Wednesday 27 August 2008

Wodehouse Old & New

Searching for a particular P. G. Wodehouse quote, I came across the Random Wodehouse Quote Generator, and wasted some happy time laughing. (The quote I was after was from Bertie Wooster in Right Ho, Jeeves. As he attempts to storm out of a room, he turns to have the last word: '“Tinkerty tonk,” I said, and I meant it to sting.')

Anyway, this inevitably got me onto hunting down various Wodehouse covers. For several decades in the UK, almost every Wodehouse title has been published by Penguin, but late last year Random House took over the rights and has started pumping out the books under their Arrow imprint. In the US, Vintage and Everyman print the paperbacks and hardbacks respectively.

The most recent Penguin covers and the new Arrow covers are quite similar in spirit but different in execution, so I thought it would be interesting to look at them both, and compare them with other Wodehouse covers from the past. I'm only doing this for a couple of titles, as an attempt to round up all of the various covers for a writer who produced more than 90 books would kill me.

The first is Code of the Woosters, one of the classic Jeeves and Wooster books.

Here we have the Penguin version, with a cover illustration by the excellent David Hitch, who did all of the covers for this edition of the Wodehouse books.

This is the new Arrow version, cover artist as yet unkown to me--an Arrow art director simply says that they're "a fantastic Korean artist" in an interview. (UPDATE: A helpful commenter lets me know that the artist is Swan Park.)

Then we have the Vintage US edition, with an illustration from Marc Rosenthal, illustrator, children's-book and comics artist.

And this is the Everyman hardback, with a cover by Polish artist Andrzej Klimowski, who has similarly illustrated all the books in this edition of Wodehouse.

Then we have the Penguin Twentieth-Century Classic and Modern Classic editions, both using a detail from a lovely 1927 poster by Alfred Leele, 'The Lure of the Underground'.

And here's the (unfortunately low-resolution) poster.

Some other Code of the Woosters now. An American 1950s Ace edition:

Another Penguin from 1971:

A Folio Society edition from 1999:

An indeterminate edition from 1975:

And a Vintage edition from 1990:

Now we'll look at a different Wodehouse--Uncle Fred in the Springtime, one of the excellent Castle Blandings books. Again, we'll kick off with the David Hitch Penguin and the unknown new Arrow editions.

And here is the Klimowski 2004 Everyman edition:

Here we have earlier Penguins, from 1954, 1961 and 1979 respectively (cover artists unknown for the last two).

A Candian 1939 edition from McClelland & Stewart:

A Hutchinson hardback from 1987:

A Simon & Schuster US version from 1969:

And finally a Folio Society edition from 2004, with its slipcase.

UPDATE: The deeply wise Alan Trotter points out that "the old Penguin Code of the Woosters you show was done by Ionicus, who did all the Penguin Wodehouses for years: obituaries here and here. As far as I'm concerned, having grown up with his work, Ionicus is the only proper Wodehouse illustrator, though I like Klimowski too; most of the others are too cartoonish. Can I warn anybody tempted by the Modern Classics cover that this edition was appallingly proofread, to the extent that a number of jokes were spoiled or lost."

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Parker & Drummond

A visit to the excellent and thoughtful Ivebeenreadinglately drew my attention to the lovely new covers for the first three Richard Stark 'Parker' novels, which I've been meaning to read for ages, and now have no excuse to neglect.

These covers are by David Drummond, who maintains a fascinating blog about his work as a book cover design: required reading for cover obsessives like myself. Here are a bunch of his recent covers, culled from that blog, including a few that didn't make the cut, but which I think are excellent. Visit the blog for the background stories on all of these...AND MORE! Pleasingly, Drummond does most of his own photography, rather than relying on stock image libraries. And let's face it--anyone who can produce an elegant and witty cover for a book entitled Mapping Marriage Law in Spanish Gitano Communities is doing something right.

Lynd Ward

One of the most intriguing books I have recently read is Graphic Witness, a collection of four wordless graphic novels edited by George A. Walker. I bought it because I knew and love the work of Frans Masereel, one of the featured artists. I'll have to post about him later. An artist that was new to me is Lynd Ward.

Ward produced a number of wordless graphic novels, made up of a series of striking woodcuts in a sort of Expressionistic/Gothic/Art Deco style. Three of these have been recently republished in attractive, easily affordable editions by Dover, while another, Vertigo, seems to be out of print. A fifth, Song Without Words, I could not find a cover for.

Ward is probably best known, at least in his native US, for The Silver Pony, a children's book he wrote and illustrated.

He also did the covers (and illustrations) for a number of other children's books.

In addition, he has done covers and interior illustrations for a number of classic novels as well. The cover one without a title below is Richard Hughes' A High Wind in Jamaica. Of the Frankenstein, more to follow...

I found a couple of other books with his work on the covers.

Here are some of the marvellous interior illustrations for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Here are some of the pages from Gods' Man...

..from Mad Man's Drum...

..and from Song Without Words.

And here's an illustration for an edition of Beowulf that I can't trace.

Much more Ward can be found here, here and here (the last of which leads you to all of the Frankenstein illustrations--beware, though, that it also belongs to a mildly mad chap determined to prove that Percy Shelley wrote Frankenstein, rather than it being the work of Mary Shelley).

UPDATE: Will of A Journey Round My Skull has got his hands on a copy of the Beowulf (see comments), and has reproduced the beautiful artwork from it here. Go and look and marvel!