Friday, October 31, 2014

A Month Spent with a Master

So it’s Halloween. That means not only that children are likely to show up on your doorstep this evening, begging for candy (and future dental work), but that Killer Covers’ month-long tribute to American artist-illustrator Robert McGinnis has come to an end.

Written by J. Kingston Pierce (who also edits our sister blog, The Rap Sheet), Killer Covers is a site devoted to the demanding art of book design. On October 1, Pierce began posting paperback fronts painted by McGinnis, a man who -- over his 88 years -- has established a firm and familiar artistic identity. “It’s not so easy as saying that McGinnis’ covers are sexy and seductive; some are neither, though they’re still distinctive,” explains Pierce. “But his work does tend to feature long-legged, shapely and whip-smart-looking women, in the most attractive poses. Even if you’re not familiar with his name, the likelihood is you’ve enjoyed looking at his book covers over the years, as well as the many posters he created for the James Bond films and others.” Recognizing both McGinnis’ expertise and longstanding influence on the field, in 1993 the Society of Illustrators elected him to its Illustrators’ Hall of Fame.

Day after day throughout October, Killer Covers has highlighted one (sometimes more than one) new piece of McGinnis book art after the next. Most of those images came from crime and mystery novels, though a scattering had appeared on Westerns, romances and tales of espionage. “I had originally supposed that I might post one of those covers every couple of days,” Pierce recalls, “but even before I introduced the first of the bunch, I knew I had many more excellent choices than I could reasonably put up within a month. My computer is now stuffed with book scans I had to leave behind.”

Pierce also took the opportunity recently to interview Art Scott, who with McGinnis put together a forthcoming volume about that illustrator’s work, The Art of Robert E. McGinnis (Titan). The results of their exchange were posted earlier this week in two sections -- the first part in Pierce’s most recent Kirkus Reviews column, the remainder in The Rap Sheet.

For his final installment in the covers series, Pierce today posted two examples of McGinnis’ artistry, both taken from Erle Stanley Gardner novels published in 1962 -- and both boasting Halloween-appropriate imagery. Click here to enjoy those.

And to review all of Killer Covers’ McGinnis artwork, use this link.

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