Since I’ve been working on some paperback covers lately, I thought I’d look around the web and try to find some of the ones that made an impression on me growing up. There weren’t any books in my house when I was a kid. My parents grew up in farms and small towns back in Cuba. They both went up to 6th grade and started working on the cigar and sugar farms after that, so books weren’t part of their world. When we came over to the U.S., the first books I was introduced to were in school. The teacher would bring out a box of paperbacks for the class and start handing them out. Looking back, I think this was one of the first times I was introduced to American illustration, it was back in the mid-80’s, when I was in Junior High. One of my favorite paperback covers was for “Catcher in the Rye”, above. Now that I look at it again, I notice some of the things that show up in my own illustration work, kind of strange—the line, flat colors, etc. I did spend a lot of time looking at that cover in school. When I was a teen, I had very little in common with the main character, Holden Caulfield. I had no idea what he was talking about most of the time—New York, Central Park, etc., it was so different from the environment I was in. I enjoyed the book because it gave me a look into some other world I didn’t know anything about. I don’t have the name of the illustrator for the “Catcher in the Rye” book cover above. If anyone knows who the artist is, please let me know.
Another favorite paperback cover and book when I was a teen was “Night” by Elie Wiesel. Yes, while a lot of teens were into comic books I was reading books about detention camps. I was trying to figure out a lot of things about politics at the time. My family and I were held in a detention camp for some time when I was 8 years old and I think this book helped me understand and realize that others had been through so much worse. I had no idea who had illustrated this cover until I was in college at Pratt. One day, I was talking with my professor, Dave Passalaqua, and told him how much I had liked the cover for "Night" by Elie Wiesel. He looked at me and said, "Heck, I did that!". Life can be funny. Dave was a wonderful teacher , I miss having him around.
1984 is probably my favorite book. I read it many times because so much of it mirrored what life was like growing up in Cuba. The power of the state, neighbors spying, Big Brother, etc. I’m not sure who designed the type treatment for this. It’s simple, but I still remember it. Maybe because I had the book around all the time.
I spent a lot of time with “To Kill a Mockingbird” in class and such. Helped me learn more about all of the race issues in America. This cover was done by Wendell Minor. I had no idea who had illustrated it when I had it, I just kept looking at it and thinking I wanted to paint book covers when I grew up.
“Animal Farm” is another George Orwell book cover I remember. Don’t know who illustrated this one either.
“Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. Don’t know who illustrated this either.
This Picasso drawing was on a paperback cover of “Don Quixote” by Cervantes that I read in my Spanish literature class. I haven’t been able to find the actual book. I think this might have been the first time I noticed a work by Picasso. I had a lot of catching up to do.
This cover looks familiar, I just came across it while digging around on the web. My wife introduced me to the whole "Clockwork Orange" thing when I met her in college. I think I listened to the soundrack first, then saw the film, then read the book. I like this cover, simple and graphic.
And one more. I remember spending time looking through all of the detail in this "Lord of the Flies" paperback. Not sure about the artist either.