by Jesse Marinoff Reyes ( Jesse Marinoff Reyes Design , Maplewood, N.J.)
Paperback Library, 1970
Illustration: Jack Gaughan (1930-1985)
Gaughan was a remarkable stylist, whose work could have the simplicity and dynamism of a painted comic book cover (lacking the lush painterliness of say, a Frank Frazetta; or the abstract expressionist experimentation of a Richard Powers, yet being stylistically distinctive and engaging) to something like this, falling somewhere between Francis Bacon and Helen Frankenthaler. Gaughan was also responsible for the “unauthorized” Ace paperback covers for J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I’ve been aching to add to my collection.
Seeing Gaughan’s capabilities exploited to this degree by science fiction, not to mention the oeuvre of the aforementioned Richard Powers, and one is reminded yet again how richly packaged science fiction had been in the decades prior to 1980, when a stale uniformity and predictability began to stereotype the genre further into a cosseted, precious ghetto where it mostly wallows in today. Not that there isn’t good packaging in sci-fi/fantasy, but it doesn’t color the breadth of the category—for general day-in and day-out mass market paperbacks—as works like this once did.