From Front To Back, It’s The Wraparound Cover Featuring Ian Miller

I’ve long since been fascinated by the endless inventiveness of book covers and a good designer’s approach to the artistry applied to such a relatively small surface area. This is an art-form now all but disappeared due to the proliferation of those chunky petrol station/supermarket paperbacks and e-books. I hope that I have presented some good examples of well designed covers from the past on these very pages to even things up a little though. For this week’s selection I decided to concentrate on a novel (oh dear, sorry for the pun) solution to this problem of working in such a small area by carrying the design work over onto the back cover. These pieces are not as common as you might imagine, people rarely look at the back of a book and so it’s always a huge bonus when I find a wraparound cover where I didn’t expect one. You should always check your back covers people!

The king of the wraparound (for me at least) is a chap from the UK called Ian Miller who has a website here. Pretty much everything he produces spills across the front cover and spine, flowing on to the back of the book like it just doesn’t want to stop. I wrote a short piece about him here which included eight of my then current favourite front covers but at that point I hadn’t figured out how to photograph the whole book without it looking rubbish or damaging the fragile spine by flattening it out so the article just didn’t have the impact I thought it deserved. I’ll always see that post as a missed opportunity and a bit of a flop despite it’s very respectable viewing figures.

Well, after lots of experimentation (and a little technical innovation) I finally developed a technique of successfully creating wraparound covers to sufficiently appease my exacting expectations and got an early chance to work with three of my favourite Ian Miller/H. P. Lovecraft pieces courtesy of my good friend, fellow paperback aficionado Teece. His bit can be found here and features Teece on words and me on images. The thoughts of that missed opportunity were beginning to recede after showing off these three covers in all their wraparound glory and seen fully as the artist intended.

This post should now finally put the personal humiliation of my dreaded missed opportunity well and truly behind me as I present eight full wraparound covers by Ian Miller. It’s only fair to admit that several titles have appeared before elsewhere on the blog but only as front cover photographs. This is the first time that they’ve appeared here in this fully extended format.

I’m really pleased to be showing these off as they’re not easy to shoot (especially the spine) and the post-processing always takes longer than you plan for but I think the results speak for themselves. Clicking on an image will result in a larger view of each cover so feel free to dive in and have a closer look.

I hope you enjoy this first batch of wraparounds as much as I did creating them, your comments are always gladly received;

R Is For Rocket by Ray Bradbury
This version was published in 1972 by Bantam Books
The cover artist is Ian Miller

Wraparound - Bradbury, R Is For Rocket

S Is For Space by Ray Bradbury
This version was published in 1978 by Bantam Books
The cover artist is Ian Miller

Wraparound - Bradbury, S Is For Space

The Golden Apples Of The Sun by Ray Bradbury
This version was published in 1979 by Bantam Books
The cover artist is Ian Miller

Bradbury Golden Apples Wraparound

Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick
This version was published in 1977 by Pan Books
The cover artist is Ian Miller

PKD Galactic Pot-Healer

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
This version was published in 1974 by Pan Books
The cover artist is Ian Miller

Wells The Time Machine

Long After Midnight by Ray Bradbury
This version was published in 1978 by Bantam Books
The cover artist is Ian Miller

Bradbury Long After Midnight

Beyond tomorrow edited by Damon Knight
This version was published in 1973 by Pan Books
The cover artist is Ian Miller

Knight Beyond Tomorrow

War Games by Brian Stableford
This version was published in 1981 by Pan Books
The cover artist is Ian Miller

stableford-war-games

A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe & Friends, Chapter 5

Rev Fanthorpe Frame

It’s been a tough old week for one reason or another and so this Sunday morning I’ve been looking forward to my illicit liaison with a beloved Badger book all the more. This week’s title is by Leo Brett, a name which was a pseudonym for the good Reverend Fanthorpe and one of his many staff writing partners Harry O. Mansfield.

The cover is typically great Fox fare, everything about the astronaut’s suit is just brilliant especially the side trouser pockets, lovely black leather belt and that amazing capsule-like helmet. They just don’t make ‘em like that any more! The surface of the planet also looks surprisingly like well laid flagstones or maybe even linoleum squares – is there a B&Q out in space?

The tagline on the front of the book reads;

“Out there beyond the planet something incredible was watching.”

And there it is looming large in the background – a sort of green furry something with shockingly bloodshot eyes and no discernible mouth (although it is partially obscured by the astronaut and therefore could resemble something like a Polo mint making it impossible to see.) What could this all mean? Well, there’s only one way to find out and that’s to dive in and reveal the secrets for myself which are no doubt hidden somewhere within these musty pages.

I hope that you enjoy the cover shot, let me know your thoughts over in the comments;

Power Sphere by Leo Brett
This version was published in 1963 by Badger Books
The cover artist is H. Fox

Badger - Brett Power Sphere

A Word Of Thanks To Genuine & Friendly eBay Sellers

It makes a lot of sense to say that my number one source for secondhand books is eBay. Decent bookshops for my kind of reading material are sadly almost non-existent in my area and online book dealers can sometimes be far too mercenary when it comes to the prices they want for anything they deem to be rare in any way. No, I can sit on my couch with a cup of tea and my iPad on my lap as I browse in comfort. It’s obviously a very hit and miss affair, search for any given author and you’ll invariably get dozens of new editions up for sale or fairly tatty examples of older works. It’s off piste or weirdly random where things start to get interesting. Sometimes I can go for weeks without so much as a sniff then all of a sudden I hit a long list of great books – all of which I must have of course, often from the same seller.

I’ve made some great contacts through eBay too, sellers who genuinely communicate in a friendly way and maybe even offer deals for frequent buyers. People who refund excess postage without having to be asked or just send a pleasant message to say “thanks for buying my books” or “hello again, nice to have you back”. I even have the pleasure of occasionally buying from a lady who meticulously wraps each book in coloured tissue paper and includes a small handwritten card making them far more like little presents than mere vintage paperbacks (thanks Bernie!) It makes the world a better place to be in and I’m glad to be doing business with people just like these, some of whom I have come to call real friends over the years despite having never met any of them in person.

This week’s selection of book covers, online purchases each and every one is dedicated to those very eBay sellers who have managed through their generosity and kind actions to put a smile on my usually worldweary face (I mean, have you seen my Gravatar, I gave the photographer my full repertoire of “blissfully happy with not a care in the world” looks and this is the best he could come up with!) – for that very fact ladies and gentlemen of eBay, I for one would like to take this opportunity to stand up and thank you heartily. Please carry on doing what you’re doing well and take pleasure in the knowledge that there are some of us out here snapping up your wares whilst greatly appreciating your efforts in recognising us as living, breathing customers with feelings too – actual human beings rather than a mere software trigger to demand the moving of a package from one location to another.

Now, enough sentimental noodling, let’s get to the best bit – books! Here’s my choice of five, all eBay purchases mind. Feel free to comment on any aspect of the article above or just the book covers, I always look forward to our conversations.

The People Maker by Damon Knight
This version was published in 1959 by Zenith Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Knight The People Maker

The Pandora Effect by Jack Williamson
This version was published in 1969 by Ace Books
The cover artist is C. Gross

Williamson The Pandora Effect

A Funeral For The Eyes Of Fire by Michael Bishop
This version was published in 1975 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is Gene Szafran

Bishop A Funeral For The Eyes Of Fire

City Of A Thousand Suns by Samuel R. Delany
This version was published in 1969 by Sphere Books
The cover artist is Russell Fitzgerald

Delany City Of A Thousand Suns

Ladies Day / This Crowded Earth by Robert Bloch
This version was published in 1968 by Belmont Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Bloch Ladies Day - This Crowded Earth

From The Library Of The Unsubscriber No.7, A Speedily Haphazard Approach

It’s been a relatively busy past week with parcels arriving every day so far which has given me less time to flick through the bookcases for potential blog post covers than I normally like. And so I’ve not spent too much time making my selections this week – other pressing activities have got in the way too but I have enjoyed the randomness that has appeared by following such a hurried and haphazard approach.

I apologise to all my readers for spending a little less time browsing than I usually do but I hope you thoroughly enjoy the following five books presented here all the same, let me know what you think in the comments;

Three Worlds To Conquer by Poul Anderson
This version was published in 1966 by Mayflower-Dell Books
The cover artist is signed as ‘Jacks’

Anderson Three Worlds To Conquer

Three Worlds To Conquer by Poul Anderson
This version was published in 1964 by Belmont Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Belknap Long Odd Science Fiction

Cycle Of Fire by Hal Clement
This version was published in 1966 by Corgi Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Clement Cycle Of Fire

The Day Before Tomorrow by Gerald Klein
This version was published in 1972 by Daw Books
The cover artist is Josh Kirby

Klein The Day Before Tomorrow

The Sleep Eaters by John Lymington
This version was published in 1967 by Macfadden Books
The cover artist is Jack Faragasso

Lymington The Sleep Eaters

A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe & Friends, Chapter 4

Rev Fanshawe Portrait

I was all fingers and thumbs this morning as I tried to decide which of my Badger books I should take for today’s sermon or just go for the one with skimpy bikini-clad woman fighting off some unspeakable horror. This was a piece of genius of Badger’s part, take a word count constrained piece of sci-fi fluff and dress it up in a lurid cover – these things flew off the shelves. It wasn’t just Badger either, I have the same kind of covers gracing books from the likes of Ace, Corgi, Arrow and not mention my other favourite in this field – Digit.

In the end, I opted for a Fanthorpe penned title – A Supernatural Special rather than a regular Badger title which I thought captured the Halloween spirit perfectly. It has a fantastically lurid cover featuring a green skinned colossus with light shooting from his eyes whilst a pretty brunette cowers open-mouthed in the corner. You just know that a book with a cover like this will be a thumping great read don’t you? Is anyone else enjoying these Sunday missives from the Badger archives as I am?

The Unconfined by R. L. Fanthorpe
This version was published in 1966 by Badger Books
The cover artist is H. Fox

Badger - Fanthorpe Unconfined

Fifteen Penguin Covers By Franco Grignani

*Warning* This post contains a lot of images (fifteen to be precise) to scroll through at the bottom of this written piece but they’re all well worth taking  a look at. Apologies in advance…

I’ve written once before that putting together a collection of anything can be a frustrating and disheartening endeavour before indulging in the pleasure afforded by it’s eventual completion. Sometimes however, that completion can never seem to be obtained as is the case with this series of books.

It all began a year or so ago ago when I discovered a great website called The Art Of Penguin Science Fiction (here) through a friend and began clicking on the thumbnails of book covers to discover more about them. I had a few books in my collection at that time but this resource has been an invaluable tool for me since its discovery. I have used it to assemble several fine collections of Penguin SF titles along with a few partial collections – this one included.

I’ve been here so many times before – a few easy finds with low prices, a false sense of security. Then the hunt begins in earnest, eBay is no use and it’s time to hit up the dealers & contacts I have in the trade. This can be a hit or miss affair as the last book or two can command serious prices depending on author, condition etc. Usually however, I somehow manage to get across the line… but not this time.

Back in 1969, Penguin’s new art director David Pelham commissioned Italian designer and experimental photographer Franco Grignani to produce a series of art pieces for a series of books to be published that year and into 1970. Grignani’s approach was unique at the time using shattered mirrors, oil, water and other substances to reflect images which he would then photograph. To quote the website;

“Grignani’s black covers and single-colour images form a kaleidoscope of shimmering dreams and shattered nightmares. They are like a free association of thoughts mapped out in watery reflections that briefly coalesce and then disperse, leaving memories of figures trapped in the fragments of a looking-glass. They hint at other dimensions and warped worlds where space swims and time shudders. Viewed as a set they would not look out of place if framed and hung on the walls of an art gallery. The thought of sixteen black spines lined up on a bookshelf seems somewhat prosaic by comparison”.

Like the David Pelham cover article I wrote before this (here) I thought that it would be great to hang all sixteen covers in a pixelated art gallery for the denizens of cyberspace to gaze at rather than having those black spines look out at me from my library shelf. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

It’s been almost a year since I bought the last title in this collection and eBay has been unkind since then. My trade contacts have not had a sniff of the final book I need, most admitting that they’ve never even seen copies come up for sale. Because of this, I have decided to share what I have – fifteen Penguin covers by Franco Gignani and hope that I find my missing copy – The Day It Rained Forever by Ray Bradbury – because it will have a good home waiting for it here amongst it’s brothers.

The Productions Of Time by John Brunner

Brunner The Productions of time

Berserker by Fred Saberhagen

Saberhagen Berserker

The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber

Leiber The Wanderer

Bill, The Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison

Harrison Bill The Galactic Hero

Search The Sky by Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth

Pohl Kornbluth Search The Sky

The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick

PKD The Penultimate Truth

Rork! by Avram Davidson

Davidson Rork

Starchild by Frederick Pohl and Jack Williamson

Pohl Williamson Starchild

The Judgement Of Eve by Edgar Pangborn

Pangborn The Judgement Of Eve

The Squares Of The City by John Brunner

Brunner The Squares Of The City

Davy by Edgar Pangborn

Pangborn Davy

The Traps Of Time edited by Michael Moorcock

Moorcock Traps Of Time

Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber

Leiber Conjure Wife

The Reefs Of Space by Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson

Pohl Williamson The Reefs Of Space

Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick

PKD Time Out Of Joint

As the above quote states, “The thought of sixteen black spines lined up on a bookshelf seems somewhat prosaic by comparison”. I tend to agree with that perspective entirely as here’s the regular view I get from my library – not the merest hint of the incredible art contained on each of those covers;

Spines On Shelf

Tales Of Weirdness By Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith (born 1893) was an American poet, sculptor, painter and author of fantasy, horror and science fiction short stories. He also conducted a literary friendship with the great H. P. Lovecraft which spanned fifteen years until Lovecraft’s untimely death at the age of only 46. In 1935 after a series of deaths including his mother in 1935, his father in 1937 and Lovecraft later that year, he all but abandoned writing fiction to concentrate on his sculpture. He also returned to his earlier love of poetry. Smith died in his sleep after a number of strokes in 1961 aged 68.

Much of Smith’s work can be characterised by his decidedly morbid fascinations, these were shot through with a sardonic humour that repelled some readers at the time his short stories were being published in magazines such as Weird Tales and Astounding Stories.

My particular favourites by Smith are his collected volumes of decidedly weird fiction and Lovecraft inspired Cthulhu Mythos tales which were set in fantastical, semi-mythical worlds and divided into story cycles.

The following represents my entire collection of works by Clark Ashton Smith although I’m missing a single volume from these Panther reprints – The Abominations Of Yondo – which is proving to be a real rarity as I have been searching for a copy for some years now to no avail.

If you’re not yet familiar with the writing of Clark Ashton Smith, now’s your chance to discover the weirdness that you’ve been missing all this time.

Genius Loci by Clarke Ashton Smith
This version was published in 1974 by Panther Books
The cover artist is Bruce Pennington

Genius Loci

Lost Worlds, Volume 1 by Clarke Ashton Smith
This version was published in 1974 by Panther Books
The cover artist is Bruce Pennington

Lost Worlds Vol 1

Lost Worlds Volume 1, by Clark Ashton Smith
This version was published in 1974 by Panther Books
The cover artist is Bruce Pennington

Lost Worlds Vol 2

Out of Space & Time, Volume 1 by Clarke Ashton Smith
This version was published in 1974 by Panther Books
The cover artist is uncredited - although it was probably Painted by Bruce Pennington given the fact that all of these books are completed in his style and were issued during 1974/1976.

Out Of Space & Time Vol 1

Out of Space & Time, Volume 2 by Clarke Ashton Smith
This version was published in 1974 by Panther Books
The cover artist is uncredited - although it was probably Painted by Bruce Pennington given the fact that all of these books are completed in his style and were issued during the same year.

Out Of Space & Time Vol 2

Out of Space & Time, Volume 1 by Clarke Ashton Smith
This version was published in 1976 by Panther Books
The cover artist is uncredited - although it was probably Painted by Bruce Pennington given the fact that all of these books are completed in his style and were issued during the same year.

Tales Of Science And Sorcery

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