Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Let’s look at some pretty book covers, shall we?

Edo’s September post mentioning Lin Carter made me think, as talking about Carter often does, of his work editing Ballantine Books’ Adult Fantasy series back in the 1970s. Ian and Betty Ballantine’s paperback company put a lot of fantasy and SF into readers’ hands back in that era, including the authorized version of Lord of the Rings. When Carter, who was extremely knowledgeable about fantasy fiction, went to work for the Ballantines, he brought stories from Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, Clark Ashton Smith and many far more obscure authors back into print at paperback prices. I was in heaven.

And they came with such awesome covers, like this one from Gervasio Gallardo, for Carter’s flawed but fascinating history of the fantasy genre. Gallardo also did covers for The Charwoman’s Shadow by Lord Dunsany—

Lovecraft’s Dream Quest of Unknown KadathAnd a more horrorific cover for August Derleth’s Lovecraft-inspired collection, The Survivor and Others.In a different horror vein we have Robert Lo Grippo’s cover for William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, an amazing setting though a mediocre story.Then there’s Gallardo’s cover for George McDonald’s allegory, Lilith

Bob Pepper’s covers for Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Trilogy, capturing its grotesque feel (combined cover image courtesy of The Literary Chick)And to wrap up, Vincent di Fate’s hallucinogenic cover for The World’s Desire, H. Rider Haggard and Andrew Lang’s story combining Helen of Troy, Odysseus, reincarnated love and Exodus into one over-the-top fantasy.Reading stuff like this in the days when paperback fantasy was primarily LOTR and Conan knockoffs completely blew my mind. So as I haven’t had time this month to complete anything with more words in it, I figured I’d share. I hope y’all enjoy looking at these covers as much as I do.



    1. The miniseries did a great job. It fudges some stuff as we approach the ending to speed things up but it captures Peake’s grotesque setting beautifully and has a great cast (including Christopher Lee, Stephen Frye, Ian Richardson and Zoe Wanamaker). I don’t think it could be done better (but if they do it better, I hope it’s while I’m alive to see it).

  1. Edo Bosnar

    Yep, those are some nice covers. And yep, it’s always nice to look at and talk about nice cover art.
    The Night Land cover is quite striking, although I prefer the cover art for the UK paperback edition by Peter Jones, which, in fact, I now own.
    And if I ever get around to reading the Gormenghast trilogy, those paperback editions are the ones I want. My brother-in-law has those, and when I was visiting last summer I kept covetously eying them on his bookshelf…

  2. The Jones cover is good too. I have some British covers for Michael Moorcock’s Prince Corum series and they’re amazing.
    As I learned a few years ago, Mervyn Peake didn’t actually intend his books to be a trilogy, planning several more adventures. His wife completed Titus Awakes (book four) but I’ve had no desire to read it.

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