Monday 29 November 2010

Donald E. Westlake T.V. Boardman First Edition Book Cover Gallery (Featuring Denis McLoughlin)

Here in Britain, the initial eight novels Donald E. Westlake wrote under his own name, from 1960's The Mercenaries to 1966's The Spy in the Ointment, were all first published, in hardback, by T.V. Boardman, largely as part of that publisher's American Bloodhound Mystery series. All but one of those were graced by dustjackets designed by prolific comics artist and illustrator Denis McLoughlin, at the time effectively Boardman's art director (he produced something like 600 crime novel covers alone for them).

With the arrival of the Westlake Score I blogged about in the previous post, I now have half of those Boardman editions of Westlake's novels (UPDATE: make that a clean sweep – follow The Mercenaries361 and Pity Him Afterwards links), and I've managed to purloin pictures of the ones I'm missing. I'll update this post as and when (or even if) I track down the books I'm missing, but for now, here's an essentially complete gallery of the Donald E. Westlake T.V. Boardman first editions.

The Mercenaries, 1961 (1960 in the US), dustjacket design by Denis McLoughin. Note the use of a photograph of a hand; McLoughlin would deploy this photo-collage technique again on a later Westlake novel, The Busy Body.

Killing Time, 1962 (1961), dustjacket design by Denis McLoughlin. This is the most traditionally illustrative of McLoughlin's Westlake jackets, but even here, the unusual placement of the title, with its bright red 'Killing' contrasting against the black and white illustration, and the resultant energy created across the cover, marks the design out.

361, 1962 (ditto), dustjacket design by Denis McLoughlin. Again, the treatment of the title – that huge blue '361' – transforms what might have otherwise been a pedestrian design. In fact, the cover owes more to advertising of the period than it does to contemporaneous covers.

Killy, 1964 (1963), dustjacket design by Denis McLoughlin. Here we can see McLoughlin's signature chiaroscuro/negative space/spot colour style in full effect, with Killy defined purely by his head, glimpses of his shirt, his hand, and that scarlet, stylized heart.

Pity Him Afterwards, 1965 (1964), dustjacket design by Denis McLoughlin. A bold, bloody book cover, particularly for its time.

The Fugitive Pigeon, 1966 (1965), dustjacket design by Denis McLoughlin.

The Busy Body, 1966 (ditto), dustjacket design by Denis McLoughlin, here mixing up photography with illustration and typography, as on The Mercenaries. Neither this book nor the next (and final) Westlake novel Boardman published were assigned an American Bloodhound Mystery number, so presumably they're not a part of that series. Perhaps the comic turn Westlake's novels had taken didn't quite fit with the imprint's modus operandi.

The Spy in the Ointment, 1967 (1966). This was the last Westlake novel published by Boardman, and for once the dustjacket wasn't designed by Denis McLoughlin, most likely because by this point Boardman had been taken over and McLoughlin had begun drawing stories for IPC's boys' comics Lion, Thunder and Tiger. Instead, Boardman took the same jacket as was used for Random House's 1966 edition, which was designed by Martin Pickwick, about whom I've been able to discover precisely nothing; searching for his work online mostly turns up references to Charles Dickens, who wrote two novels that together successfully frustrate all Googling efforts: Martin Chuzzlewit and The Pickwick Papers. Damn you, Dickens!


  1. thanks for this article with pictures of the book covers. Great stuff.

    Dave Kanell
    Kingdom Books
    Waterford, Vt

  2. Fantastic posting - it's really great to see more of McLoughlin's 'noire' cover art.

    The figure on the cover of "Killy" looks like a portrait of the artist himself.