Published October 23, 2015
Books , Cover Art , John Holmes
Delightfully disturbing work from Holmes, whose series of H.P. Lovecraft covers I posted here. First Person, Peculiar is a short story anthology and includes the influential “E is for Effort,” published originally in Astounding Science Fiction in 1947.
(Image via Øyvind)
John Holmes (1935 – 2011) was a British artist known for his minimalist, surrealistic book covers focusing on the human body, especially the face. The Lovecraft editions seen here—edited by August Derleth—directly succeeded Ballantine’s Adult Fantasy editions, which were edited by Lin Carter with covers by Gervasio Gallardo. The first printing of the Derleth/Holmes editions shows the titles in white lettering and volumes were priced at 95¢/apiece. The second printing, at $1.50/apiece, matches the much more engaging title design with the color of Holmes’ respective faces, with HPL’s name in bold yellow.
As an aside: as much as I like Holmes’ work in the fantasy and sci-fi genres, my favorite work of his is the 1969 Panther edition of Vladimir Nabokov’s Despair. The novel is about a Russian businessman who believes a vagabond he meets in Prague is his doppelganger. He murders the man in pursuit of the perfect crime, but it turns out the man actually looks nothing like him, and the police quickly catch the imperfect criminal. The cover painting is a slippery, postmodern homage to Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893).