Sunday, September 2, 2012

Death in a Ghoul White Dress

Can't ever go wrong with skull-headed women! Thanks much to artist William Teason, who in the late '80s was shocking tasteful sensibilities with unsettlingly blank-eyed skulls on the covers of Zebra's horror line. He'd started in the early '60s illustrating the covers for Agatha Christie paperbacks published by Dell, and is even responsible for one of my favorite covers ever. The stark black backgrounds here make the skeletal ladies stand out even more; no foggy moors or misty castles impede on their ability to disturb. I don't know much - nay, anything! - about these Sharon Combes titles Caly (1980) and Cherron (1981), although one short review on Amazon described 'em as a "John Saul meets V.C. Andrews" thing, so, you know, no thanks.

But compare these Teason covers, published in 1987, to the first edition paperbacks (artist unknown) from five or six years earlier, and which were perennial finds in used bookstores of the day:

 
These aren't terrible, of course, but Too Much Horror Fiction must side with Mr. Teason's unholy passions...

5 comments:

Luis said...

Even though the content is totally generic the artistic skill in these covers is above and beyond the usual for these kind of paperbacks. Well done, Mr. Teason.

Jack Tripper said...

Is Teason the guy that did those horribly awesome old Zebra Horror line covers (usually featuring skeletons), like Ruby Jean Jensen's?

BTW Will, did you ever get around to reading any Jensen? I'd always assumed her stuff was lowest common denominator horror when I was a kid, but the more I read about her, the more intrigued I am. I recently found a bunch of her work at a local used store, but I wanted your opinion before taking the plunge, since I don't know if the great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon are by people who like low-grade horror. And you and I have similar taste.

Will Errickson said...

Artist Robert Newton did some of those Jensen covers, like HOME SWEET HOME; I'm not sure if Teason did any Jensens or not, but he did other Zebra horror titles, like HOCUS POCUS by Scaparro, WILD VIOLETS by Field, and WOLFSBANE by Johnstone.

And no, I haven't gotten around to her. I'm still a little wary, and I rarely if ever see any of her books when bookhunting these days...

bluerosekiller said...

Will - I read CALY back in '79 or '80, but couldn't tell you a thing about it's plot or characters. Don't remember a thing about them. All I can recall is that it took place in Maine. Which, about every second genre novel seemed to back at the time because of the explosion in popularity of King's stuff.
Still have that first paperback version in my collection.

Jim

cdkingla said...

I read both "Caly" and "Cherron" as a teen in the 80s (the non-skeleton printings.) I remember nothing about "Caly" but "Cherron" is a campy, trashy hoot. Imagine Tennessee Williams wrote a ripoff of "Carrie" after watching "Pirahna." Okay, it's more VC Andrews than Williams but still a fun read for fans of "worm turns" stories and Gothic melodrama.

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