TRASHY TUESDAY: SHARK WEEK!
Sharks and terrors from the deep were popular staples of men’s adventure novels and magazines of the 1960s and 70s. Since this is apparently ‘shark week’ (9 to 16 August), I thought I would highlight a couple of shark covers (and an angry lobster) from my collection.
Victor Canning (1911-86) is probably an under appreciated British thriller writer, who produced some terrific novels in the 1950s to 80s, including some very dark spy novels towards the end of his career.
The Shark Run was originally published in 1955 as His Bones Are Coral (Twist Of The Knife in the US), but was retitled as The Shark Run when released in paperback in 1968. It was also made into a Burt Reynolds movie – Shark – in 1970.
Set on the Red Sea Coast is a good old style thriller about a former Fleet Air pilot turned dodgy charter pilot and drug smuggler, Howard Smith, becoming caught up in a risky diving venture in a seedy little port on the Red Sea. It is a good, short yarn that I will be reviewing in more detail in the next week.
The cover for The Shark Run is terrific. Although it does not represent an actual scene from the novel, it is a nice eye catching cover that makes good use of colour and movement. The red of the swim suit draws you into the centre of the picture and it is effectively framed by the circling dark shark shapes. The action at the centre of the picture is again well highlighted by the use of lighter colours and is quite well drawn. I also like the bottom of the boat in the distance, adding to the sense that help is a long way off. There is plenty of action in the drawing, but it is not over the top.
The drawing also sits well within the bright yellow of the cover’s background and the aqua blue of the font for Canning adds to the diving theme. It is a good cover. I do not know who the artist is, but it is certainly a step up from a lot of the covers that NEL used in the late 1960s.
Nick Carter was a staple of men’s adventure novels across the 1960s to the 1980s and East Of Hell was #227 in the Kill Master series. The drawing would seem to be by George Gross (you can see the beginning of signature in the bottom right corner).
It is a bit brighter than a lot of Gross’ covers and is a little bit different from his usual cover drawing, most of which featured Carter and a beautiful woman. The drawing has little relevance to the story, other than a bit of the action takes place at sea around Hong Kong, but it is certainly eye catching.
This cover from the 1961 edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Maracot Deep. First published in 1929 it is a far fetched tale about a deep sea diving expedition in the Atlantic Ocean and “a strange underwater community” – the lost city of Atlantis.
It is an old-fashioned cover, even for the early 1960s, and rather comical. The fearsome sea creature looks like an already cooked lobster with a kid’s toy thrust between it is claws. The artist does not convey a sense of movement and the diving ‘bell’ is too crudely drawn to be credible. The inclusion of the man and the woman at the top of the picture adds some sense of terror and danger, but overall it is a rather bland cover that would not have stood out against some of the more dramatic offerings of the early 1960s.