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Archive for May 22nd, 2012
I just finished The Sun Saboteurs, half of F-108, a story written by Damon “To Serve Man” Knight and previously published as The Earth Quarter. This isn’t the review, I still have The Light of Lilith to finish first, rather it’s looking at some rather interesting similarities with To The Tombaugh Station. Not in the story, in the cover:
Fortunately I found a site that lists the artists behind many of the Ace Double covers, which confirmed what I thought. These are both from the same artist, Ed Valigursky. According to the site, he also drew both covers of the last double I read, Delusion World and Spacial Delivery. In total, he drew the covers for at least 100 Ace Doubles and Singles between 1954 and 1965. He wasn’t their only prolific artist, he’s just the one I’ve first noticed as odds would have it four of the first five books I read featured his cover art. Ace wasn’t his only client, either. He also did trading card series and numerous magazine covers during that period.
Since I picked my first batch out based on covers, should it surprise me that one man was involved with so many of them?
What really strikes me, though? See those two covers above? Both of those scenes happen in the book. The cover for Spacial Delivery? Represents a scene that happens throughout the book. Delusion World wasn’t a specific scene, but did match the overall feel for the book. As I’ve worked my way towards publication, I’ve often seen the warning that an author, especially a new author, should count themselves lucky if the cover artist even reads the blurb of the book. Much less the whole thing.
That Sun Saboteurs cover? The scene is from the last 10% of the story. Even if Valigursky himself didn’t read the entire story, someone involved in the process of making the cover cared enough that it represented a scene in the book, and picked a powerful scene both emotionally and visually. Someone picking up the book is presented with an intriguing cover, then can get to the scene itself and say “oh damn” when they realize what, exactly, is happening.
Valigursky’s career strikes me similar to many of the authors he drew for. He just worked. He kept producing and made his mark on a series of books that are collected as much for the work of the cover artists as for all those words sitting in between. He worked commercially until the 1990s, and still painted on commission for years after. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 82.
I suppose, in the end, this is my nostalgia for a different era in cover art, the hand painted covers that occasionally even cared about the contents of the book. The covers that made collectables out of books sold for 35 or 40 cents, a pittance of a price point even adjusting for inflation. I can’t say that modern cover are will never be collectable in the way these stories were. In fact, we may be in the last great age of cover art due to the rise of the eBook. It’s an appreciation of an artist I’d never know about except for finding that box of old Doubles in ziplock bags at the back of a library sale.
It’s a shame I’m learning of many of these writers and artists only after they passed, but it’s nice that the books and covers live on to a new generation.