Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mae West: Barye

MAE WEST was shrewd about self-promotion. Once her "Diamond Lil" revival was booked for Broadway, she knew it was the ideal time for her novel to be reprinted.
• • First published in 1932, this Gay-90s narrative was reissued by Sheridan Books in 1949. Okay, maybe you can't judge a book by its cover but the eye-appeal of this illustration was undeniable.
• • Commercial artist Barye Phillips began his career in Columbia Pictures' advertising department during the early 1940s; he worked on training booklets and American military propaganda during WW II. Around 1943, Barye Phillips started painting paperback bookcovers. Prolific, versatile, and fast, he accepted commissions from several publishers. His most visible work was for Gold Medal and other Fawcett imprints.
• • In demand, he executed covers for Avon, Bantam, Dell, Pocket Books, and Signet. It's been said that he consistently turned out four finished paintings a week. His ability to work in a variety of styles led to his industry-wide reputation as "King of the Paperbacks."
• • In addition to this "Diamond Lil" gem for Sheridan, Barye Phillips did the dustcover for these titles: Case of the Vanishing Beauty by Richard Prather [Fawcett Gold Medal, 1950]; On the Road by Jack Kerouac [Signet, 1958]; The Big Caper by Lionel White [winner of the Frederick Muller Gold Award, 1961]; and the first paperback edition of Casino Royale by Ian Fleming [Signet].
• • Barye Phillips died in 1969.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West artwork by Barye Phillips • • 1949 • •
Mae West.

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