signet horror paperback covers of the 70s and 80s and related desiderata

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after ward fowler posted the cover of the shoemaker on the sybil thread, I got an immediate nostalgia rush for those signet horror paperbacks of the late 70s/early 80s.

they definitely had a distinct look and feel, even beyond the art itself - a design sensibility.

I can actually trace my fascination w/ these things back to a particular event: around '78 my mom took me into NYC to see mummenschanz on broadway. while killing time in grand central station, I spotted a copy of DEATH TOUR and fell in love. who cares what it was about, it was called DEATH TOUR and the cover was a cheerful, skull-like reptilian creature swimming in a river of blood. fucking blood! my mom declined to buy DEATH TOUR for me, so I petitioned the school librarian for a copy which, much to my surprise and delight, she ordered. I guess she was just happy somebody in the 3rd grade actually wanted to read a book.

so I don't remember much about the book itself, something to do with college students trapped in the sewers with killer... alligators? crocodiles? who cares, look at this cover! it's swimming in fucking blood!

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

signet's horror imprint had to be pretty flush around this time, considering they issued the stephen king paperbacks in the 70s. and they were real beauties. their edition of the shining is one of my favorites. iirc this was a silver foil cover, so a jpg isn't going to do it justice.

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

their version of carrie was crazy, had a wraparound cover and inner front and back cover art

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

they had the brass balls TO NOT PUT THE NAME OF THE BOOK OR THE AUTHOR ON THE COVER

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

how cool is that?

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

their salem's lot was even cooler, not only did it lack the book's name or author on the cover, it was black, with the cover art in a raised imprint, so it didn't even look like anything. another one the internet won't do justice to, however the copies abrasioned by time actually help to show the artwork.

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

reissue looked like this

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

That silver foil edition of The Shining was cool -- 2nd King paperback I bought iirc. 1st one was this, the 1st Signet edition:

The plain blue cover had die-cuts showing the eyes, with a 2nd inner cover with the full image:
http://thoydloki.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/nightshift.jpg

Your sweet bippy is going to hell (WmC), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

night shift was cool, it had a punchout cover, just looked like a bunch of cheesy eyes but then you opened it up and AIGHH wtf is that!

lol xp

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

another signet author I got into was james herbet. in hindsight, his novels are kinda terrible, but I still have a soft spot for THE RATS, which is about a bunch of rats taking over england. RATS! THEY EATS U!

then they made THE RATS into a major motion movie, DEADLY EYES.

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

there was even a sequel to THE RATS called LAIR, dropping a preposition was never more terrifying

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

^ that gemini rat isn't just some cool cover art concept, the book actually featured 2 headed rats! at signet they cared! it was like they actually read the books!

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

here are some more herbert classics

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

the fog, not to be confused with carpenter's the fog, was educational. features a scene where a fog-crazed high school gym class engage in some kind of bloody orgy that climaxes with them lopping off their gym teacher's erect member w/ a pair of garden shears.

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

and a priest urinates on his congregation in the middle of his sermon? it's a messed up book.

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

Wow that Survivor cover is actually moving for me.

how's life, Monday, 30 July 2012 16:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

oh i loved James Herbert so much as a kid, knew you'd have to namecheck the cock-loppage. there's another orgy with old folks getting shish-kebabed whilst engaged in a threesome iirc

Shrimpface Killah (Noodle Vague), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

i mean i read a fair bit of King etc but The Fog was the most right fucking out there book i'd ever read as a teen who hadn't found out about de Sade yet

Shrimpface Killah (Noodle Vague), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

and The Rats was clearly hugely influential

pulp horror fans, you haven't lived until you've read Slugs and it's sequel(s?)

Shrimpface Killah (Noodle Vague), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

actually now i think about it the old folks orgy might've been The Dark. i can't remember what the difference was between the plots of that and The Fog.

Shrimpface Killah (Noodle Vague), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

good thread

max, Monday, 30 July 2012 16:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

James Herbert also clearly the blood brother of Garth Marenghi

Shrimpface Killah (Noodle Vague), Monday, 30 July 2012 16:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

can't remember how old I was when I read the fog, all I know is, too young

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

woods and geasland's twins, the basis for cronenberg's dead ringers, was another nicely austere embossing job

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

doubt this was another rosemary's baby but the cover art was sweet, love the flare effect here

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

good example of a cover that could've looked terrible, but for some reason, doesn't

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:16 (2 years ago) Permalink

if you pitched this cover to me like "there is a ghostly head with some scratches and streaks of blood over the mouth" idk sounds dumb right, but it works

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

can't remember but I think this was embossed too

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

AHHH I WANNA READ ALL OF THESE

homosexual II, Monday, 30 July 2012 17:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

A+ thread

Brad C., Monday, 30 July 2012 17:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

this is like what Summer is to my 8 year old brain... reading some trashy embossed cover horror novel!

homosexual II, Monday, 30 July 2012 17:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

p sure these are all widely available on yr amazons and yr ebays, at 1980s prices too

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

King was not only the Blurbmeister of that tyme (main rival: Thomas Pynchon, didn't plug horror, the wuss), his non-fiction collection Danse Macabre led me to Herbert and many other King contemporaries--also classicks such as The Monk

dow, Monday, 30 July 2012 17:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

so signet apparently went through a period of heavy involvement in the animal/bug/reptile attack genre, some of these will be ridiculous but some are genuinely creepy like, uh, THE CATS

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

snakes why did it have to be snakes

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

was hoping for a tie-in between these two

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

"The venom of savage menace and writhing death," that's got to be way worse that regular old venom.

Brad C., Monday, 30 July 2012 17:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

in GILA! a carnival is apparently devoured by a giant gila monster, I assume the broadway musical was a bomb

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

these are so dope the night shift hand w/eyes used to creep me out bad

lag∞n, Monday, 30 July 2012 17:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

Was going to post a bunch of Robert Heinlein psych-deco Signet covers by Gene Szafran but they're not horror so

Your sweet bippy is going to hell (WmC), Monday, 30 July 2012 17:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

Still got a bunch of Campbells from this era

dow, Monday, 30 July 2012 17:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

Fuck all these covers for scaring the shit out of me and thank you EIII for this thread.

pplains, Monday, 30 July 2012 17:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

I think I read like 2/3 of these when I was a kid!! (not the bug/animal ones though)

We have The Doll Who Ate His Mother on the bookshelves right now.

nicest bitch of poster (La Lechera), Monday, 30 July 2012 18:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

more bugs

the movie tie-in

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 18:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

fuck a snake

Shrimpface Killah (Noodle Vague), Monday, 30 July 2012 18:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

hooray american editions of Hutson

Shrimpface Killah (Noodle Vague), Monday, 30 July 2012 18:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

so beautiful

Shrimpface Killah (Noodle Vague), Monday, 30 July 2012 18:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

speaking of farmer, signet's 70s editions of his stuff was awes

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 18:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

whoa those are super cool

nicest bitch of poster (La Lechera), Monday, 30 July 2012 19:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

almost as good as the 1960 one!

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 19:12 (2 years ago) Permalink

those 70s farmers were by bob pepper who also did those great PKD covers for DAW in the 80s

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 19:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

anyone read this????

homosexual II, Monday, 30 July 2012 19:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

"A highly plotted tale."

The Thnig, Monday, 30 July 2012 20:02 (2 years ago) Permalink

"a novel with sentences"

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 20:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

from what i know of Beryl Bainbridge i doubt the contents have much connection to the cover

Shrimpface Killah (Noodle Vague), Monday, 30 July 2012 20:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

forgot about the bachman signet books

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 20:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

ok until photobucket stops being a bucket of shit I'm done for the day

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 20:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

been trying to find an image of signet's first edition of the shining, it's diff than the one I posted above, but all the ones I'm finding look beat to shit

also the blog toomuchhorrorfiction is a great source for scans of old horror paperbacks

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 20:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

So many of these look so familiar to me. I love this thread.

ms. cookie (carl agatha), Monday, 30 July 2012 21:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

mod night at the oasis (NickB), Monday, 30 July 2012 21:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

mod night at the oasis (NickB), Monday, 30 July 2012 21:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

mod night at the oasis (NickB), Monday, 30 July 2012 21:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

mod night at the oasis (NickB), Monday, 30 July 2012 21:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

mod night at the oasis (NickB), Monday, 30 July 2012 21:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

another icon of the era:

scott seward, Monday, 30 July 2012 21:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

oh yeah! this one too

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 22:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

forgot about all those crichton and cook and follett paperbacks

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 22:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

back when signet was king of the airport bookstand

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 22:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

those 70s farmers were by bob pepper who also did those great PKD covers for DAW in the 80s

And who ALSO did... Forever Changes!

Lewis Apparition (Jon Lewis), Monday, 30 July 2012 22:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

"THE MOST UNINHIBITED, DELICIOUS, EROTIC NOVEL A WOMAN EVER WROTE"

Will Chave (Hurting 2), Monday, 30 July 2012 22:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

"THE MOST BACKHANDED, SEXIST BLURB..."

Will Chave (Hurting 2), Monday, 30 July 2012 22:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

And who ALSO did... Forever Changes!

― Lewis Apparition (Jon Lewis), Monday, July 30, 2012 6:37 PM (25 minutes ago)

during my googling today I stumbled across the blog of a guy who theorized that pepper did the uncredited 60s signet cover for do androids dream of electric sheep based on its similarity to forever changes

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 23:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

this one

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Monday, 30 July 2012 23:13 (2 years ago) Permalink


The thirs Herbert Rats book really frwaked me out--nucelar war destroys the waorld, and the surviviors scrabble round in the rubble being eaten by the intelligent rats of the first two books, now rulers of the world.


This is actually pretty good (I'm a big Bainbridge fan), about two girls who decide to kill an adult--based on the same true story as inspired Heavenly Creatures

computers are the new "cool tool" (James Morrison), Tuesday, 31 July 2012 00:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

That's very effective, looks like the girls next door in my 70s neighborhood. Wonder if the idea for that Salem's Lot ocver came from the original jacket of White Light White Heat: plain black 'til tilted, when a l'il skull could be seen. Think Reed or Cale said the cover was a photo of a biker's tattoo.

dow, Tuesday, 31 July 2012 00:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

More Signet horror covers:



A different Rats cover

computers are the new "cool tool" (James Morrison), Tuesday, 31 July 2012 00:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

forgot all about herbert's threads, er, domain I mean

an affair of sorcerers was a detective novel but yeah the cover looks like another escapee from the horror divi

the summer visitors cover is creeping me out

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Tuesday, 31 July 2012 04:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

that second cover of the rats says a lot about the new era of signet. I know styles change but they just lost the plot somewhere along the way. these covers nowadays aren't going to haunt the bedtimes of children or feed their dreams of monstrous smirking reptiles swimming in rivers of fucking blood.

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Tuesday, 31 July 2012 05:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

I remember staring at this cover for long periods of time.

The Thnig, Tuesday, 31 July 2012 15:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

freaky, looks kinda like robert williams

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Tuesday, 31 July 2012 17:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

omg this entire thread is basically junior high for me

keeping things contextual (DJP), Tuesday, 31 July 2012 17:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Tuesday, 31 July 2012 18:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

From James Herbert's wiki entry

James Herbert, OBE (born 8 April 1943, London[1]) is a best-selling English horror writer who originally worked as the art director of an advertising agency. He is a full-time writer who also designs his own book covers and publicity. His books have sold over forty-two million copies.[2]

Theodora Celery, Wednesday, 1 August 2012 00:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

I can't believe herbert designed *all* his book covers

cuz that means the guy who came up with this

also came up with this

and I don't want to live in that world

vincent black shadow giallo (Edward III), Wednesday, 1 August 2012 16:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

not a signet book but this thread made me check if this cover art was half as frightening to me as when i read it as a kid

lolnope

arby's, Wednesday, 1 August 2012 19:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

5 months pass...

Plenty of fun covers to be found here:

http://uncledougsbunkerofhorror.blogspot.com/

I had this one as a lad and it scared me good:

The Thnig, Monday, 14 January 2013 18:46 (1 year ago) Permalink

Been a long time since I read it, but liked this:

dow, Monday, 14 January 2013 19:19 (1 year ago) Permalink

a friend has it with this cover

dow, Monday, 14 January 2013 19:23 (1 year ago) Permalink

But this is the one I still have

dow, Monday, 14 January 2013 19:26 (1 year ago) Permalink

7 months pass...

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Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 8 September 2013 19:09 (1 year ago) Permalink

arrgh... sorry about the garbage code

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 8 September 2013 19:12 (1 year ago) Permalink

ooh those are good. i like the skull especially.

no fomo (La Lechera), Sunday, 8 September 2013 20:30 (1 year ago) Permalink

These always remind me of books my dad used to read on the beach

I like the Ballantine Lovecraft covers also:


los blue jeans, Sunday, 8 September 2013 20:40 (1 year ago) Permalink

ok well maybe that third one is kinda goofy

los blue jeans, Sunday, 8 September 2013 20:41 (1 year ago) Permalink

He's just a fun guy from Yuggoth, look at his cheeky little face.

emil.y, Sunday, 8 September 2013 21:12 (1 year ago) Permalink


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