Thursday 20 December 2012


There's an ebook publisher called Prologue Books, who do sterling work in resurrecting infamous and sometimes even very good pulp novels from (mainly), the 1940s to 1970s. Often their covers are the standard modern version of pulp covers--moody photos of men with guns, women reclining on beds, and shiny spaceships--but sometimes they've taken the slightly disconcerting step of recreating the original pulp cover images with modern technology. Somehow, mid-20th-Century sexploitation and sleaze looks wrong when rendered in clean digital photography and with sleek Photoshop filters. Here are some examples...


The painted cover is a hell of a lot sexier (that naked back) and sinister than its photo(shopped) equivalent: the painted man above looks like a dangerous intruder, the photographed man below looks as though he's going out to buy milk after experiencing erectile dysfunction.


Vin Packer was really Marijane Meaker, who was for a while the lover of Patricia Highsmith, and author of a disappointing memoir about their relationship.


This fantastic cover by Robert Maguire just doesn't have the same kick redone photographically.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Spines, Legs, Horrible Films, Cigarettes

A book coming out in January, that appears to be a satire on creative writing classes, with a rather nifty cover:

Interestingly, though the book is published by Cape, part of Vintage UK, it actually calls back to the once-characteristic plain white spines of old Picador paperbacks.

First Novel is not the first book by that title. In 1999 Harvill published a book by the same name written by Mazarine Pingeot, the "secret daughter" of arch-shit and former French president François Mitterand. The book was no good, and was seemingly only published because she was the "secret daughter" of arch-shit and former French president François Mitterand, and piles of this book could be found in remainder bookshops for years afterwards.

It uses a well-known photo, 'Sense' by Tono Stano, that was later bought and fucked with by MGM to become the poster for the famously crap film 'Showgirls'.

And just so that, if I get hit by a bus later today, that's not the last image I ever post, here's a cover design from Picador a couple of years ago that I somehow missed when it came out: the clever cigarette-pack packaging of Stuart Evers's Ten Stories About Smoking.

Thursday 13 December 2012

The Startling, Here and Elsewhere

The absorbing blog of amazing photos, If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats, has instituted a new category, for strange book covers. This is to be applauded. Here are their finds from the last 24 hours (I know I first saw the Espionaje cover at 50 Watts). There seems to be a bit of a boobtastic focus so far...

On another tack, can I just say that Erich Kästner's Going to the Dogs, recently resurrected by NYRB with a suitably seedy Christian Schad painting on the front, is one of the most purely enjoyable books I've read all year?

The painting is Schad's 'Self-Portrait with Model' (1927).

Here are a couple of other similarly unnerving Schads: 'Appendectomy in Geneva' and 'Agosta, the Pigeon-Chested Man, and Rasha, the Black Dove' (both 1929).

Click the paintings for much bigger versions.

Saturday 8 December 2012

Writers No One Reads 2

My second Writer No One Reads entry, George Edgerton (Mary "Chav" Chavelita Dunne) is up here.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Elegance, Censorship, Bondage

Two elegant design solutions for two upcoming Penguin Classics; the first is a January reissue of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the second a new translation of one of the works of Gabriel d'Annunzio, who was politically awful but a rather brilliant writer.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Ralph Steadman Addendum II

Preliminary Note: My apologies for the slow-down in posts recently. Preparing for the arrival of a baby, currently causing Mrs Caustic Cover Critic endless back and hip pain, has necessitated the moving around and boxing up of hundreds and hundreds of books in order to make room for said baby and her stuff. This has meant less blogging time, and less enthusiasm for talking about books after spending hours hauling the buggers about the place.

Anyway, today I have moved no books and have the time to post, and what a fine collection of covers I have for you. They're the final(?) items from David C Smith's incredibly extensive Ralph Steadman collection--see the first 92 items here. I have to thank David, who has had to do a lot of tunnelling around in boxed up books himself to liberate these to be photographed. He is a hero.

Click any image for a much bigger version...

Steadman's brand new book: a slideshow of some of the interior art is available here

A Steadman self-portrait