Happy Birthday To The Master: McGinnis.

mcginnis exit dying art 1960

Exit Dying, 1960

A very happy birthday to Robert McGinnis, born today in Cincinnati back in 1926 and still with us at 94. Apprenticed at Walt Disney Studios and studying art at Ohio State, McGinnis served in the Merchant Marine, then worked in advertising after WWII, where a chance 1958 meeting with illustrator Mitchell Hooks led to work at Dell Publishing. The result? In addition to editorial work for glossy magazines and over 40 movie posters, he’s credited with over 1,200 book covers, his well-known series work for Mike Shayne and other detective novels a key part of those books’ branded marketing. McGinnis is a member of the Society Of Illustrators Hall Of Fame, and after ‘retirement’ (if we want to call it that) has focused on non-commercial western themed art fine art painting.

There are too many ‘favorite’ Robert McGinnis cover illustrations to count, much less post here, and so many are already familiar to any visitor to this site. Still, I’ll post a few particular ‘faves’ I’ve always cherished, even before I knew they were McGinnis works, in some cases.

Too Hot To Hold

Too Hot To Hold, 1959

mcginnis never kill a client shayne 1963

Never Kill A Client, 1963

kill now pay later 1960

Kill Now, Pay Later 1960

Manhunt

The Best of Manhunt

I think it’s great that publishers promote forthcoming titles in advance. But I don’t know how the hell I’m supposed to wait until late July for The Best Of Manhunt. Subtitled: “A Collection Of The Best of Manhunt Magazine”, the book is edited by Jeff Vorzimmer, with a foreword by writer Lawrence Block and an afterword by Barry Malzberg, and collects 39 stories from the pages of mid-1950’s pulp magazine that many rightly regard as one of the very best of mystery/crime fiction magazines.

Manhunt 1

The pulp magazine era had mostly died by the time Manhunt magazine debuted in 1952. Mystery and crime fiction migrated to the new and booming paperback market in the postwar era, their garish, spicy covers replaced on the newsstands by countless ‘true crime’ magazines, many of which soon switched to increasingly explicit photo covers and ‘fact-based’ stories full of gruesome and period-sexy photographs.

Manhunt 2

But Manhunt magazine continued to offer monthly doses of hard-boiled short stories and serialized novels from the era’s best writers. Just look at the covers of a few issues…they read like a who’s who of postwar mystery/crime fiction masters: James Cain, Harlan Ellison, Bruno Fischer, Fletcher Flora, David Goodis, Brett Haillday, Evan Hunter, Frank Kane, Henry Kane, Richard Prather, Mickey Spillane, Jack Webb and others. In fact, the magazine even did it’s own ‘best of’ as a Perma Books paperback (see image below) with 13 stories from its pages.

The Best From Manhunt

I may get a real kick out of vintage crime fiction, particularly of the postwar hard-boiled variety, and have bought a number of 1930’s-40’s pulp reprints and trade paperback collections. Doing so has taught me that a lot of the content didn’t quite meet the expectations of the cover art, and was, in fact, kind of dreary. I’m acquisitive, but fortunately, no collector, and unwilling to hand over serious cash for seventy-year-old magazines with questionable contents.

Manhunt 3

One nearby used bookstore occasionally shelves vintage magazines and had a few copies of Manhunt for sale ($25 to $40 each as I recall) and though I didn’t buy, I was allowed to browse, and can say that Manhunt at least looked a cut above the hurried cut-n-paste hack jobs that many of its ‘true crime’ contemporaries really were. But I know from reading about it at many a blog, site and mystery/crime fiction book that Manhunt was considered the one postwar pulp title that gathered together some of the era’s very best talents.

Oh, I’m pre-ordering this book, you can bet on that, five months to wait or not. Till then, enjoy some retro mayhem from the covers of Manhunt magazine, here and in the following post.

Manhunt 4

 

 

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