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In “Cover Me”, renowned author Colin Larkin presents an affectionate and thoroughly-researched celebration of the classic Pan Books paperbacks published between 1950 and 1965, beautifully illustrated with sumptuous full-colour reproductions of over 300 of the original cover artworks.
Pan books represented a cultural beacon as Britain recovered from World War II and slowly moved from the harsh austerity and rationing of the 1950s into the more upbeat 1960s. While in many respects the public of that period had to endure a life in monochrome – black-and-white TV, low-budget B-movies and grainy holiday snaps – Pan books presented escapist images in glorious colour. They perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the era, as people sought out cheap reading material that astutely reflected contemporary tastes: crime novels, westerns, historical fiction, movie tie-ins, true-life war memoirs and early science fiction.
“Cover Me” presents the highlights of a unique archive of original Pan cover paintings, many of them iconic images of the era. Larkin has owned this major art collection since 1990, and has lovingly researched the Pan Books history, the many superb artists who worked with the company, and the fascinating production process. His own experience makes him ideally qualified to chronicle a subject that has been a passion of his since childhood.
‘A veritable and invaluable cornucopia of memories reviving the forgotten art of so many leading British illustrators and an excuse for nostalgia galore.’ Maxim Jakobowski, Crime Time
‘Its author says it’s not an art book, but I’d disagree – it’s a celebration of artistic work that has often been overlooked. 9/10’ Paul Simpson, SciFiOnline
‘A must for Pan collectors, this is the kind of book that will hopefully lead the many artists dismissed out of hand as hacks working for the commercial market to be reassessed.’ Steve Holland, Bearalley
‘For me, this is blissful nostalgia but Cover Me is also a vital resource for students of art and design, the history of popular fiction and the days, pre-Amazon, when you really could tell a book by its cover.’ Mike Ripley, Shots Magazine
‘You won’t be surprised to hear that for me this new collection (described on the jacket as ‘An Appraisal by Colin Larkin’) is absolute catnip, with its luxurious large format reproductions giving us the chance to enjoy the dramatic and colourful artwork of such masters as John Pollack Edward Mortelmans and SR Boldero in a format which makes it considerably easier to appreciate the art than on the foxed paperbacks that we collectors cherish.’ Barry Forshaw, Crime Time
‘This large and lavishly illustrated book is a joy to leaf through … a long-term project, clearly a labour of love, and Telos have done [the author] proud with the quality of reproduction of the images. Author and publisher deserve to be congratulated.’ Martin Edwards
‘Cover Me is quite simply one of the most beautiful appreciations of the paperback format I can remember reading’ Andrew Nette
‘An entertaining and beautifully illustrated survey of book covers from a bygone era.’ Paul Burke, NBMagazine
Approx 256pp. Large format 22cm x 28cm hardback. Litho printed. Fully illustrated in full colour throughout.
Published 2 November 2020
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Colin Larkin originally trained as an apprentice commercial artist studying typography and book design at the former London College of Printing. He progressed through London Art Studios, finding his skills best suited to working in book publishing. After four years at Longmans as a designer/art editor he left to become the art director of the book and exhibition catalogue publishing company for the vast World of Islam Festival in 1976. He then founded Scorpion Publishing, with a specialist list of art, architecture and oriental rugs, together with music biographies and social history.
Having also built a separate career since 1967 as a music writer, in 1990 Larkin formed Square One Books to create his mammoth “Encyclopaedia of Popular Music” project. Initially published by Guinness in 1992, the ongoing series was later picked up by Macmillan, Virgin, OUP and Omnibus Press. The final 10 volume set, together with 56 spin-off books, became a worldwide success, with total sales exceeding 650,000. Larkin is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading experts on the history of popular music. His Wikipedia entry details his achievements. In 1997, he sold Square One to a major USA data company, MUZE Inc., and continued as its full time editor-in-chief until 2008. His unique collection of Pan artwork and Pan books has been lovingly researched over the years since he first acquired it in 1990.