TRASHY TUESDAY: BAD PHOTO COVERS
Vintage paperback collectors generally bemoan the shift from illustrated covers to photographic covers, which occurred in the late 1960s/early 1970s. While the photographic covers usually lack the charm and class of the cover artwork by Robert McGinnis, Sam Peffer, Robert Maguire and many other artists, some of it is quite good and effective. A lot, however, is very bad and some covers leave you wondering as to why the publishers even bothered! In my recent book hunting I have come across a batch of books that suggest a distinct lack of design effort and thought by the publishers.
Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason books were often well served by cover artists in America and the United Kingdom, but the above photographic cover by British publisher Mayflower Books (1973) on Gardner’s 1952 novel The Case Of The Grinning Gorilla is certainly lacking in effort: “let’s put a guy in a badly fitting gorilla suit and give him a large knife with some strawberry jam on it, and presto!”
It looks like some cheap 1970s horror book, not a legal thriller by the master of the courtroom drama. To my mind it lacks the tension and attractiveness of the 1961 Pan effort by Pat Owen (below).
At least the photographic cover for The Case Of The Grinning Gorilla had some relevance to the story, unlike the 1967 Pan edition of Gardner’s The Case Of The Singing Skirt.
Stuck in front of some silver foil, the model is not even wearing a skirt, let alone singing! It could be the cover for almost any late 1960s crime novel.
Tobin In Las Vegas is one of several books by Stanley Morgan about Russ Tobin, a young British lad who travels the world seducing women and getting into trouble. Tobin In Las Vegas sticks pretty much to formula. Nearly all of the Mayflower covers for the Tobin books, feature the same two models wearing different outfits. In this one it seems that a rhinestone cowboy outfit, a girl in a dancer’s outfit and a hand of cards is all you need to suggest Las Vegas! It does not seem that the budget extended to a roulette wheel!
Likewise a large camera and a girl in a leopard print bikini is apparently all you need for a book set in Africa!
When Star re-released the Boysie Oakes books by John Gardner in 1980 they took a very similar approach to the Tobin books (minus the bikini clad girl), and just took a series of photos of a model shooting a gun (usually with his mouth open). Sad treatment of a very good series.
There is also not much effort in the below 1973 reprint by Belmont Tower of Frank Gruber’s 1941 novel The Silver Jackass (below). It certainly does not inspire me to buy the book.