Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vintage Paperbacks Part III

More Richard Powers book covers today. While overall I think Zacherley's Vulture Stew from 1960 is a better cover, I still love Zacherley's Midnight Snacks. When you look at it you see amongst all of the nightmarish bric-a-brac surrounding Zacherley that there is a girl in a glass jar...or is it a girl? A doll, maybe? Brrrr. The 1961 anthology Things With Claws is pretty disturbing, itself. I see an open-mouthed African woman, armbones, a creepy bloodshot eye, and a very unusual looking profile of a man on the left side. To add to all of this imagery you have the claws of the title, well positioned to do some real damage.

Philip José Farmer is one of my favorite writers, so I was always glad he got a couple of covers by the master. "Alley God," the title story from this anthology, is about a race of Neanderthals still living amongst us, far beneath our notice, in the background of society. This was a surprise to me. I didn't realize this was by Powers until I saw it listed as one of his covers. It was first published in 1971 to illustrate what I thought at the time was the most imaginative science fiction I'd ever read, To Your Scattered Bodies Go. Of all of his covers this seems the most spare, but is extremely effective design, very eye-catching.

And finally, I'm throwing this in just to show that Powers didn't always use abstracts. No Other White Men, a paperback for young readers, was published by Comet Books in 1949. The cover and interior drawings are good, and Powers was a good illustrative artist in a mainstream style, but it's not great like his abstract work of 10 years later.

Ciao for now, El Postino

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