Sunday 18 October 2009

Terry James

Pedro Marques, proprietor of the most excellent bilingual book cover/design blog Montag, recently drew my attention to the work of a mysterious designer I had never heard of. His name is Terry James, and Pedro had found a series of the covers he had done for the now defunct British Science Fiction Book Club in the 1960s.

In attempting to find out more about him, we discovered that he had also done a lot of work for the British Reader's Union reprint book club, at least until 1970. Unfortunately, we don't know where to go next to discover more. It doesn't help that any attempt to track him down online is frustrated by the omnipresence of a Christian end-times fanatic writer of the same name. So, does anyone out there know any more about him?

In the meantime, here are some of his covers for the Science Fiction Book Club: all were monochrome and photographic, but also mysterious and intriguing. Again, thanks for these go to Pedro.


Pedro Marques, by the way, is himself a talented designer: see his work here.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I hope he doesn't turn out to be THE rapture-obsessed author... lol

I see you added more covers. Great! Thank you for the feedback!


Anonymous said...

Now that I think of it, the opening titles for Thames Television's THE TOMORROW PEOPLE (1973) are strangely akin to the monochromatic aesthetics of James's covers:

Strangely because, by 1973, the standards for SF imagery were far below the poetic abstractions in B&W shown in those covers and in part of those titles.

Pedro Marques

JRSM said...

Wow! I'd never seen 'The Tomorrow People', but those credits really do fit the same aesthetic vibe as the Terry James stuff.

You're right about the imagery, too. It was always disappointing with 'Doctor Who', the way the amazing music and strange opening credits, with weird shapes and whooshing vortices, would lead into stories full of rubbery costumes and flimsy sets.

Anonymous said...

Maybe because it was a "children's" show, they of course could not show some of the imagery that began to appear in SF book covers at that time. And since TV was mostly B&W then, they astutely used the monochrome at its best.

(I have clear memories of watching as a 5 year old in complete awe – and some fear – this sequence whenever I could catch it around 6 p.m on Portuguese TV around 1976. Still has a haunting feel to it.)

JRSM said...

Actually, that makes sense--black and white could cover up some of the flmisiness of effects/sets/costumes, etc, and make a virtue of the problem, the same way that some of the done-on-the-cheap 1940s noir movies are absolutely beautiful to look at.

Matthew Adams said...

These are great covers. While science fiction has it's share of horrible covers, at least it has covers like these to boast about. I have yet to see much in the fantasy field to match it.

Bob Fingerman said...

Those art really intriguing. The Age of the Pussyfoot in particular. That one is eerily enticing.

Ben said...

These covers are beautiful - eerie '70s British sci-fi to the nth degree, as has been noted.

I've got an SF Book Club edition of Colin Wilson's "The Mind Parasites", with a similarly abstract b&w cover design, presumably by also Terry James although it's not quite as good or eye-catching as the ones you've posted.

They're a really distinctive looking series of books though - I'd definitely pick up any more I happened to see, regardless of literary quality.

JRSM said...

Bob and Ben--they are eerily lovely. Many of the books ARE good, I should add. Pohl, Disch and Sturgeon are almost always worth reading, in particular.