TRASHY TUESDAY: HORWITZ COVERS – THE PENGUIN SERIES
Horwitz were arguably the prime Australian publishers of paperbacks and pulp fiction in the 1950s and 60s. Probably best known in pulp circles for their publication of Carter Brown novels (as above), they also dabbled across the full spectrum of paperback fiction from westerns to detective fiction to war stories, romance, humour, racing car tales and a steady stream of unsavory books about pretty young white women being held captive and tortured by Nazis and Japanese soldiers during the war (see below).
Horwitz also reprinted novels by overseas authors, often giving them striking covers in the process. Three of my favourite ones in their Penguin series (printed under arrangement with Penguin Books) are set out below.
Dame Ngaio Marsh was a New Zealand crime writer and a leading exponent of the classic British murder mystery. She is know as one of the ‘Queens of Crime’, along with Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham. Her books typified the genteel murder mysteries of the 1930s and 40s, and usually attracted dignified covers. When Horwitz reprinted Final Curtain they sought to broaden appeal and gave it a quite sexy cover. Certainly more eye-catching than the usual covers for the book, it is quite striking, even if the shading gives the impression that the lady has a dirty or hairy back!
Horwitz reprinted several of Erle Stanley Gardner Perry Mason novels, often utilising images of Raymond Burr (see below), who played Mason in the popular television series from 1957 to 1966. This cover for The Case Of The Curious Bride is one of my favourites and gives the book a nice sense of drama.
Finally, Horwitz did a much nicer job on Raymond Chandler’s Playback than Penguin did. This stylish cover by Theo Batten nicely captures the feel of the book and the key elements, and the strong bright colours certainly attract attention.
Certainly with these titles and their regular output of Carter Brown and Marc Brody stories, it is easy to see why Horwitz’s books were so prominent on Australian paperback racks in the early 1960s.