Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Chandlerama

Unlike music albums, books are constantly repackaged and re-covered. It's only rarely that the original jackets are resurrected, as with these new "he's been dead 50 years!" hardcover reissues of five of Raymond Chandler's Marlowe books, due from Penguin/Hamish Hamilton at the end of the month.







You can see a "series look" was emerging for the last two books, even in their first incarnations. (EDIT: These were actually the first two books, and I was confused. Sorry about that.)

Just for the hell of it, here are a few covers unlikely ever to be resurrected, each for a book to which Chandler contributed.





The "classic novel" by Chandler in that issue of 'Fantastic' magazine goes by the unlikely title Professor Bingo's Snuff.

UPDATE: Commenter Tulkinghorn helpfully pointed me towards this post on the Penguin blog, which details the interesting and suprisingly convoluted process involved in "recovering" these jacket designs.

11 comments:

Tropolist said...

"Unlike music albums books are constantly repackaged"

This drives me insane to no end. Much as I love book design I wish it was treated as integrally to the book as album art is to the music.

JRSM said...

It's strange--even acknowledged classics like the beautiful first 'Great Gatsby' cover vanish into the past.

John Self said...

Someone made this point to me once before - about how album artwork remains but books don't - and I had never thought about it before. I don't know why I don't object to books being rejacketed, but I don't. Maybe it's because bands are often involved in the artwork for their books, whereas authors aren't. Or maybe albums should be rejacketed regularly too.

Anyway, I may have misinterpreted your comments, JRSM, but I'm not sure what you mean when you say "You can see a "series look" was emerging for the last two books". The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely were the first two Marlowe novels, so presumably if a series look was developing, it would have stayed for the later ones?

And I am not sure why they have omitted The High Window from these reissues. Sure, it's not well known, but then neither is The Little Sister. Maybe the cover was pornographic, or racist, or something.

And they've also omitted the last Marlowe novel, Playback, though I'm led to believe that would be no great loss. Was the great man too drink-sodden to realise that The Long Good-bye was the perfect farewell?

John Self said...

Here's The High Window. Snazzy.

JRSM said...

That would have been a good cover to resurrect!

You're right--I had the order wrong in my head, remembering 'Long Goodbye''s plot as belonging to 'Farewell'. Balls. I'd better correct the post.

Peter L. Winkler said...

I happen to love the covers artist Tom Adams did for Ballantine's '70s editions of Chandler. They are more than evocative, they seduced me to pick up Chandler. I even like the typeface and the size and position of the text.

http://stevenhartsite.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/the-potency-of-cheap-paperback-covers-3/

JRSM said...

Those Tony Adams covers are great: I wasn't familiar with his work at all. Thanks, Peter! (And his Agatha Christie 'Death in the Clouds' cover he did is referenced in a Doctor Who episode where the time travellers encounter both Christie and a giant killer wasp)

Will said...

I congratulate you on finding the grossness that is the Lucifer's Society cover. I like to think that another civilization could arise which will resurrect this cover.

Here's my current favorite 70s pulp cover. I unsuccessfully convinced myself I was buying the collection for the Buzzati story.

JRSM said...

Cheers, Will: Perhaps that new civilisation will be peopled by people who look like that. That Mary Danby collection's cover is inspiredly nasty--and what an odd collection of writers. Probably the only place Bram Stoker and Buzzati share a book.

Tulkinghorn said...

In search of the Chandler covers: The designer tells the tale at the Penguin Blog:

http://thepenguinblog.typepad.com/the_penguin_blog/2009/03/in-search-of-chandler.html

JRSM said...

Excellent--thanks for the link! I'll add it to the post.