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Friday, February 26, 2016

Comic Cuts - 26 February 2016

With the March issue of Hotel Business a distant memory—well, we finished it on Tuesday and I've blocked all thought of it for two whole days!—and the proof for Iron Mask only just arrived, I've very little in the way of news.

Given that, I thought I'd do a little digging to go with today's random scans. Ray Theobald is probably best know to a handful of collectors for his covers for Curtis Warren's early science fiction novels where they graced the likes of King Lang, Gil Hunt, Neil Charles, Ray Barry... all house names hiding a mixed bunch of writers of varying talent who had, for the most part, been asked to take a break from knocking out oaters and do a bit of Buck Rogers stuff for a couple of months.

I have a feeling that Theobald might have been brought in because Curtis Warren's regular Western artists, led by Nat Long, did not want to switch genre and, when there was a break in Curtis's SF output, he was bounced from space opera to horse opera.

Theobald went on to produce covers for Modern Fiction, John Spencer and even had at least three covers published by Pan Books. In the late 1950s he did some work for Robert Hale and Four Square Books, but he seems to disappear about 1960.

Who he was and what else he did is a mystery.

I've also added a couple of other early Curtis westerns, unsigned.

 
 
 

Here's a bit of bonus speculation about Ray Theobald. While I was searching around for any potential information, I stumbled across an eBay listing for a 1933 Gramol paperback, The Monocled Man by James Ronald. (The listing is still active at the time of writing.) I've cleaned up the cover as best I can, but it's still a bit blurry.

But take a close look—if you click on the image below and you'll get a larger version. Compare the two guys in the background to typical Theobald characters in the Modern Fiction covers for Griff and Blair Johns below (sorry about the quality of the latter). Theobald couldn't draw guns. That and the stiffness of his figurework makes me wonder if he was the artist of the earlier title and that we may have tracked his career back from his previously known earliest book cover (1950) by 17 years.

 
If I get a chance, I'll see if I can put together some more gallery pics for Ray Theobald—not the greatest artist of paperback covers, but you can't deny they're lively and colourful!

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