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A Very Gothic Week — The Art of the Gothic

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It’s difficult to have any real discussion of Gothic genre novels without some mention of the sometimes gorgeous, often lurid, occasionally both at once cover art that was featured on many of these books during the 1960s-1970s Gothic revival. These books and their fantastic cover illustrations are so beloved by paperback collectors that the covers alone have several blogs dedicated to their appreciation (more on that later). Here’s an assortment of classic Gothic romance novel covers, brought to you by the incomparable Book Scans database:

Take care with your cockles, dear readers.

While most of the Dark Shadows’ volumes from Paperback Library featured stills from the TV show, this one has an artistic rendering of Victoria Winters. This could be due to the fact that several actresses played the character of Victoria Winters throughout the show’s original run.

As though the figural skull were not unusual enough, note that this Gothic’s author is proudly male. While many men wrote Gothics during the 1960s-1970s, most did so under female pseudonyms.

At Avon, Satanic Gothics are a subgenre, clearly identified by the satanic skull emblem on the cover. Discuss.

Jane Toombs, who is still writing romance, broke the mold by introducing an African-American heroine to Avon’s Gothic line.

I wish a better image of this beautiful cover were available.

Another gorgeous Avon Gothic.

Not sure if this Georgette Heyer Bantam is a Gothic or no, but it’s being marketed to the Gothic audience.

A Bantam example of that great 1960s-1970s Gothic romance tradition, the woman running from a house. This one is also a good example of a horror/fiction novel being repackaged as a Gothic to take advantage of the Gothic’s huge market share. Wonder how Richard Matheson felt when he saw that his Hell House had suddenly morphed into a Gothic, complete with woman running from Hell House? 

Some books were simply repackaged as Gothics when the genre became hip.  Theresa Charles’ “Happy Now I Go” got a whole new title, the much more Gothic-sounding “Dark Legacy.”

Shew – thank heavens this Dell woman running from a house has a key to the forbidding gate…

Freer’s Cove is so engrossing, in fact, that the woman in this Dell is unable to run from the house and instead becomes part of the landscape.

If all these women running from houses, renamed happy books and brave Gothic-writing men have whetted your appetite for more information about vintage Gothic paperbacks and the people who love them, you’re in for a treat. There are two absolutely wonderful blogs, Women Running From Houses and My Love Haunted Heart,  dedicated to vintage Gothic paperbacks and the artists who drew the bizarre and compelling art for these books. Check them out – you’ll never look at a big, creepy house without wanting to run from it again.

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Author: J.E.

Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

5 thoughts on “A Very Gothic Week — The Art of the Gothic

  1. Thank you for this delightful tour of wonderful cover art. It’s interesting to see that books outside the genre were packaged as gothic romances–I’m thinking of Richard Matheson’s Hell House, which is pure horror and must have confounded readers who picked it up for its cover! You may already know this, but sometimes the original paintings from book covers like these go up for auction on Heritage Auctions’ website (ha dot com) under the category Illustration Art. They’re generally priced out of the range of most of us, but the listings are fun to browse through nonetheless.

    • You have enlightened me — I had no idea that Richard Matheson’s Hell House was not a gothic! There’s a prime example of never judging a book by it’s cover, or in this case, never judging a book by the publisher’s blurb.

      I would LOVE to have some of those paintings. I can’t imagine anything more delightfully tacky 😉

  2. Pingback: The End of a Very Gothic Week – What Happened to the Gothic Revival? « Sweet Rocket

  3. This is a great collection of those Gothic Romance covers of the 60’s and 70’s! There was a point in time when all these books were considered trash (I’m talking the 1990’s of course, the Age of Fabio) but I’m glad to hear that people are collecting these books for their covers!

    • Thanks!
      Regardless of the quality of the books themselves, lol, most of the Gothic Romance covers from the classic Gothic era were, well, classic. I just picked up a huge box ful at a books sale, and as soon as i have a few hours, I’m going to photograph them and post the covers.

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