Playing The Stock Market.

the rap sheetBrowsing the Chicago papers and the New York Times online before the workday commences is a daily routine for me. Call me a news junkie. Similarly, I rely on certain blogs and sites for my daily doses of noir culture and writerly biz, Literary Hub, Crime Reads and J. Kingston Pierce’s The Rap Sheet (link below) key among them. Great for writers? You bet, but just as essential for readers and genre enthusiasts. In The Rap Sheet’s case, there’s often much more than genre goings-on to peruse. Case in point:

The 1.11.20 edition included a link to an August 2019 article from the AIGA Eye On Design site, “Why Do So Many Book Covers Look The Same? Blame Getty Images” by Cory Matteson. The AIGA? That’s the American Institute of Graphic Arts (and do I really need my day job’s turf creeping into my coffee break ‘me-time’?).

AIGA Screen Cap

I’ll wager that, like me, many visitors and followers here at The Stiletto Gumshoe site frequent some of the truly excellent vintage pulp magazine, postwar paperback and classic illustration sites like The Rap Sheet’s affiliate Killer Covers Of The Week, Pulpcovers, Not Pulpcovers, Seattle Mystery Books and others. Betcha you’ve been amused by their periodic examples of classic pulp magazine or vintage paperback cover art re-purposed on another title…as-is, altered, or sometimes quite possibly stolen by a less-than-ethical offshore operation. More in the ‘now’, I get a little dizzy when I cruise the Seattle behemoth’s Kindle books and see how much classic Robert Maguire, McGinnis, Rader, Barton and other artists’ work appears on quickie crime novelettes and sexy-shorties. Let’s just guess those illustrations aren’t in the public domain and some self-styled self-publishers don’t own the originals.

But the Matteson’s AIGA Eye On Design article tackles a different situation altogether: Cover art’s stock photography redundantly appearing on different titles. Matteson notes, “The book cover design world, it turns out, has something of an all-star squad of stock and archival images that show up on book covers time and time again”. The AIGA article isn’t merely pointing out isolated examples of a stock image appearing on two books. The article depicts images used more or less concurrently on a dozen different titles, sometimes in different markets, sometimes not. And it occurs more frequently than you might expect. Just one example from Matteson’s article: Matthias Clamer’s 2004 photo “Naked Woman Sleeping On Gravel” is shown here on just two titles, but it’s actually been used on fifteen books.

Book Cover Duo

Designers have a love-hate relationship with stock imagery: Grateful it’s available when budgets won’t allow for original photography or illustration, but well aware it’s being used by counterparts elsewhere. You need a photo of an apple? A coffee cup, hammer or clock? Are you really going to hire a photographer to shoot one, or just expeditiously snatch one from a stock photo site for a fraction of the cost, downloaded and ready to use now? Most creative resources maintain subscriptions or ‘bank’ credits with their preferred stock photo agencies for easy access, the images ranging from routine objects and insets, to stunning works of photographic art, to the digital building blocks of proprietary photo-composed imagery. Getty is kind of the Cadillac of the bunch, with iStock, CanStock, Shutterstock and others bringing up the rear with more affordable options. But with stock photos, you definitely get what you pay for, both in selection and quality.

Indie book launcher dot com

This topic’s been addressed before – both humorously and seriously – at The Rap Sheet, Goodreads, various pulp illustration sites, indie/self-publishing sites (examples above from the Indie Book Launcher site, for instance). Surely you’ve spotted a memorable book cover’s photo on another title, or in an ad or magazine. I do, and often. Big city art agencies and studios repping the likes of Mike Ludlow, Clement Micarelli, Edwin Georgi and their ilk are long gone. In the mystery/crime fiction marketplace, Hard Case Crime has been the only reliable line showcasing contemporary figurative illustration. They’ve done so right from the start and continue to do so in their new ownership…God bless ‘em. But it’s a photographic world (a digital image world to be precise) and in publishing, it’s understandably a stock image world, realistically dictated by budgets and timetables. Still…that doesn’t excuse the redundant use of the same image. Blame Getty? Not me. I’ll blame inattentive (or disinterested) art directors, graphic designers and inexpert self-publishers.

Rap Sheet Blog Archives

I won’t include a direct link here to Cory Matteson’s AIGA article “Why Do So Many Book Covers Look The Same? Blame Getty Images”. Go to The Rap Sheet yourself to follow the link. It also appears on the Killer Covers of The Week site, and those links are below. Go to either to check out Matteson’s article for an interesting read, but I bet you spend some time at one of Pierce’s sites browsing other stuff. In fact, I defy you not to.

http://therapsheet.blogspot.com/

http://killercoversoftheweek.blogspot.com/

More Than Barbarians (If Given A Chance).

boris vallejo 1967

Several cult-fave illustrators like Frank Frazetta, James Bama or Basil Gogos, will always be linked to SF/Fantasy and Horror. Even moreso with Boris Vallejo, known almost exclusively as a fantasy artist, with infrequent forays into movie poster work (though even those were clearly assigned to capitalize on his fantasy style).

Boris Vallejo was born in Peru in 1941, started painting at age 13 and got his first paying work at only 16. He attended the Escuela Nacional Superior Autonoma de Bellas Artes on a five-year scholarship, then worked locally for a few years before emigrating to the more lucrative U.S. marketplace in 1964. The U.S. is also where Vallejo met his partner and, ultimately, wife-to-be, Texan Julie Bell, a fellow fantasy artist with her own considerable rep, though in recent years she’s been transitioning into an award-winning wildlife painter.

Hatchett 1976

Yes, we know Boris Vallejo for sword-wielding nearly-naked winged fantasy femmes. But seeing what the master illustrator could do with other subjects makes me wish he (and others among the comics and fantasy art scenes) took a crack at crime/pulp/noir subjects more often. I’ve previously shown Vallejo’s cover art for Lee McGraw’s 1976 hard-boiled private eye novel Hatchett (link below and an image above), and this post also shows “At The Door” from 1994 (below) and an intriguing bit of pencil work from 1967 at the top. There’s almost a familiar hint of Robert McGinnis or Ron Lesser evident in that sketch, and I’m liking it.

At The Door 1994

I’ll always appreciate the skill employed by so fantasy artists’ elf maidens, aliens, angels, demons and warriors, even though the SF/Fantasy genres aren’t my thing. But when I see those talented illustrators’ work, it makes me wish that more would take a closer look at the thugs, gumshoes, femmes fatales and midnight lovers lurking in the noir shadows.

https://thestilettogumshoe.tumblr.com/post/188674058874/just-a-few-years-too-early-perhaps-lee

The Mic’s Art, Not The Book.

love thief 1962 Micarelli

Oh, Orrie. Another ‘shattering novel of a nymphomaniac’. I can guess how Orrie Hitt’s 1962 Love Thief  goes, having read my share of Hitt’s novels, and I’ll wager this is one of those postwar paperbacks boasting a cover that’s way better than the book itself.  The art’s often listed here and there as uncredited, but is attributed to Clement Micarelli in some locations. Well, I’m going with that.

Nicknamed Mic to family and friends, Micarelli took his first Rhode Island School of Design figure drawing class at age 12 in 1941, and vintage paperback and retro sleaze enthusiasts have treasured some of his late 1950’s illustration gems for years since. The artist passed away at age 79 in 2008.

Love Thief 1962

The New Yorker

New Yorker 1997

A holiday homicide cover by San Francisco artist Owen Smith for the December 22nd and 29th 1997 issue of The New Yorker – The Fiction Issue.

Not sure if Smith has been a go-to artist for The New Yorker’s fiction issues, but he has done nearly twenty covers for that publication alone, and below is the Christmas and New Year’s Day issue from the previous year – that one more New Year’s celebratory instead of Xmas. The guy and the gal hunched over their typewriters got it all over the revelers, if you ask me.

The New Yorker 1996

Noiquet, continued…

Noiquet-Thriller 1984

More illustration work from Spanish artist Joan Beltran Bofill, known in the European commercial art scene as Noiquet. See a prior post for more examples of this artist’s work…

Noiquet - ThrillerNoiquet - Pavillion In St CloudNoiquet - Situation Grave Hank JansonNoiquet -- Second StringNoiquet - Second String 1963

Noiquet.

Noirquet--1974

Spanish painter Joan Beltran Bofill (1939 – 2009) was best known in fine arts circles as a contemporary Impressionist, his sumptuous light-filled paintings recognized for nostalgic settings and lush, swirling brushwork. But, like so many artists, Joan (don’t be confused, Joan’s a man’s name in this case) juggled both fine art and commercial art careers, and was also a popular European paperback and digest cover illustrator, particularly in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Noiquet - Beltran

Beltran Bofill came from Barcelona, studied at the Casa Lomja (Picasso had been a student there) and the Sant Jordi Fine Arts School. In an effort to keep the easel painting and illustration work separate, the artist worked under the name ‘Noiquet’ for various series of children’s books, Zane Grey westerns, and a number of standalone mystery/crime fiction novels and series, including Hank Janson and Agatha Christie books, Earle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason and saucy Carter Brown series. You’ll see hints of American illustrators like Robert McGinnis, Victor Kalin and others in Noiquet’s work, most of them excellent period pieces showcasing a real 60’s/70’s/80’s feel.

Noiquet 1974

Rooting around, I see many covers or even original illustrations questionably credited to Noiquet, some of which simply don’t look at all like the artist’s style, or lack his distinctive and usually prominent signature. Tempting as it may be to show them here, I’ll pass, but this post includes several examples of the artist’s work from the early 1960’s through the mid-80’s. A follow-up tomorrow will include some more…

Noiquet - FBI Series 1968

Noiquet

Noiquet

More From Bertil Hegland

Bertil Hegland 1

A few more examples of Swedish artist Bertil Hegland’s mystery/crime fiction cover art, the illustrator’s career tragically cut short at age 42 when an accident caused him to lose the use of his hand. Look for the preceding post for more examples of Hegland’s work.

Bertil Hegland 9Bertil Hegland 8Bertil Hegland 7Bertil Hegland 6

A Career Cut Short: Bertil Hegland

Bertil Hegland 2

Bertil Hegland (1925 – 2002) was a Swedish illustrator known in the Scandinavian market for popular children and teen book series covers — including the Nancy Drew series (apparently called “Kitty”) — as well as hard-boiled mystery and crime fiction covers. Initially an advertising illustrator, Hegland migrated more and more to publishing. By the late 40’s and still only in his mid-twenties, his main clients were book, digest and magazine publishers.

Bertil Hegland 10

But at only 42, Hegland was the victim of an unfortunate car battery accident that severely injured his hand, to the point that he could no longer draw. Apparently, he gave up art altogether at that point. Whether his hand was crushed by a battery (they can be pretty heavy) or it exploded (which we’re often warned about) isn’t clear.

You can point out that Mickey Spillane, James Hadley Chase, Peter Chaney and other writers’ work was packaged in more handsome cover art in the U.S., UK and elsewhere, and I won’t argue. Publishers in smaller markets deal with substantially shorter press runs and surely looked for proportionately smaller fixed upfront costs. Many encouraged illustrators to freely ‘adapt’ U.S./UK covers, and you can see that at work here with some of Hegland’s illustrations.

Bertil Hegland 4

Biographical info is spotty at best on Bertil Hegland, and most of that in Swedish, which I can confirm translates pretty poorly in standard online translation. Check the next post tomorrow for additional examples of Hegland’s work.

Bertil Hegland 5

Paul Mann

Paul Mann 1

In the preceding post, Daniel Kraus’ new Blood Sugar from the Hard Case Crime line depicted a Good Girl Art pinup style Halloween witch on its cover, done by Salt Lake City, Utah artist and illustrator, Paul Mann.

Paul Mann 2

In fact, Mann seems to be Hard Case Crime’s current go-to artist, if you check out their site. You can also go to paulmannartist.com to find out more about this talented artist and his traditionally styled work.

Paul Mann 3

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