist’s publishing firm is reissuing Little Women as Secrets of a Girl’s Dormitory, with a cover bursting with nubile young beauties in negligees. I haven’t actually read Little Women but I’m pretty sure the image did not represent the spirit of the book.

So in that spirit, here are some paperback covers (and one pulp) inviting readers to ogle. First one in the classic “isn’t it lucky her hair fell right over the nipples” genre, artist uncredited. I’ve read another book in the same series, they’re actually enjoyable.

Next, one by Casey Jones in the category (based on what I could learn of the book) of “make it look much, much sexier than the contents.”

Third, a much classier one by Lawrence. I have no idea what the cover is about or why there’s a giant cat (or shrunken people).

Back to less than classy, with this Tom Miller image. I don’t know the contents, but it looks like the kind of once-edgy material only a paperback publisher would put out.

Here’s one by Robert McGinnis screaming Bad Girl Within.

And here’s one that conveys S-E-X with much less skin. Of course with that kind of “tell them what they’re getting up front” title, who needs it? I don’t know the artist.

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Assorted paperback covers because why not?

First a typically weird Richard Powers image. No, for Powers that’s actually fairly mundane.

Here Earle Bergey shows Big Planetary Brother is watching you.

Next, one by Gaughan that I think nicely invokes a feel of “struggling humans against overwhelming alien force.”

Fourth, a crime cover by James Meese. Grabs the eye, doesn’t it?

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Anthology covers for Thursday morning

First one, by Mitchell Hooks. Lewis Padgett was a pen-name for C.L. Moore, Henry Kuttner and Moore/Kuttner writing together.

Charles Binger does one for John Collier’s remarkable short-story collection.

Uncredited art for a Ray Bradbury collection

Those come from the school of “try and capture images of all the stories” Here’s one that goes for a single image, by Richard Jones

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This morning, the apocalypse!

As captured on book covers, anyway.

Some say the world will end in fire—

Some say in ice.

Nobody, however, said the world would end crushed by a giant monster until this Kirby cover.

I haven’t read We Who Survived. Alas, Babylon was part of ninth-grade (I think) English, the curriculum’s minor concession to SF (it’s a reasonably realistic look at post-WW III survival, and I quite enjoyed it). I can’t say I have any enthusiasm for those 1950s/early 1960s Marvel monster stories, but they do have cool covers.

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Some pulp covers for your amusement

Just got back from South Carolina yesterday (details later in the week) so no time to post anything thoughtful.

This one by Earl Bergey looks a little odd — the creature’s expression looks almost apologetic about disturbing the humans.

This one by Bergey’s a bit better

Uncredited art but I think it’s effective.

Here’s one by Walter Popp to wrap things up

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For today, a quote and a cover


I heard the quote on Sirius’ Broadway Channel last night, from the musical [title of show] (yes, that’s the title): “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.”

As a writer that’s not a bad goal to shoot for. I’m not sure it’s a practical career goal (if the hundred people all buy my book, option B is probably more profitable) but even so, something about the sentiment clicks with me.

The cover is by Leo and Diane Dillon for Avram Davidson’s fantasy about the Roman poet Virgil, re-imagined in medieval legend as sorcerer Virgil Magus. I’m not a fan of Davidson, a stylized writer whose style I find very off-putting. This book was the best of those I read, and the cover captures its rather quirky tone. Plus it’s a neat image in its own right.

#SFWApro. All rights to cover image remain with current holder.

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Because I love to show cool cover art, that’s why.

So here’s Powers’ cover for Ballard’s The Drowned World, much beloved by Madonna

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Dogs driving me slightly crazy

So no time to write the post I’d planned. Instead, comic book and pulp covers.

Carl Burgos did this old Marvel cover.

I’ve no idea what’s going on in the story behind Gloria Stoll Karn’s cover, but it’s certainly striking. So is Dime Mystery costing 15 cents.

Another pulp cover, courtesy of Walter Popp.

And Murphy Anderson provides this last puzzler.

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A light work week

Because I’ve been up to visit friends in Virginia and today, barring some disaster, I’m at Mysticon (TYG holds down the fort and minds the puppies). Plus TYG was off Monday, so I took some of it off too.

The big accomplishment was that I finally got the kinks out of the Atlas Shagged cover. Surprisingly simple, I just had to find a cover design that matched the size of the image I wanted to use. So next month, it’ll be out!  Otherwise nothing much to mention. So let’s go to my perennial fallback, cover art:

The Silver Age Suicide Squad wasn’t much to read (which didn’t stop me buying a TPB recently), but I do think that’s a strong cover by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. They really capture the shock of being very small and very helpless.

Murphy Anderson provides the cover art for this one, which I posted a few years ago. What a hook for a young reader.

One of my favorite Mystery in Space covers, by Gil Kane.

And another Gil Kane cover. From the synopsis I’ve read of the story, the cover is the equivalent of clickbait, only tangentially related to the story.

Switching to Marvel, we have a Jack Kirby cover that deftly combines the two unrelated series in the book.

Here’s one of Marvel’s horror/monster covers, again by Kane.

That issue was actually a reprint. Here’s the original by Marie Severin from four years earlier.

And I’ll close with another Kirby cover because unleashing something called “Shagg” is inherently funny.

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Some days you get the blog post …

But yesterday I was too tired to say anything deep. So as I hate breaking my post-a-day streak, here’s a couple of covers:

I’m actually interested in picking this one up sometime. Cover by Jeff Jones, with a psychedelic flair that seems to fit the subject matter.

Cover by Robert McGinnis. A good example of a Sex Sells hardboiled detective cover.

This one by Schoenherr just works, I’m not sure why.

Below, obviously, is not a cover. It’s a map from Silver Age Harvey Comics showing how all their various series (Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, Little Dot, Baby Huey, Wendy the Good Little Witch) all coexisted in the same valley. Even though i wasn’t a fan of them, I find it pretty neat. No clue as to artist.

All rights to all images remain with the current holders. #SFWApro

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