Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Guess Who Dunnit? Part 3

More paperback cover art mysteries from David Roach

Here’s the star of my next batch of unknown covers for you. Both late 50s Corgi books, both almost certainly US reprints and both rather lovely. The Pastures Of Heaven looks exactly like Ben Stahl to me... but did he paint paperback covers? (Yes, see some examples here ~ Leif)

* Addendum: Ben Stahl confirmed here.

The other one could be one of many great '50s artists working in the shadow of James Avati, though here the quality of drawing underneath the paints is absolutely top notch.


There couldn’t be more of a contrast here! Montana Fury is gorgeous and I’d swear it was Robert McGinnis except it doesn’t appear on the list in his paperback books so I guess it could be someone like Ron Lesser instead.


Actually it’s one of those strange situations where I’m more certain of the model who in this case is obviously Steve Holland, best known as James Bama’s model for Doc Savage.

The other cover is a classic piece of sleeze but with an unusually comic-styled cover. The question is; why does he look so anguished?


This time we have 2 panther books from 59-61, both almost certainly US cover reprints...

* Addendum:  Interesting variation of this cover documented here.

... and both rather wonderful.


The Nevil Shute cover is from an early '70s series all painted by the same artist, with trademark white backgrounds. The only name that’s been suggested to me is the marine artist Chris Mayger which seems a little left – field since he rarely, if ever, painted people. I like the combination of quite bold colours with some quite rough black pencil on top.


The Matt Helm cover is one of those glorious Bond-esque montage shots with hero, villain, action and sexy girls- what’s not to like? There’s something about the painting which vaguely reminds me of Sanford Kossin - albeit it a much more tightly controlled Kossin.


* Still more mystery artists to come!


  1. 'The Blue Angel' looks like a Robert Maguire piece.

  2. I agree Leif, the first one has to be Ben Stahl. A lot of the top illustrators did "cheapy" book covers, but it was usually in the early part of their career, and many didn't like to admit it or divulge it in their bios. However, it was an opportunity to change the pace and the format with a new challenge. It also added to their experience and payed some bills. Illustrating educational textbooks (history, sociology, Biology, etc.) was a challenging change of pace for myself and some of my fellow illustrators during the 1980s'.

    On the cover of "Forced Gigolos", notice the deep claw marks on the guy's chest. Maybe he wasn't into rough sex, therefore the look of anguish. However, eliminating the heavily muscular body of the guy, and giving him a geeky appearance would have made more sense as to the anguished expression. Your probably thinking the guy should be enjoying it, right? But, on second thought, maybe he's a little shocked that she's aggressively attacking him, instead of him perusing her. I guess you have to read the story to find out.. did the beautiful "nymphos" have their way with the macho looking, but apparently reluctant men? How does "Political Correctness" fit into this reversed scenario? I'm not sure, but I can't see any chance of demanding that these manhandling "nymphos" be given court mandated management classes for over-sexed ladies. ;-)

    Tom Watson

  3. "Forced Gigolo"

    Must confess, I didn't notice those deep claw marks on the guy's chest.

    Therefore I'll have to adjust my opinion. Will take some time to assimilate, before further informing.

  4. P.S:
    forgot to add that


  5. I'm going to copy and paste a bit of a correspondence David Roach and I have just been having on the side in regards to "Forced Gigolo" in the hopes of prompting a discussion:

    I'm fascinated when I see work this good on what you call "prime cheese". It always makes me wonder how really good illustrators could have sunk to doing what must surely have qualified as softcore porn in those days. Even if they had no problem associating their name with such stuff, how much could it possibly have paid? Not nearly as much as mainstream work, surely! Perhaps it shows that there were times even then when you took whatever you could get...

    Incidentally, and along that line - have you seen the work of Fred Fixler:


    Exactly what I'm talking about. Look at how great he was! How much could these trashy under-the-counter publishers have paid to afford such talent?

  6. Further to that cover:

    "Forced Gigolos" could have been by Darell Greene:



    But it also looks a bit like Mal Murley, who did all those really slick Pall Mall ads I've presented long ago:


    But the little I know about Murley suggests he would never touch this stuff with a ten foot pole.

  7. Gee, I recall modeling for that Montana Fury cover, but I guess your memory plays tricks on you after a while.

  8. Anyone have any thoughts on the Montana Fury cover David thinks could be by Robert McGinnis?

  9. Even soft-porn deserves good art! Who's gonna provide it, but good artists?

    Funny how his shirt is torn but the buttons are intact? How does that happen?

    She looks happy.



  10. David; are you sure it was the "Montana Fury" cover and not the "Forced Gigolos" cover you posed for? As you say, the mind does play tricks ;^)

    Wes; I don't know how anyone could disagree with you. You're wise beyond your years, sir!

  11. While not crazy about the Donald Hamilton cover, I'm glad you included it, because this two short story book never had the good covers usually given to Hamilton's books. I love Donald Hamilton novels, now slowly becoming forgotten. One reviewer noted that Hamilton's Matt Helm g-man (a spy ala Bond) made Bond look like a "cream-puff". Indeed, the first one "Death of a Citizen" is still startling in its hero's use of torture to acheive his aims.

    Murder Twice told is a early double novella -- this one must have been a re-issue hoping to garner sales from Hamilton's success with the Matt Helm series. What's intereesting here is that the stories were first published in the 1940's and the cover is clear late 60's or early 70's style. So quite deceptive. Does it matter? Nah. I would have bought it, even knowing it was deceptive. That's a Donald Hamilton fan for you.

  12. Whew, that Montany Fury cover is astonishing!

    Could be McCarthy?

    Thanks for all these great covers!


  13. Anonymous10:38 AM

    The cover for the Nevil Shute book must have been done by either Renato Fratini or John Raynes. But telling those two apart can at times be difficult. S. Bentsen