Thursday, June 14, 2012

Edgar Rice Burroughs and Cover Art

One of the recent prompts of the Author Blog Challenge brought back a childhood memory.

"Describe your process for choosing and designing your book cover.  Who created your cover?  How did you find him/her?  What do you love about your cover?  What might you do differently next time?"

Book covers - it brings back memories of the first author who influenced my writing.


When I was 10 years old, I broke my leg, and was treated at a hospital in the Bronx.  I had to go back to the hospital periodically to see the doctors during my recovery.   On one visit, at the hospital gift store, one of my parents bought me a book to read.  I don't know how or why, but they picked "A Princess of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

It changed my life.

I don't know how many young people have heard of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Even in my day (I am talking the early 60's) enough children may have known Edgar Rice Burroughs mainly through Tarzan movies.  Reruns of old Tarzan movies featuring Johnny Weissmuller were a staple of weekend movie afternoons on non-network local New York City channels.

But this book my parent bought me was something different.  The cover attracted me immediately - an exotically dressed woman in peril, with a muscular man, holding a sword, defending her.  Although the book started slowly, I very quickly got into the story once the hero, John Carter, reached Mars.  I ended up devouring the other 10 books of the series over the next few years.  Then, I went on to other series written by Burroughs - the Venus books, many of the Tarzan books, one of the Pellucidar books, and a couple of his non-series books.

I loved those book covers on the Ballantine and Ace versions of the Martian books from the 1960's.  In doing research, I found that other Edgar Rice Burroughs books were graced with unforgettable covers.  They really wanted to make you buy and read the contents.    Even after I grew up, the tradition of spectacular book covers continued.

Here, Burroughs himself writes about his experiences with illustrations of his books.

I don't have a book written yet, but if I did, I would like someone like Burroughs as my self-publishing mentor. Something tells me Burroughs would have been right at home in this Challenge and in the world of self-publishing. 

Incidentally, if you are interested in reading the Martian (Barsoom) books of Edgar Rice Burroughs, or some of his other books in the public domain, they are available for free online.

Did you find Edgar Rice Burroughs when growing up?  Are you a fan of "his" cover art/illustrations?  Do you long to visit Barsoom one day?

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