Favourite Dustwrappers

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Steve Whatley
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Favourite Dustwrappers

Post by Steve Whatley » Wed 11 Jan, 2012 10:51:44

Ok Charles, I'll act upon your suggestion of a new thread, and list some of my favourite dustwrappers...

Where to start? I'll go through chronologically, and consider only first editions. Some reprint covers are better than the 1sts, but I'll leave them for a separate thread.

The Devil Rides Out I always consider as iconic amongst DW dw's.

I like The Eunuch Of Stamboul, although I'm not sure that the Eunuch looks menacing enough (more comical, I'd say), and I don't think the heroine looks that scared of him!

The recently-discovered variant dustwrapper for Contraband is to me a period classic.

Then there's The Quest Of Julian Day - very colourful and promising plenty of Egyptian mystery!

The Sword Of Fate is another period classic.

Mediterranean Nights, also Gunmen, Gallants And Ghosts have quite effective covers.

They Used Dark Forces is good and sinister...

The Eight Ages Of Justerini's has a nice feel to it.

And then two late classics: The Ravishing Of Lady Mary Ware and Desperate Measures - military subjects in similar styles, though by different artists.

That might seem a lot, but it's only eleven out of the huge DW output. Many of the others are perfectly good, but some I find rather strange.

Of course, one must consider not just the front cover, but also the spine (which can be quite eye-catching on a bookshelf) and the back (where a new photograph of the author may appear) and even the flaps!

I also find that I like a lot of the Omnibus Edition covers;

Those Modern Musketeers - both the 1939 version (perhaps because I've never seen one in the flesh) and the 1954 version, which is very smart. I can't decide which version I prefer.

The cover of The Secret Missions Of Gregory Sallust, with the hero parachuting into occupied territory in German uniform, has the perfect illustration to advertise the three titles contained in the volume.

The pinky-red cover of Roger Brook In The French Revolution is I think intented to make one think of bloody executions.

Death In The Sunshine and Plot And Counterplot also have quite effective designs.

Well, there they are - my favourite DW dustwrappers. I'm sure opinions will vary tremendously...

If I have to choose only one (which I now realise may have been Charles's intention), I think it would have to be the variant Contraband.

PS Sorry, everyone, I don't seem to be able to start a new thread. Charles, I'm sure you have the technology to move this post to a new subject heading?

PPS Thanks Charles!

Charles
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Post by Charles » Wed 11 Jan, 2012 22:14:54

Dear Steve,

I'm delighted you've put up such a comprehensive list.

I'm going to give some careful thought to my own favourites and compare notes ... I hope everyone else will do so too - it will be fascinating to see if we all like the same designs ...

All best to all !
Charles

Jim
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Post by Jim » Thu 12 Jan, 2012 02:42:18

Some of my favorites, in chronological order:

The Forbidden Territory – probably the only one of the Joan/Diana jackets I like, with the bayonets silhouetted against the barred window. My copy is a later printing, which features the author's photo on the spine instead of repeating the illustration.

Strange Conflict – finally, a professional artist (Frank Papé) at work!

I do like the first few Roger Brook jackets – they look more like historical novels than adventure stories.

The Island Where Time Stands Still – lovely painting by Sax, who was DW’s regular artist for several years, and these are probably my favorite jackets. Prisoner in the Mask is his, along with Roger Brook in the French Revolution, Traitor’s Gate, and The Satanist.

I don’t like Robert Graham’s covers for the Lymington editions, especially when they are just repainted from the superior original jackets. But what I didn’t know (until I did the research) is that he did at least two of those original jackets! Mayhem in Greece is his work in both the first edition and the Lymington, as is The Sultan’s Daughter. (Arthur) Barbosa, who did the final book, Desperate Measures, was one of Georgette Heyer’s favorite cover artists.

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Post by Charles » Thu 12 Jan, 2012 21:29:05

This is turning out to be a fascinating topic !

I've just been compiling my own list of favourites, and it tells me things about myself I hadn't realised - in the main I like covers with 'action', and I can't entirely separate liking a book from liking the jacket, however hard I may try !

My own favourite first edition dustjackets, in order of preference rather than of publication date, are :-

The Fabulous Valley
The Forbidden Territory
Contraband (the variant dj)
The Quest of Julian Day
The Ka of Gifford Hillary
Three Inquisitive People

I'm surpised neither of you rated 'The Fabulous Valley' ... if I ever came across the original and was fortunate enough to buy it (some hope !) I would have it on my bedroom wall and say 'good morning' to it every morning and 'goodnight' to it every night ! Like Jim, I rate The 'Forbidden Territory', but party because it was 'the first', and try as I may, I can't really rate 'The Devil Rides Out', because distinctive as the cover is (and I like the spine illustration) I find the drawing of the horse (?) a bit 'twee'. May DW forgive me !

I agree with Steve some of the omnibus covers are superb. I love 'Those Modern Musketeers' (the 1939 version for me), the 'Black Magic Omnibus' and 'Plot and Counterplot', and agree 'The Secret Missions of Gregory Sallust' is really outstanding.

Another time I'll share my favourites among the reprints - I think some of the early Hutchinson paperback designs were superb, as were some of the early Arrows. In fact some of these go at the very top of my list.

A parting thought on the 'foreigns' though - how about the early Dutch 'Forbidden Territory' (which Steve put my way a number of years ago - thank you !!!) or the 1946 Swedish cover for the same title ? Pure joy !

Anyone else got any favourites ? It would be great to hear some more views ...
Charles

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Post by Steve Whatley » Fri 13 Jan, 2012 00:48:21

Dear Charles, I'm afraid I can't share your enthusiasm for the cover of The Fabulous Valley. For me, the leopard looks far too cuddly! If this were a still from a film, I would say that the props man had just thrown a stuffed leopard at the actress who's playing the heroine.

As for talking to a picture - well, it is said that Dornford Yates (an author whose works appeared in DW's library) had a picture clock (a painting with a real clock face set into it) which he talked to; now, I consider Dornford Yates to be a literary genius, but some would no doubt say that this was a sign of madness!

I have to confess that I hadn't appreciated that the cover of The Devil Rides Out was one of Diana Younger's. As such, I think it is her best - I think I know what you mean (it looks a bit amateurish), but I actually think it works. I will further confess that, much as I love the idea that Joan and her daughter helped in the design of some of the early books, I find most of Diana's cover designs rather unprofessional in appearance, and amongst the worst of all DW's dw's. She seemed to struggle with faces; Sixty Days To Live, The Golden Spaniard, The Black Baroness, Faked Passports - some of them are ludicrous. I would include Uncharted Seas too, but for some reason, that one seems to work for me. Sorry, I should be saving this for the Worst Dustwrappers section.

I agree with Jim that Sax's cover for The Island Where Time Stands Still is lovely; has anyone else noticed that this always seems to be one of the least well-preserved of all the DW dustwrappers?

I think that the foreign editions should have been left - like the reprints - for a separate strand, but as Charles has mentioned them, I will say that I think they are amongst the best of all, and that the Swedish cover for The Forbidden Territory which Charles highlighted is probably the best Dennis Wheatley cover ever produced.

PS Charles, don't worry about talking to inanimate objects - I do it myself, so I hope you'll agree that we're both in good company!

[font=Courier New] [/font]

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Post by Jim » Fri 13 Jan, 2012 01:25:22

Charles wrote: Another time I'll share my favourites among the reprints - I think some of the early Hutchinson paperback designs were superb, as were some of the early Arrows. In fact some of these go at the very top of my list.
The paperbacks that were my first copies of most of the DW stories were also the least attractive: the Arrow set issued from 1969 to 1973. The ones that preceeded them, in the mid-60s, are generally much better. This seems to be the only time that each series had its own cover design or color. There does not seem to have been much consistency in other time periods, but those two sets included just about every DW title (and both times, titles were pulled out of their proper series to become "Black Magic" novels).

Of the early Hutchinson paperbacks, I rather like The Eunuch of Stamboul. Two other one-off designs that catch my eye are the 1965 Three Inquisitive People and the 1981 The Rising Storm.

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Post by Garry Holmes » Fri 13 Jan, 2012 20:43:42

I always rather liked the first editions of THE HAUNTING OF TOBY JUGG. The working of the lettering into the picture is very well done, and it's a shame that they didn't try the stylised approach more often. The surreal 1979/80 paperback covers are beautiful; how many were released? The Lymington editions are professionally done, if not always exciting. My favourites of these are the close up pictures of the characters in THREE INQUISITIVE PEOPLE and THE SCARLET IMPOSTOR.

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Post by Charles » Fri 20 Jan, 2012 23:26:38

Steve Whatley wrote:Dear Charles, I'm afraid I can't share your enthusiasm for the cover of The Fabulous Valley. For me, the leopard looks far too cuddly! If this were a still from a film, I would say that the props man had just thrown a stuffed leopard at the actress who's playing the heroine. [font=Courier New] [/font]
Dear Steve,

What a magnificent picture you paint - I don't think I'll forget that as long as I live ! :D I'll still enjoy the dustjacket as much as ever but with a fresh touch added !

I've ascribed the dustjacket of The Devil Rides Out to Diana on the grounds that at the top right of the illustrated endpapers, DW wrote "Designed by Joan and Dennis Wheatley. Horse etc by Diana Younger", and as it's the same, or virtually the same horse. Of course the other bits on the dustjacket may have been added by someone else, and the picture of Tanith on the spine (who certainly doesn't look as I imagine her) is certainly not Diana's work.

I agree with your comments about the other Diana dustjackets. The Golden Spaniard she painted is far from the Golden Spaniard I imagine .. she looks positively matronly. That said, for some strange reason I rather like the dustjacket of The Black Baroness.

I'll wait until we've completed this theme before I say more about the other reprint jackets, but suffice to say I agree with many of the other comments.

Best as always - I'm just going to pick up my first of The Fabulous Valley and have another smile at the jacket ... :D
Charles

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