4/24/12

Vintage Reads #35:Terrifically Tacky Espionage Paperback Covers


How can you top a Robert McGinnis paperback cover? His amazing illustrations did for espionage/mystery/action paperbacks what Norman Rockwell did for The Saturday Evening Post and what Frazetta did for fantasy fiction.  The artwork sold the item every bit as much (and often more) as the content itself.  And it wasn't due to lurid sexual imagery; it was pure artistic prowess that didn't need to resort to shock value.

Then came the 70s (or you could say the latter part of the 60s), and some would say taste went out the window. Not I; however.  I can appreciate the change from the distinctive style of McGinnis and his many imitators to the tawdry photography-based espionage/mystery/action covers that came out during the seventies.  Times had changed.  We weren't living in the halcyon days of James Bond, Sinatra, and martinis anymore.... it was Shaft, The Ohio Players, and weed. Needless to say, book jackets needed to change accordingly.

So, here is a gallery of espionage/mystery/action paperback covers.  I don't separate the three genres because there is such overlap, and I want to avoid any commentors angrily informing me that a certain cover is from an action novel and is most definitely not from an espionage novel.  Get it straight, Gilligan.


Please note: I recently did an Espionage & Action cover gallery post, and several of these pictures have been reposted (#24-34).  Unlike that one, though, this post features only photographic covers, and a lot of these covers are new to Retrospace (#1-23).


1 (As usual, click on all images for larger size)

2-3

4-5

6-7

8-9

10-11

12-13

14

15-16

17-18

19-20
21-22

23

24-25

26-27

28-29

30-31

32-33

34

8 comments:

  1. What's going on on the cover of "A Redhead for Mike Shayne"? Now there's confidence for you; does he not know how to operate a gun?

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  2. Why do I hear "Tonight's episode.." and "A Quinn-Martin production" in my head while reading these titles?

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  3. I'm not sure that "Written by Convicted Watergate Conspirator" is much a selling point.

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  4. Oh God...Nick Carter novels. Back when I was a burgeoning teenager it was the done thing for all boys aged 12-15 to read either Nick Carter or Sven Hassell novels. They had a couple of things in common: Both were supposedly written by the main character of the stories but the Carter ones never pretended to be memoirs like Hassell's. The Carter novels seemed to be churned out by a writing machine and I don't remember much about them except that Carter was known as a "Killmaster" and he had a penchant for dispatching his enemimes with cunningly disguised grenades.

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    Replies
    1. Nice to see some of my cover scans here. More here at... http://suspenseandmystery.blogspot.com/

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  5. I'm surprised that long established mystery writers like Ellery Queen and Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason) went along with racy covers.

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  6. It's funny but a lot of these look like someone just took a Mcginnis piece and said "I want a photo that looks like this but with real live people"

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  7. AnonymousJune 24, 2012

    That first cover has to be the Most Interesting Man in the World, back when he was just a lad.

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