Monday, 15 March 2010

Canadian Paperbacks - Other Editions Part IV

The best known White Circle from Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada Ltd is I, the Jury by Mickey Spillane. As noted in an earlier post the WC edition is the first paperback edition anywhere but within a few months New American Library (NAL) published it's Signet edition. This book is one of the most successful paperbacks of all time with an average of two printings a year for the next forty years. It remains in print as part of an omnibus of Spillane novels. Here we'll look at some of those printings as well as the first British. The scene illustrated on that first WC edition has been interpreted by various artists for many years - likely the longest lived series in paperback history.

White Circle 384 (1948) - artist unknown

NAL Signet 699 1st printing (December 1948) artist unknown

Arthur Barker 1st British (1952) - artist unknown

NAL Signet 699 6th Canadian printing (April 1957) Art by Barye Phillips

NAL Signet S1775 50th printing (March 1960) - Autographed art by James Avati

NAL Signet D2070 54th printing (January 1964) artist unknown

NAL Signet AE6592 78th printing [undated but 1989] Art by Barye Phillips


  1. Interesting to see this parade of covers, all drawing upon the same scene. I'm struck by the near consistency. The small variations raise questions. Does Spillane describe the skirt as red or blue (or at all)? Is the blouse yellow or pink?

    I can't help but think that each Signet artist was aware of the covers that came before... with the possible exception of the White Circle original.

  2. The similarity between the WC and first Signet has to be a coincidence as they were published only two months apart. The British is obviously an attempt at an exact copy of the Signet and I can see NAL editors telling subsequent artists to recreate the scene for this best selling book. There are also many Signet printings without the scene. I'll show then in another post.

    The scene shown is close to the book. The killer does strip for Hammer while he's holding a gun on her. There is no description of the blouse or skirt. She is described as bra less so the WC is cheating a bit. Of course the scene, and the book, ends, after she's been shot, with the famous:

    "How could-d you?" she gasped.
    I only had a moment before talking to a corpse, but I got it in.
    "It was easy," I said.

  3. The White Circle is indeed a cheat. Understandable, I suppose... I think only NSL would've dared expose Miss Manning's breasts. I've just stumbled across the cover to the 1947 Signet edition, which features yet another version of the same scene... with a yellow blouse and red skirt!