Wading Into War: Cover Reveal

 ART, book covers, covers, Pulp Fiction  Comments Off on Wading Into War: Cover Reveal
Feb 072015

Scott D. Parker
I’ll admit something to y’all: this is a bit exciting for me. Well, let me take that back. This is a lot exciting.
When you are in the position of creating cover art for your debut book, two things run through your mind, at least they did for me. One is the knowledge that the cover will be the first cover for a book you’ve written that the world will see. For better or worse, the reading public will identify you with that cover. I know I do that with the authors I like. When I think of Dennis Lehane, I think of MYSTIC RIVER and the hardback cover art. 
His other covers flow through my mind but only after I see that 2001 novel. The same holds true for movies. This is always the first image I think of regarding Star Wars.
With all of that pressure in mind, my first cover had to be something of which I was proud. More to the point, it had to be the physical embodiment of what I saw in my head. WADING INTO WAR is a period piece, set in 1940. That’s deep in the heart of the pulp era and I wanted a cover that reflected that vibe. Moreover, I wanted cover *art*, a picture that illustrated a scene in the book. Lastly, I wanted to put my own stamp on it, to bring my quirky vision to this project.
So here it is.

Font: With this being a period piece, I wanted the title font and the shape of the letters to give the reader a clue to the contents. I think art deco is a great font and it instantly sprang to mind when I envisioned the cover.
Colors: Most of the old pulp magazine covers blared out of the newsstand with vivid colors. I, on the other hand, wanted a more black-and-white image. I’ll be honest that the style of the Batman Animated Series was my inspiration for the figures. The primary color is yellow, partly for its ability to stand out in a crowded ebook field but also as an homage to the old pulp magazines that had a monocolor cover with art on top of it. The blood is the jump color to let the reader know that dude in the house means business.
Logo: Initially, I wasn’t going to have the logo on the cover. Then, after my last markup to my graphic artist, I realized I had a blank space. Enter the logo. And, frankly, it hearkens back to the things I first read: comics. Again, a deliberate choice.
The Graphic Designer
Speaking of all this, you may wonder if I’m a multi-talented renaissance man who can write as well as design. Wonder no longer: that ain’t me. But I had the perfect solution.
A good friend of mine and former co-worker, Ike, was more than happy to accommodate me. You have already seen his good work with the logo for Quadrant Fiction Studio and now you have evidence of what he can do for a book cover.
When Ike and I worked together at our day job, I used to joke that he was halfway finished with a project before I was even finished telling him what needed to be done. He’s an intuitive artist who can give you exactly what you want but will also guide you into making better decisions. He fully cooperated with me in all my weird ways of trying to describe what I wanted. We no longer work at the same day job and our homes are across Houston from each other so we relied on emails and Skype calls. He never batted an eye, even when I’d ask for a little tweaks multiple times. Ike was nonplussed. In fact, the more this project went on, the more enthusiasm we both showed for this final product.
And it shows. I can think of no better compliment for Ike than this: without him and his willingness to work with me and his excellent ability to create something from nothing, this cover, this work of art that I saw in my head, would not be real. It would still be inside my head.
But it isn’t. It’s out here, for all the world see. Thanks, man, for making a dream a reality.

INQUIRY: Unknown Spy Action Book Cover

 covers, Inquiries  Comments Off on INQUIRY: Unknown Spy Action Book Cover
Jan 172015

An inquiry from Bill Bickley:

Hello- I’m trying to identify what book the painting I purchased recently was used on…any ideas?? I thought it was a Mack Bolan or Nick Carter but have gone through most of those covers online to no avail. Do you know or perhaps know someone who has an encyclopedic knowledge of these types of books you can show or post this for others to see and offer opinions/answers?? Thanks!

 Posted by at 7:40 pm
Nov 132014

My newest book, the short story anthology Everybody Lies, is finally out. It’s available here – and of course it’s in Finnish and the actual title is Kaikki valehtelevat, which is the literal translation of James Reasoner’s story in the book.

The book consists of some 20 criminous short stories from writers like Reasoner, Jason Starr, Kevin Wignall, Duane Swierczynski, Vicki Hendricks and Patricia Abbott. All of the stories came previously out in my mags Isku, Ässä and Seikkailukertomuksia (= Adventure Stories), that were self-published pastiches of old-time crime rags. All the translations have been edited and proofread carefully. It’s a nice and varied collection of new hardboiled and noir writing, especially since almost none of these writers are available in Finnish at the moment. Most of the stories were translated by me, but some of them were translated by some of my talented friends, namely Antti Autio, Tapani Bagge, Sonja Lahdenranta and Lotta Sonninen. Thanks for them for the big help! 
The beautiful cover was envisioned by a friend of mine, Jenni Jokiniemi, who works as a designer. This was her first book cover, if I understood correctly. I hope to collaborate with her more in the future. 
Here’s the table of contents. 
I’m actually doing another collection in the same vein, of the flash fiction stories I published in Ässä. I’ve been asking for permissions from writers, but not all have responded. If you read this and remember having received an e-mail or a Facebook message from, please do respond! 
Nov 122014

A week ago I had a feeling I’d like to read something that wasn’t work-related in any way. As usual, I had some trouble finding something suitable to read even though I have some 5,000 books in my shelves.

However, I picked up a Finnish anthology of old sword and sorcery stories, mainly from Weird Tales, but also from some other pulp mags. The book is called Mustan jumalan suudelma AKA Black God’s Kiss after the story by C. L. Moore in the book. Of the stories I read, Moore’s was the best. It’s full of surreal images and still it moves with a breakneck pace. Very beautiful and thrilling. The story came out first in Weird Tales in 1934.

The other stories I read were Robert E. Howard’s novella-length “The Black Stranger” (1934-1935, unpublished in Howard’s life-time, published in 1953 in abridged form and in 1987 in original form) and Manly Wade Wellman’s “Thunder in the Dawn” (Amazing Stories 1939). Wellman’s story was a bit slow and dated, I didn’t feel the thrill of adventure in this, even though the premise is pretty good: a stone age warrior is really the Hercules of the Greek lore and is the cause of Atlantis sinking in the ocean. Howard’s story pits Conan against some pirates and settlers, in the story everyone deceives one and another. It’s a great read, though I still preferred C. L. Moore.

The striking cover in the book was drawn by Jukka Murtosaari, a friend of mine, who’s studied classical American illustration art for decades now – and it clearly shows. The editor of the book is one Markku Sadelehto, who’s done a good day’s work bringing American pulp fiction to Finnish readers, as he’s edited tons of anthologies for different publishers for over 20 years now. His magnum opus is the edition of the collected stories of H. P. Lovecraft. The sixth and final volume came out just two months ago.

Alas, I didn’t have time to read more of the stories from the book. I’ve read this when it came out some 20 years ago, but don’t remember much of it.

Philip Chambers and Sexton Blake

 British pulp, covers, Philip Chambers, Sexton Blake  Comments Off on Philip Chambers and Sexton Blake
May 122014

Philip Chambers is a writer almost next nothing is known of. He was born in 1936, is possibly dead by now, wrote six Sexton Blake stories in the early sixties and nothing else. I’ve skimmed through his Blake story Bullets to Bagdad (1960) in which a secret organization is planning to take over the government in Iraq and take their oil supplies. In the story Blake’s boss is and old man called Craille. He’s the leader of the British counter-intelligence organization, as secret as the criminal organization in the book.

Here are some of Chambers’s Sexton Blake covers. Pretty good ones, too, but I don’t know the illustrator. There’s a signature in Keep It Secret!, it seems it says “S. Barany”.

Mar 302014
By Kristi Belcamino
I’m just going to say right off the bat that I’m a little bit intimidated to even attempt to fill Joelle Charbonneau’s shoes on this amazing blog.
Why? Well, because she’s a rock star.
Joelle is one of the most dedicated and talented writers I know. And for some reason, I’ve been lucky enough to have her in my corner for the last few years. Damn lucky.
We first met when she judged a contest I entered. She wrote her name on my judging form, and asked me to keep in touch. Ever since that day, she’s been one of the most supportive and nicest writers I’ve ever met. And as I got to know her, I soon realized she was by far one of the hardest working writers out there, as well.
So when Joelle asked me to take her spot here at Do Some Damage on Sundays, I was floored, flattered, and thrilled at the same time. She’ll be back to guest post and I made sure to tell her if she ever changes her mind, this spot is really and truly always hers.
By now, though, you’re probably wondering who is Kristi Belcamino.
I’m a crime fiction writer, Italian mama of two feisty little girls, and a part-time newspaper reporter living in Minneapolis. My first novel, Blessed are the Dead, goes on sale June 10th. It’s inspired by my dealings with a serial killer when I was a full-time cops reporter working the San Francisco Bay Area crime beat.
When my editor and publicist found out I’d been asked to join Do Some Damage, they immediately suggested I reveal the cover for my new book here first. (Just shows how respected and beloved this blog is.)
Steve Weddle was gracious enough to give me the thumbs up on revealing my cover as part of my first post and the stars aligned.
Before I do so, I want to thank Steve and Joelle and all you loyal readers for allowing me to take over the Sunday spot on this blog. I’ve got a bunch of ideas for posts, but am also very excited to hear what you’d like to read about, so feel free to shoot me an email at kristibelcamino@gmail.com and tell me your thoughts and ideas. You can also find out more about me at my website, www.kristibelcamino.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kristibelcaminowriter.
Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of Do Some Damage!
Here is the back cover copy for my book, Blessed are the Dead
To catch a killer, one reporter must risk it all…
San Francisco Bay Area newspaper reporter Gabriella Giovanni spends her days on the crime beat flitting in and out of other people’s nightmares, yet walking away unscathed.
When a little girl disappears on the way to the school bus stop, her quest for justice and a front-page story leads her to a convicted kidnapper, Jack Dean Johnson, who reels her in with promises to reveal his exploits as a long-time serial killer to her alone. Gabriella’s passion for her job quickly spirals into obsession when she begins to suspect Johnson may have ties to her own dark past: her sister’s murder.
 Risking her life, her job, and everything she holds dear, Gabriella embarks on a path to find answers and stop a deranged murderer before he strikes again.
Perfect for fans of Sue Grafton and Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series!
If you want to preorder a copy of the book you can do that here.  
If you don’t want to wait, keep an eye on my Facebook page. You might just have a chance to win an early copy. 
And (drumroll please) here is the cover:

 Posted by at 6:00 am

Unused Finnish cover for Jason Starr’s Fake ID

 Arktinen Banaani, covers, Fake ID, Finnish illustrators, illustrations, Jason Starr  Comments Off on Unused Finnish cover for Jason Starr’s Fake ID
Jan 092014

Can’t believe I haven’t posted this earlier.

Remember when I used to edit the noir paperback series for a Finnish publisher, with books by Duane Swierczynski, Christa Faust, Scott Phillips and others? Well, the story didn’t end well, since the line was canceled after six books. The format was changed into hardcover, but that didn’t help.

I’d already translated Jason Starr’s excellent Fake ID over years ago and it was scheduled to come up next in the series, in hardcover. Ossi Hiekkala made this very nice cover illustration to go with it, but the book never came out, due to many reasons. I can’t really tell you how sorry I’m for this.

Nov 282013

I bought this old Finnish paperback (published in 1947) with three short stories in it several months ago, mainly because it has a Zorro story in it. If I’m right, this is the only real Zorro story by Johnston McCulley published in Finnish. It’s probably one of the later Zorro stories that were published in pulp magazines, such as West. I believe these stories have never been reprinted.

I didn’t read the Zorro story in the book, but I read the two preceding stories. The first one that also gives the book its title is written by “David Keene”. The title reads as “The Queens of Death”. Now, there’s no David Keene who has written any kind of crime novels or stories that I can find. I can’t find any trace of a story called “The Queens of Death”. Of course it’s possible that this story was published in a pulp magazine no one has ever indexed, but somehow I don’t think that’s right. I got to thinking it might be possible this is really by Day Keene. The Finnish publisher may have thought that “Day” is not a right name for an author and changed him to “David”. These things happen. And Day Keene happens to have a pulp story called “Three Queens of the Mayhem”, published in Detective Tales in February 1946, so it’s entirely possible that this story found its way to Finland and got published as part of a three-story anthology.

There are three old women in David Keene’s story. They are old ladies living together. They were once famous singers called The Beverly Sisters, but getting caught in a murder case ruined their career. Now one of the sisters asks private eye called Tom Doyle to try to find a girl one of the sisters was forced to give away to an orphanage. The story is fun, mildly parodist in tone and plot. It’s written strictly in the zany school of hardboiled writing, reminiscent of Robert Bellem, Richard S. Prather and others. So, is it “Three Queens of Mayhem”? Anyone? Or is it some other story by Day Keene? Or is there a David Keene?

There’s also another short story to stir up interest. It’s called “Kadonnut sävel”, which means “The Lost Tune” or some such. The hero of the story is troubleshooter of some sort called Hannibal Smith. He’s a former sports coach, but now makes his living selling used stuff, giving loans and doing services to people. Hannibal Smith is a fat man, but he’s also resourceful and intelligent and quick with his mouth. Now, there’s a Hannibal Smith story called “Down Among the Dead Men” published in Dime Detective in 1945, written by C. William Harrison, who’s best known for his paperback westerns. (I’ve read one, it was pretty good.) I’m pretty sure this story is by the same C. William Harrison. Can anyone confirm? The story is funny as Hannibal Smith is asked to take a photo of a cow somewhere in the fields. He does exactly that, but fast he realizes he maybe shouldn’t have, since he’s being suspected of a murder…

The great Finnish cover is by Poika Vesanto. Probably – I can’t find his signature in the cover.

Oct 162013

You think I’m productive? Not all the books that were supposed to come out this Fall didn’t work out as planned, but I’m still putting out some seven books. One of these was the Lovecraft novel I mentioned earlier, another one is a sword and sorcery novel that came out roughly the same time Haamu/Ghost came out.

Sword and sorcery novel? Yeah, Viimeinen bjarmialainen/The Last Bjarmian (Bjarmia is a mythical place in the north-east region of Finland) is something I’ve always wanted to do and now here it is. This story came out first in five installments in the Seikkailukertomuksia/Adventure Stories mag I edited and published some years back. I wrote my serial set in ancient Finland almost from a scratch and later on I realized the story resembles westerns a lot: a lone swordsman comes into a small town, finds the town people corrupt, but still has to fight some bad guys that threaten the town from outside. But these bad guys are weird gigantic white monsters, not your basic Injuns or robbers. And they have a mysterious leader, living in a cave no one has ever seen… It’s a bit like Hammett’s Red Harvest coupled with Lovecraft.

The serial went through quite many edits before it hit the print, and I still think there remained lots to be done. The main problem was that the battle scenes resemble each other too much, but last week I figured out how it could’ve been avoided – two weeks after the book had come out. I guess this happens a lot.

There’s also my foreword telling how the story got into print. (I posted the foreword here – in Finnish, of course.) The cover illo is another one by Aapo Kukko, who’s really good at these things. He said he wanted to draw my hero, a guy called Pesäri, with Alain Delon in his mind. And I think he got it exactly right.

Writing these things – this and my collection of Joe Novak private eye stories and the one novel about Joe Novak – is more like a hobby to me, though it takes a considerable amount of time. Writing this kind of stuff is practicing my craft, practicing how to narrate a story, construct the dialogue, keep the story moving. In the gone days of pulp and paperback publishing you could do this for money, now you have to self-publish or rely on your friends’ micropublishing outfits, like in this case. Tuomas Saloranta does a good work with his Kuoriaiskirjat, and I’ve already agreed on doing another book – a small anthology – for him. Here’s hoping someone finds reading Viimeinen bjarmialainen as much fun as I had writing the story!

Oct 092013

As many of you may remember, I’ve been doing a book on British paperback crime writers for years now – actually for over ten years… I now decided as I’m kind of between jobs that I’ll finish the book no matter what and publish it myself before the next summer.

I don’t have the time to read all the books I don’t find necessary to read. I’ve already read six or seven books by Dennis Phillips (1924–2006) who wrote under many aliases. His Peter Chambers (sic) books are light-fare private eye novels and his Philip Daniels books are mediocre thrillers. I noticed I hadn’t read Murder Forestalled (1960) that came under his Peter Chester by-line. I found a small description of the book’s plot at Amazon and decided to help future historians by blogging it. These kind of descriptions are hard to come by on forgotten British crime fiction. The Thrilling Detective site has an entry for Mark Preston who was “Peter Chambers’s” private eye hero, but not for Johnny Preston who featured in “Peter Chester’s” books.

I don’t seem to be able to find the original cover, so here’s the Finnish paperback cover (which is by Robert McGinnis and from altogether different book).

So, here you go: “Barbara Porter came into private eye Johnny Preston’s office because she was in trouble. She was being blackmailed and some crook was demanding a thousand dollars from her…money she just didn’t have. She wanted Preston to get rid of the blackmailer…but when she told him the crook’s name was Jack Mahoney, he knew someone had already attempted the job. As Mahoney lay dying in hospital another mobster came in and finshed him off. And with the blackmailer well and truly dead, Preston found himself right back on the case again.”

And oh, by the way, don’t mix this Peter Chester with the convicted murderer. Nice to see some traffic here, though!