A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 7

Rev Fanthorpe Frame

Another Sunday begins and so does the search for another Badger book to while away a few hours. I seem to remember picking this one up as part of a job lot but then I could be mistaken (as I often am these days). Still, all that really matters is that this looks like yet another cracker from the House of Badger!

The author John E. Muller is of course a pseudonym for the prolific trio of staff writers during this particularly fertile period of the 60s – R. L. Fanthorpe, John S. Glasby and A. A. Glynn.

Once again, that all-important tagline is present on the cover and states;

“She was lost in a weird, wild dimension – full of strange Secrets.”

Another great cover adorns the book; a young, blonde scientist/nurse fiddles with some sparking electronic equipment whilst a disembodied face etched with concern – possibly of the chief scientific officer himself – looms over her in half-shadow. Not as lurid as some cover art included in this series granted but I love this image for its simplicity and sense of explosive foreboding.

It’s time to step into this weird, wild dimension and find out the answers to those strange secrets…

Phenomena X by John E. Muller
(Serial Number SF116)
This version was published in 1966 by Badger Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Badger - Muller, Phenomenax

The Abominations Of Yondo And A Huge Thanks

I’ve been a WordPress blogger for almost two years now and unsubscribedblog is my one and only endeavour on the web. I ran a previous blog covering new music releases on a rival site which, over the course of a year became inexplicably huge to the point where my hits per week where sometimes upwards of five figures. I was eventually contacted by a ‘proper’ online music site who wanted to ‘subsume my demographic’ and offered me a paid tenure with their grubby organ which I turned down due to unreasonably restrictive T&Cs. I told them it was about passion not money, they said they understood completely… and offered me a bigger retainer fee. I’d had enough of blogging at that point, it felt grubby and lonely – a faceless world of voiceless readers swimming in a sea of my words. I got out and vowed to stay out, but…

I have no idea why I jumped ship to WordPress and started another blog, especially one with such a  ridiculously narrow premise (not to mention unsearchable name) as this; Pictures of hoary old science fiction paperback covers and the odd quip about what music I’d been listening to. It hardly smelt of success. But it wasn’t success I craved, I needed an outlet for some of my slightly disturbing obsessions and a little community spirit within which to share it. I told myself that if I got only one hit per day then I’d carry on writing because at least there was someone reading and connecting somewhere. Thankfully I get a lot more than one person visiting the blog each day but what I do get that I never really developed whilst running an infinitely more ‘successful’ site (in terms of statistics) is interaction. Readers of the old blog were selfish, they consumed and moved on like digital predators but here people often like to stop and take the time to click on a button that says ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’. Sometimes they even hang around long enough to write a few words in a comments box about a post they’ve just read or a cool book cover that caught their eye. That’s my measure of success and not a load of charts, graphs, tag clouds and trend-lines.

There’s a reason for me coming over all confessionally gooey like this today. I’m not feeling too well. my health has been very poor these past few months and I’m struggling a bit to be honest. I’ve just been in hospital and am currently on ward leave so I can spend some time at home relaxing. It’s all been a bit of an ordeal. I’m not looking for sympathy here and we’ll say no more about the subject but on the morning I went into hospital a book arrived through the post for me, a very special book indeed.

At the start of this month I published a post about the esteemed author, poet, sculptor, painter and friend of H. P. Lovecraft – Mr Clark Ashton Smith. After my introductory preamble I presented six cover photographs of books which represented my incomplete collection of 1970s Panther reprints, the seventh still being as elusive as it ever was. A few days later, I received a comment from a person under the name of ‘franzwesten’ who just happened to mention that he had a spare copy of Yondo which he would gladly send to me free of charge. We hurriedly swapped details and the following day an email arrived from a chap called Mr Read with photos of the book to see if it met my exacting standards. I was absolutely thrilled and delighted that not only had someone read the article I had prepared but cared enough to comment on it and ultimately share his spare copy of a book I have literally spent years looking for.

I’ve long since been a huge fan of blogging, the community spirit that exists and sheer torrent of ideas, imagination, inspiration and knowledge is astounding. This however is something altogether above and beyond the idea of that digital community, sharing actual physical objects with complete strangers just because you have a shared interest in a particular topic on the internet is very special.

I obviously haven’t had time before now but today I photographed the book and then updated the original article (which is here if you haven’t already seen it). I’ve now decided to write this which I suppose is an open letter of thanks to Mr Read for his kindness and generosity in selflessly sharing a rare book which has completed a collection, therefore making me a very happy man.

It’s probably courteous to note here that Mr Read runs his own very well produced and extremely erudite website/blog called Lankhmar – The Fritz Leiber Homepage which can be accessed here.

We should all make sure that we keep on writing, reading, liking, commenting and sharing via our many and disparate blogs as it truly does engender a sense of community. Also, you wouldn’t believe the difference that producing or reading these humble little blogs make to some people’s lives.

Finally, here’s a cover shot of that special book in question;

The Abominations Of Yondo by Clark 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 the books covered in the article linked to above are completed in his style and were issued during the same period.

The Abominations Of Yondo

From Front To Back, It’s The Return Of The Wraparound Cover

Last week I wrote an article about the limited amount of space an artist has to work with on a book cover, especially now everything has to be designed specifically for reduction to a tiny JPG for the eBook market. In the post I praised those fearless few who didn’t stop where they were supposed to but crossed the spine and extended their vision onto the back cover too. I concentrated on Ian Miller who I think is one of the finest exponents of this particular brand of artistry but I wanted to show some other fine examples I have on my shelves too.

I was browsing my library and was surprised to find a few books with such covers that I had forgotten about and one I had never even discovered and so started making a pile to work through. Once again, I have included a few books that I’ve already featured as front cover photographs only but they’ve never been presented in the full wraparound format before due to my lack of knowledge to enable me to achieve satisfactory results.

The photography part is relatively easy, I use a small light box and tripod for the front and back covers but the spine can be extremely tricky to negotiate given the fragility of some of these books. Once I have these raw materials, the fun starts in post production which is all carried out by hand. It can take an age to complete something with a complicated design or a faded, cracked spine. I’m aware that there are software packages available now which do this work automatically but I think the results look very poor, I’ll do it all by myself thanks very much. I always get the same buzz when I complete a wraparound cover though, three individual photographs morphed seamlessly into a single whole and not a join in sight!

So, it’s from this selection of titles that I present a further eight glorious wraparound covers to feast your eyes on. Once again, I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did slaving over a hot MacBook Pro creating them. Don’t forget, clicking on an image will result in a larger view of each cover so there’s more detail to dig around in. If you have any good wraparounds sitting in your collection, let me know in the comments;

Note – I haven’t included any of the glorious wraparounds which were included in an article called Twelve More Richard Powers Covers (here) as that would just be plain cheating, not to mention bone idle of me!

Brain Wave by Poul Anderson
This version was published in 1954 by Ballantine Books
The cover artist is Richard Powers

Wraparound - Anderson, Brain Wave

The Omega Point by George Zebrowski
This version was published in 1972 by Ace Books
The cover artist is Bob Pepper

Zebrowski Omega Point Wraparound

The Duelling Machine by Ben Bova
This version was published in 1977 by Puffin Books
The cover artist is Peter Goodfellow

This one is a bit of a cheat as it pauses at the spine rather than crosses it but when put together like this this I think it looks stunning.

Bova The Dualing Machine

Immortality Inc. by Robert Sheckley
This version was published in 1978 by Peacock Books/Penguin
The cover artist is Peter Goodfellow

Sheckley Wraparound

Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys
This version was published in 1973 by Arrow Books
The cover artist is Chris Yates

Budrys Rogue Moon

Kalin by E. C. Tubb
This version was published in 1973 by Arrow Books
The cover artist is Chris Yates

Tubb Wraparound

The Patchwork Girl by Larry Niven
This version was published in 1982 by Orbit Books
The cover artist is Peter Jones

Wraparound - Niven The Patchwork Girl

Solar Lottery by Philip K. Dick
This version was published in 1972 by Arrow Books
The cover artist is Chris Yates

Dick Solar Lottery

A Badger Book On Sunday With The Reverend R. L. Fanthorpe, Chapter 6

Rev Fanthorpe Frame

Another Sunday has arrived and so it’s time for me to delve into my ever-expanding collection of Badger Books once more for something to satiate my weekend pulp SF fix. I’ve chosen another Fanthorpe penned title, partly due to the excellent cover (do Badgers have any other kind of cover?) and also because I was so intrigued by that all-important tagline on the front of the book;

“Her dream became a nightmare as she probed the alien ruins”

Now, I don’t know about you but if I was mucking about on another world probing alien ruins that are clearly enveloped in some kind of eerie yellow gas then I wouldn’t be wearing a strapless chiffon evening gown to do so. I wonder if she’s wearing kitten heels and carrying a matching clutch bag to store her astronautic accessories in? Her colleague is clearly much better prepared for probing activities as he has donned a full radiation suit complete with a welding helmet and sturdy mittens to protect him from all manner of potential atomic dangers. There’s no wonder your dream will become a nightmare if you arrive on any kind of alien world improperly attired!

I’m also a little unsure about the title of this novel and wonder if they’ve got neuron (which is a nerve cell) confused with neutron (which is a subatomic particle). There’s only one way to find out what the hell is going on and that’s to get stuck in!

Neuron World by R. L. Fanthorpe
This version was published in 1965 by Badger Books
The cover artist is uncredited

Badger - Fanthorpe Neuron World

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, 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