Saturday, 13 April 2019

Harlequin Artists Part XLI

In my last post I mentioned my recent article on Harlequin artists. Here is the article, excluding the list of artists.

As part of Harlequin Enterprise’s 60th anniversary celebration in 2009 a curtain was slightly drawn back on the many artists that created the Harlequin covers. Heart of a Woman, an exhibit first seen in New York and then Las Vegas, highlighted the work of six artists with samples from many others. Some 150 original works of art were on display. The exhibit, and attendant publicity, was a rare acknowledgement of the mostly long-forgotten artists. Here I want to pull back the curtain a bit more. 

Artists for United States paperbacks have received, thanks to Piet Schreuders (Paperbacks, U.S.A) and others (e.g., Paperback Parade, Paperback Quarterly, Illustration), a great deal of attention over the last 35 years. But, to my knowledge, there isn’t an accurate and complete list of artists for Harlequin and other early Canadian paperback publishers. By 1960 Harlequin had virtually completed the move to an all romance publisher. Over the next fifty-nine years the art has changed but not the genre. However, the art for the first 500 Harlequins (May 1949 to January 1960) is seen on westerns, mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, adventure, non-fiction and others, all in glorious midcentury paperback colour. I have found no evidence that Harlequin had an art director early in its history. Until mid-1957 the editorial office was in Toronto while the books were produced in Winnipeg. One of the owners, Jack Palmer, was the editor until his death in 1954 and may also have handled art director duties. As seen below nearly all the first 500 covers were done by Toronto artists. The art often did not reach the level of that on American paperbacks in the 1950s. 

Harlequin did not acknowledge its artists. The art on 11 of the first 500 covers had been used on an earlier book. The remaining 489 books included seven covers with photographs and one with only text, leaving 481 books with original art. The work of at least 32 artists is seen on these books, some relatively well known, most forgotten and some anonymous. A surprising 304 (63%) covers are signed by 23 artists (22 men, one woman), three of whom are known to be alive in 2018. I have identified the likely artist on 62 of the unsigned covers, meaning 366 (76%) of the covers have identified art. On the remaining 115 books there are 14 covers with the unknown initials or unintelligible signatures of nine artists.


D. Rickard - Harlequin 24 - December 1949

Max Ralph - Harlequin 45 - May 1950

Sid Dyke - Harlequin 366 - August 1956

Friede - Harlequin 210 - July 1953

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Harlequin Artists Part XL

A new article has just has been published in the award winning journal (Playboy's Journal of the Year, 1999) Paperback Parade. The article is a complete and accurate list of Harlequin artists from 1949 to early 1960 - the first 500 issues. If anyone wants a copy let me know and I'll send a pdf.

Here are a few of the covers reproduced with the article.

Paperback Parade 103 - February 2019

Jack Harman - Harlequin 140 - November 1951

James Derrett McCarthy - Harlequin 157 - February 1952

Wes Chapman - Harlequin 160 - March 1952

Cy Heal - Harlequin 17 - October 1949

Gerald Lazare - Harlequin 64 - July 1950

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Something Different Part I

To start the new year here is a small mid-century Canadian paperback that isn't a Harlequin or White Circle or Crow or any number of other obscure mass-market Canadian publishers.

Published in 1961 (Np: Aleph Press) The Drunken Clock is a 16 page collection of 12 poems by Gwendolyn MacEwen (1941-1987) and her second book. 










Sunday, 16 December 2018

Harlequin Artists Part XXXIX - Paul Berta

In my last post I noted the signature of an artist on a 1958 Harlequin cover that I could not entirely decipher. A recent correspondent (thanks, Grant) has found the artist. He is Paul Berta. A now retired Toronto artist, this was Berta's only cover for Harlequin.

Berta is the 23rd Harlequin cover artist from the first 500 books that I have at least a partial name. I recently completed a survey of these Harlequin artists and here is the summary.

The art on 11 of the first 500 covers had been used on an earlier book. The remaining 489 books included seven covers with photographs and one with only text, leaving 481 books with original art. The work of at least 32 artists is seen on these books, some relatively well known, most forgotten and some anonymous. A surprising 304 (63%) covers are signed by 23 artists (22 men, one woman), three of whom are known to be alive in 2018. I have identified the likely artist on 62 of the unsigned covers, meaning 366 (76%) of the covers have identified art. On the remaining 115 books there are 14 covers with the unknown initials or unintelligible signatures of nine artists.

Here are a few covers from the 23 artists.

D. Rickard - Harlequin 75 - September 1950

Lyle Glover - Harlequin 84 - November 1950

Wesley Chapman - Harlequin 131 - September 1951

Friede - Harlequin 189 - September 1952

Friday, 23 November 2018

Harlequin Artists Part XXXVIII - Who?

I've been reviewing the artwork on the first 500 Harlequin books the last few weeks - trying to identify the remaining unknown artists. Here's one that continues to puzzle. There is a signature but I cannot decipher completely. I see "Paul (B or E)??t?".

It appears to be his only work for Harlequin.

Harlequin 434 - August 1958

Harlequin 434 artist