Thursday, September 8, 2011

Horror Paperback Covers: The Good, the Erotic, the Ridiculous

Dead of Night (Dell, 1957) I'm completely charmed by this cover - it reminds me of drawings I did when I was a kid! Super Halloween-style. Don Congdon was a behind-the-scenes guy in fantasy and horror.

Invisible Men (Ballantine, 1960) How can you not love the framed boobies?! A humorous delight indeed.

Ghosts and Things (Berkley, 1962) Classic writers, classic '60s horror art.

Something Evil (Avon, 1968) Avon Books really had evocative, mysterious cover art back in the paperback original days before horror achieved its bestselling status in the following decade.

Translation (Ballantine, 1977), The Searing (Charter, 1987), The Wanting Factor (Playboy Press, 1980) Ladies, ladies, ladies! Please.

Blood Sisters (1988), Dream House (1987), Cry Wolf (1987) And leave it to Zebra Books to bring us to the ridiculous. That skeleton sniffing a rose has got to be one of the dumbest, most idiotic cover images I've ever seen. Argh! *gasp* *choke*


Horror Fiction Reviews said...


highwayknees said...

I love those old "expressionist" covers from the 5o's and 60's like the one on Ghosts and Things! Especially if the cover art's by Richard Powers-the KING of that style. Although his covers were a bit more abstract even. i have a book on his covers and bibliography of illustrations.

And I agree whole-heartedly with the art on Avon covers from the late 60's through mid-70's. They are so evocative. My absolute favorites. They really put their all into developing an aura of mystery around a book. In fact I've never heard of or seen the example here...? But just the cover and blurb are enough to make me salivate for what's inside! Have you read that one yet? Something Evil? I'd like to hear your take on the story and style? Most of the Avons were good unusual reads. Even if they were just one-off obscurities.

Kat said...

Zebra has the most AMAZING book covers... There are days when I buy books simply based on how ridiculous they are. And you sir, always find the ones that are... TO DIE FOR.
*hold for trumpet raspberry*
Sorry man, had to be done.

craig said...

Just when I thought I had discovered every Zebra book out there, along comes BLOOD SISTERS. Call it what you want, it just jumped to the top of my must-buy and maybe-read list.

Unknown said...

Great post, as always, Will. Looking at the cover of Arthur Hoffe's "Something Evil," I was prompted to find out more about the artist. It was Robert Foster (1895-1982). He did many SF & F (as well as mainstream) paperback covers, including the first 4 Gor books for Ballantine, which his student, Tom Watson, calls one of his crowning achievements.

You might be interested in giving a look-see at this blog by Leif Peng

which talks about Robert Foster, and has links to a five part recollection of Foster's life by Tom Watson.

I was particularly amused by this anecdote of Tom's:

"Bob explained to me an amusing account of how he was able to read the time consuming manuscripts of stories to be illustrated and still meet his deadlines. He explained that he didn’t read them, instead he hired prostitutes to come to his apartment / studio, who would read to him while he painted (I imagine at perhaps a lower rate than their normal fee).

He said they had time during the day, since their normal working hours were at night and into the early morning. He said they would also model for him occasionally, and they really enjoyed the change of pace."

Thanks, again, for an excellent blog.


Will Errickson said...

Great stuff, Ted, I appreciate the legwork.

~ said...

Found this blog when I Googled the Berkley anthology "Ghosts and Things," which I am currently reading. (Highly recommended, so far!) I picked it up a few years ago for my vintage PB collection. Like highwayknees I'm a big fan of Richard Powers' cover art (we probably have the same book). He did a lot of the covers for horror anthologies at Ballantine, Berkley and Avon in addition to his ubiquitous SF work. He also did the cover for the PBO of Sturgeon's "Some of Your Blood," which you write up very nicely.

Very happy I found this wonderful blog. I'm a fan of most "pulpish" genres, but horror, when done right, is the absolute best. (Alas, the converse is also true.) Look forward to reading more!

Unknown said...

My copy of Stories for the Dead of Night still has my mother's name and apartment number written on the inside cover. It might very well be the first horror I ever read. I have another reading copy in better shape but I couldn't throw this one away.

Will Errickson said...

DEAD OF NIGHT would've been a great intro to horror fiction from the cover art alone!