This is by no means a new topic for Retrospace. Espionage, Action and Mystery paperbacks are my favorite covers - often trashy, and always interesting. But it's been a while since I've delivered up a batch of covers (November 2012), so we're due for another round. Enjoy!
I think my favorites are The Butcher covers - even more than the expertly painted Robert McGinnis covers or the tawdry Mike Shayne paperbacks. They're really trashy looking, but also well conceived (in a sleazy sort of way). Fans of vintage men's action magazines, will understand my meaning.
I'm not sure how good the book is, but "Lustgarten" is the best last name ever.
The creator of Dr. Fu Manchu gives this his blessing.
If you know your Silver Age comic books, you're familiar with the brilliant Jim Steranko.
Sort of a macabre twist on the Tony Orlando classic. And speaking of macabre....
I like my covers a little less morbid. This is just freaking disturbing.... sort of reminds me of the next one...
Ahh, yes. The old-school mysteries were never afraid to pull the "nude card" tell sell a novel or two. Men are a predictable breed; just imply nudity and we'll fork over the cash willingly.
Nice. I like that he's wielding a battle ax instead of the standard pistol.
This guy isn't pulling off the "badass" vibe for me - but I'm not sure why. Perhaps because it looks like he's modeling for the Sears Catalog (except he's brandishing a firearm).
Meh. Kind of poorly done. Still, it's better than modern paperbacks which fill 90 percent of the canvas with the stupid author's name. The remaining ten percent go to the book's title... and the background illustration is barely an afterthought.
God I love the Swedes and their sense of style. I did an entire post just on Swedish espionage/action paperbacks. You should check it out.
If it's raining, don't forget your umbrella and to turn your headlights on. Oh, wait - headlights are already on. (insert laugh track).
Obvious James Bond rip off. Bad composition with the submarine emerging from his right temple.
"A very good suspense novel" may be the most bare-bones endorsement I've ever seen.
Not only was McGinnis (of which I'm sure this one of his - or an expert copycat) a talented artist, he was also extremely adept at approaching nudity without crossing the line. A perfectly positioned wicker chair and some odd areola covering - voila! It's "censored" enough for mass production.
A couple more barely covered McGinnis babes...
You can pretty much guarantee that the really old mystery paperbacks (1940s-50s) will feature a dead chick on the cover. One of these days I'll need to do a full post on this just demonstrate how incredibly common this was. Here's another example... (I've got a million more where this came from)
At least they didn't go for the cheap movie adaptation cover. Nowadays, if it's been adapted to film, you can be damn sure the lead actor's photogenic mug will be gracing the cover.
Dear God, this is terrible.... except that dude in the bottom right corner is perhaps the coolest human being I have ever seen.
And the winner for best... (by a landslide)