Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Visit with Mitchell Hooks, Part 3

In 1988 Gary Lovisi of Gryphon Books visited Mitchell Hooks at his Manhattan home/studio. He then published the resulting interview in Paperback Parade #7. With Gary's permission I'm presenting that interview this week, broken into five daily instalments... ~ Leif Peng

GL: I know that science fiction is a small amount of your output, but you've done some wonderful covers there; "The Lani People",


"Dark Universe",


"The Shores of Space",


... and Piers Anthony's "Var the Stick".


GL: I was just wondering if you have anything in particular to say about sf or doing that kind of work.

MH: It came a little hard for me. It's not natural for me. I did all the assignments because they just happened to be offered, but I never went and sought them out.

Line to Tomorrow

MH: I never made samples with that kind of thing in mind. It's just, when I was younger, I used to read a little science fiction, and so I have nothing against it, but I just don't think too well in those terms. It's not quite my cup of tea.

Donovan's Brain

GL: You did 18 paintings for Bantam's series of Lew Archer novels by Ross MacDonald. How did that come about?

MH: Those Lew Archer covers were a lot of fun. They were for Len Leone at Bantam.

The Name Is Archer

Len was absolutely the premier art director of them all. Absolutely tops. He and I were contemporaries and worked together for many years, and I learned an awful lot from Len. I loved getting assignments from him because he was so inspiring to work for, and he'd always give you a lift when he gave you an assignment. You'd be inspired to do the best work you could.


Well, those Lew Archer books came up to be reprinted, they were popular through the years and were repackaged at least four times that I know of. So I think I was brought in on maybe the fourth one, and they've probably done them again since then.


But it was just a routine repackaging job that they had in mind and Len started giving them to me. He said, as I remember, that the assignment for each cover was to show the hero with his weapon, and to show some suggestion of the locale along with one or two of the characters. Those were the three things.


MH: So it worked out to be a big head of the hero, with him having the pistol somewhere around his head, to keep the design tight. I had a very good model, a guy that's still posing for me by the way, whose name is Bob Benes, and I'd call him up and ask him to do poses with the pistol.


MH: He was a creative guy and would aim it a certain way, shoot it, or cock it, or hide behind it. That's sort of the background on that.

* Continued tomorrow

* The text above is copyright 1988 & 2013 by Gary Lovisi and originally appeared in Paperback Parade #7 (Gryphon Books) 

Gary's website:

* Thanks to McClaverty for the use of his Mitchell Hooks paperback cover scans in today's post.


  1. Looks like Mitchell Hooks referenced an image of Boris Karloff, likely from "The Mummy", for that illustrated cover of "Donovan's Brain".

  2. "The Shores of Space"

    I'd feel like holidaying thereupon for some time;-)

    These are some fantastic sci-fi covers. He did them and they were "not his cup of tea", as it were and as I learn here.
    Just wondering about...

  3. Yes, the Lani People cover is beautiful, but its also pretty funny.

    His women are beautiful, even those with tails.

    Nice stuff!


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