Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Elaine's Romance Covers

If I had to give a prize for the most delightfully weird romance cover, it would have to go to "The Hungry Ones" from 1966.

Whatever his pickup line is, she seems to be taking him seriously. Should be an interesting date. What he hasn't told her yet is that she's got to fit into his VW with 19 of his friends.

The cover is the work of Elaine Duillo (b. 1928), a prolific and talented artist whose cover paintings defined the look of paperback books from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Like all of her contemporaries: James Avati, James Bama, Pino Daeni,  and Bob McGinnis, she was adept at crystallizing a book's appeal into an arresting image that made you itch to pick it up and start reading. As a woman working a field mainly dominated by male artists, she overcame many discouraging remarks and kept producing work of the highest caliber.

Her work and career are spotlighted in an interview feature in the current issue of Illustration magazine, Issue #37.

Elaine started doing gothic covers, which evolved into the familiar genre of romance covers, where a half-clad, muscle-bound hero with long flowing locks embraces a wild woman in an exotic or historical setting. Elaine helped to make the model Fabio famous. He posed for 19 of her covers.

She worked from black and white photographs of professional models in real costumes. Her painstaking painting process used acrylic paint in fairly transparent layers, which made changes difficult. She retired in 2003.

The current Illustration magazine also features 1950s glamour illustrator Coby Whitmore, one of the Famous Artist School instructors. [Edit--he actually wasn't in the FAS, that would be Jon Whitcomb--thanks, Steve.]
Thanks to Mark Frauenfelder of BoingBoing for mentioning this post.
More GJ posts about pop culture rabbit trails.
Illustration Magazine (preview the whole issue in thumbnail form)
Elaine was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2003 


jeffkunze said...

I bet the clown is saying something to the effect of "you know what they say about guys with big feet."

Anonymous said...

That Clown cover one is not a romance novel. it's a sleaze paperback for the 60's. In other words it's vintage PORN for men. that's why it's selling for

James Gurney said...

Anon -- Now I'm really curious. Can you give us a basic (censored) plot synopsis?

Anonymous said...

That clown... *shudders*

Anonymous said...

I never read it due to the fact the cheapest one one I could find was $75. But I love Elaine's work. Fun fact her husband did sleaze covers too.
Here a link to the $75 one.

Plot (but note these book don't really have plots): "Chris Franklin had been on the job for two weeks but had been unable to shale the feeling of impending disaster."

Meera Rao said...

I have special respect for women who carved a career out of their talents! Thanks for sharing this!

Chris Short said...

I've always loved Elaine's work and had the pleasure to meet her at a number of occasions. I even have three great original covers by her as well! Will definitely pic up this issue!

K_tigress said...

Yup, that's one creepy clown. :s