Monday, August 26, 2013

The Art of Summer Reading: Ed Vebell

I can still vividly recall one particular day from my childhood: I was nine years old at the time. Summer vacation had started and my parents were both working, so that day I got to tag along on a road trip with my babysitter and her family to what was, in 1972, an exciting new shopping experience: "the mall."

There at Eastgate Square, at the brand new Coles book store, I saw the most enticing book cover. I'd never seen anything like it... colour artwork printed on shiny silver foil. I had to have it.


I had no idea at the time that the cover art was painted by an illustrator named Ed Vebell, or that one day I would come to greatly admire his work. Back in 1972, I was much more interested in what was the first in a long series of books about three young fellows who had their own detective agency, "The Three Investigators," and their famous and mysterious benefactor, Alfred Hitchcock.

In recent years, thanks to the tremendous efforts of other Three Investigator devotees who have compiled a wealth of information on various websites, I've learned that Ed Vebell had painted the cover of that first volume once before; nearly a decade earlier in 1964...


... as well as the second volume in the series, "The Stuttering Parrot."


On previous occasions, I've written about another Three Investigators illustrator, Jack Hearne ...


... and mentioned a third in passing: - Harry Kane, who seems to have handled the art chores for quite a while after Ed Vebell's covers on the first two volumes. According to the information at, Kane was "cover artist for Random House hardbound trade edition titles #3 - #16. He also provided the internal illustrations for #'s 1 - 16 and created the famous blue graveyard endpapers."


Ed Vebell returned to the series once more when Kane wasn't available to continue (and Hearne had not yet taken over). Vebell did the cover art on volume 17, "The Mystery of the Singing Serpent".


This is also the only time Vebell provided interior illustrations for any of the books.



Ed Vebell recreated his Stuttering Parrot cover for another early '70s foil cover re-issue of volume 2.


He also provided covers for volumes 18 and 19 before handing the reigns to Jack Hearne.



This week, as summer vacation (and summer reading) draws to a close, I'm returning to a more regular schedule of posting on the TI blog with a look at the art of Ed Vebell.

See you tomorrow!

* Visit for more about Ed Vebell and the other artists of the Three Investigators series.


  1. Great stuff. Its amazing how kids book covers stay with one. I recall a Hitchcock short story book with a scared kid in bed with the sheet pulled up just showing his terrified eyes. Nothing else is in the pix but a scary looking bed carving (Hitchcock himself, I believe), and a mouse running into the room. When you turn the book over to the back cover -- a continuation of the front illustration, you see the source of fear -- a ghostly figure coming down the hall to the room where the kid is . . . it still gives me the shivers just thinking about it.


  2. Deja vu! I remember reading these books when I was a kid- especially the Phantom Lake and shrinking house mysteries. Fun to see these again.

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