Sunday, June 22, 2008

Covers through time

In an example of the creative synergy that starry-eyed Web boosters claim has transformed our consciousness (either that, or in a bit of copycatting born of laziness on my part), I refer you to Chocolate Cobweb's display of Ngaio Marsh book covers from 1944 through 1987. It's interesting to note how styles change over time and to speculate about how different aspects of an author's work capture designers' attention in different eras.

It appears that Ms. Cobweb has now posted a similar display of Agatha Christie cover, which ought to fuel your appetite for this question: What examples come to mind of covers from different eras that highlight different aspects of an author's work? Will a cover from an apprehensive era focus on darker aspects of a writer normally considered cozy, for example?

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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8 Comments:

Blogger GJG said...

I know for a personal fact, that covers sell a book---I only have to flash back on sneaking the Mickey Spillane paper backs into my room at home----I'm not sure which were held in higher horror by my parents, them or the Science Fiction pulp mags I was prone to acquire------. Today, I am drawn to those covers issued at them turn of the century, the twenties---the Jazz age----I was born about 30 years to soon----(sigh)

June 22, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Some of those old-style covers are coming back into favor, I think. Or maybe it's just that our age encompasses everything and is nostalgic for everything. Those new James Bond covers, one of which you should be acquiring soon, are interesting combinations of glitzy 1960s-style psychedelic colors and old-time paperback-original design.

June 22, 2008  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

I'm struck by the way the covers' styles range from highly stylized to realistic. Well, at least perhaps "realistic" deserves some qualification when speaking of Enter a Murderer ...

June 22, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I see what you mean. Enter a Murderer may be more surrealistic that realistic -- realistic parts combined in odd ways. I think covers have generally gone from less realistic to more realistic over time. I'd guess that increasing ease of photographic reproduction is responsible.

June 22, 2008  
Blogger Chocolate Cobwebs said...

In response to your second question in the post, I have come across many covers printed from the late 1960s through the 1970s which feature supernatural/occult themes - much more so than other periods. I have a few Ngaio Marsh and other author's covers printed during that time that have quite an occultish theme going on, yet the story inside touches only slightly on that.

June 24, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Ghosts must have had a surge in popularity. The sort of thing I had in mind when I posted the question was that covers from, say, the 1970s onward of books first published earlier might emphasize the unpleasanter aspects of murder more than the original covers did.

June 24, 2008  
Blogger The Clandestine Samurai said...

The edition of Puzo's "The Godfather" that I have still has that hand with cross and puppet strings on it. I always found this to be eerie, and always assumed it referred to Don Corleone, but does it?

June 26, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I just took another look at that cover, and I realize that the rods that manipulate the puppet strings do look like a cross -- an appropriate association considering the cast of Catholic characters.

As for the hand manipulating the strings, I don't see what it could be meant to suggest other than Don Corleone's control of almost everything. It's been a while since I read the book or saw the movies, but I don't recall any other themes of manipulation or control.

June 26, 2008  

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