TRASHY TUESDAY: PHANTOM BOOKS #3 – COWL OF DOOM by Edward Ronns (aka Edward Sydney Aarons)
Australian Phantom Books were produced between 1951 and 1961. During that time they released around 300 titles, mostly digest-sized reprints of American titles by Ace, Gold Medal, Graphic and other publishers.
A strange feature of the Phantom books was that they usually featured direct copies of the original American cover art. So instead of just reprinting the original artwork, they hired someone to redraw them. Presumably this was to get around copyright and having to pay the original artist. The copies varied in quality, but in some cases they out-shone the original version. On occasion, however, the books featured new artwork far removed from the original. As far as I can tell, this was the case with the Cowl Of Doom by Edward Ronns.
The Cowl Of Doom was written by Edward Sydney Aarons, probably best known for his Sam Durell spy novels, under the pseudonym of Edward Ronns and released in 1938 as Death In A Lighthouse. It was re-released as a Hangman’s House Mystery (#13) in 1945 (?) under title of Cowl Of Doom.
The Phantom Books edition (1954) uses Cowl Of Doom title and features uncredited original artwork far removed from that used on the Hangman’s House edition (see below).
The drawing features many of the elements to be found on most of the Phantom covers, whether original or copied: bright colours, an attractive woman, a man with a gun and a menacing presence. It is quite a striking cover, although the art work is not great. The woman’s left arm seems elongated and unnatural in its positioning and her head is weirdly placed: it seems to be cropped onto her neck, rather than naturally turned.
A couple of minor things. The cuff of his shirt is a different colour (pink) from the rest of his white shirt and the white streaks in his very black hair seem very unnatural.
It is not a bad cover, but I cannot get past her weird head and uneven eyes!
For an example of the typical Phantom approach to copying covers see my posts of 7 April 2020 on W. T. Ballard’s Murder Can’t Stop: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/trashy-tuesday-murder-cant-stop-by-w-t-ballard-phantom-1955/ and 28 May 2019 on George Axelrod’s Blackmailer: https://murdermayhemandlongdogs.com/trashy-tuesday-blackmailer-by-george-axelrod-1953/