Or “Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover”.
I’ve been working again in the garden all day. Now that autumn is here there’s a lot to cut back and dig up. So I’m not in a great mood to do any story reviews today. I’ll have a lot more time to write reviews once the weather turns bad in a few weeks. I hope that all of you are cool with this.
I’ve been reading H. P. Lovecraft since 1971 when on my way home from school I found a copy of “The Shadow over Innsmouth and Other Horror Stories” that someone had lost. This was a genuine case of “their loss, my gain”. This was the HPL collection that they were peddling to little kids through the “Scholastic Book Club”. The “Scholastic Book Club” was also my first introduction to Poe, Wells, Finney, Kersh, Collier and Stoker. Not bad stuff for a publisher specializing in affordable paperbacks for grade schoolers!
The cover to the Scholastic edition wasn’t anything to write home about, but it didn’t detract from the reading experience either. I’ve always believed that a great cover can’t save a bad book, even if it does help with the sales though. The great artwork of the legendary “Frank Frazetta” has graced the cover of many a shitty novel. A poor choice of artwork can’t ruin a good book either, even if it might hinder sales. Once in a while there is that rare and special thing though. You have the perfect mating of cover artist and author. This is a wonderful thing when it happens. Luckily this happened twice with the Ballantine Lovecraft editions of the early 1970s. The covers of the Lovecraft paperbacks published by Ballantine books during the early 1970s had cover art by “Gervasio Gallardo” and “Murray Tinkelman”. Both of these men took the Lovecraft themed artwork way beyond the typical gothic horror covers that had been used for earlier HPL editions. Both of these artists were able to evoke the mood of otherworldiness that played such a huge part of Mr. Lovecraft’s writings. The later covers by “Michael Whelan” in the 1980s are iconic in their own right, but he only manages to invoke the uniqueness of HPL’s vision as far as his horror stories are concerned. Sadly Mr. Whelan does not manage to tap above the underlying current of strangeness or otherness that ran through all of Mr. Lovecraft’s writings and not just his straight out horror stories. So, for me at least, Mr. Whelan’s cover art doesn’t manage to tap into the heart of what makes these stories so very special to me. Mr’s Gallardo and Tinkelman have managed this perfectly, as far as I am concerned. And in closing, the less we say about the later 1970s cover by “John Holmes” the better. Don’t get me wrong though, no matter what your taste in art is, all 4 of these men were/are master artists and illustrators. And not just graphic designers who seem to be doing all of today’s book art.
Unless other wise stated these are all scans of my own books.
The cover art of "Gervasio Gallardo"
The cover art of "Murray Tinkelman"
The inside cover illustrations by Mr. tinkelman.
The Horror in the museum
The Dream quest of Unknown Kadath
The Mask of Cthulhu
The Doom that came to Sarnath
The Trail of Cthulhu
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
Take care and thanks for stopping by!
Starting next week I’ll be doing at least 2 Halloween themed posts. I can’t believe that it’s already Octobers-Eve. It’s been a fast year.