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At Midwood

Paul Rader had been doing magazine illustrations and a few paperback covers for Balcourt Art Service when Balcourt got the job to provide the covers for a new line of books, Midwood. The first numbered Midwood is #7, with art by Rudy Nappi, another of Balcourt’s crew. Midwood 8, shown here, was Rader’s first Midwood. Sheldon Lord’s CARLA (1958) was author Lawrence Block’s first Midwood too, and his first published book (the first book he wrote and sold, for Crest, came out the following year). CARLA is a study in reds and greens, with a redhead in a green dress surrounded by a swatch of like colors. Right from the start, there’s no question that Rader, and Larry Block, and Midwood Books, will be heard from again.

Rader’s next cover is Midwood 11, IMMORAL WIFE (1959) by Gordon Mitchell, one of the countless pen names used by the young science fiction writer Robert Silverberg. No signature, but compare her hair to Carla’s. (Unless noted otherwise, all covers shown are signed “Rader”. By “not signed”, I mean no artist’s signature is visible on the cover.)

BORN TO BE BAD by Sheldon Lord, #14. Not signed. Rader’s assignment was to catch a passing potential customer’s eye in the split second that potential customer walked past his neighborhood newsstand or drug store paperback rack. Rader did his job well. We celebrate that work here.

18. Loren Beauchamp’s CONNIE was a shocking book that called for a shocking cover, and Rader provided it. This was a Midwood best seller, with at least 6 printings. Beauchamp was the pen name Robert Silverberg used most often at Midwood. His books are always precise and professional.

Midwood 20 is MAN HUNGRY by Alan Marshall, pen name of Donald E. Westlake. Marshall would later become a house name at Nightstand, but Westlake told me he wrote the first 10 Midwood Marshalls. Rader would sometimes drop the final “r” down so far that some uninitiated booksellers have said “cover by Radey”.

21. UNWILLING SINNER by Loren Beauchamp (Silverberg).

Hands-on sensuality. Compare the model to MAN HUNGRY.

The rights to the cover images reverted back to the artist, so in 1967 Rader recycled some of his Midwoods for Bee-Line Books. ANY WOMAN’S STUD, shown here, was Bee-Line 247.

22. SALLY by Alan Marshall. Nude in the mirror. The drinking glass and sink appear drawn in, possibly by another hand. Rader never used that “sketchy”, penciled-in style popular then with many illustrators. The cover art is reproduced on the back cover without that drawing, again suggesting it was added in. Rader’s signature has been partially cut off on our copy.

24. 69 BARROW STREET by Sheldon Lord. The first of many Rader lesbian couples. These two cover models will appear again.

26. JUST ASK FOR MARGARET by W.B. Tasker. Compare with Beacon 313, shown below. Rader’s signature is obscured under the word “inside” on the cover. >

ANOTHER NIGHT, ANOTHER LOVE by Beauchamp confuses novice collectors because it says Midwood 29 on the spine. So does OF SHAME AND JOY. Since there is no Midwood 27 and OF SHAME AND JOY was copyrighted a year later, Midwood collectors have deduced that ANOTHER NIGHT is a mis-numbered #27. Not signed, just looks like a Rader face (and CARLA hair) to me  

<28. ALL THE GIRLS WERE WILLING by Marshall (1960). No signature. I think this is Rader. .

29. OF SHAME AND JOY by Lord is not shown here, but the cover art is identical to the 2nd printing (#121) shown below.

<31. THE WIFE NEXT DOOR – Marshall. For a long time this unsigned cover was credited to Robert Maguire (see for example Warren’s Price Guide). But when I showed it to Maguire at the NY PB Show, he said it was not his. If not Maguire, then who? The style matches another Midwood artist, Paul Rader. The art was later re-used at Edka Books for CALL-GIRL LOVE. >

<32. WOMAN HATER by Dave Carson. Everyone has to have a least favorite Rader cover. This is mine.

33. A WOMAN MUST LOVE – Lord. The book said, “she was young and blonde and beautiful”, so Paul Rader brought her to life. Unforgettable. >

<34. THE CHEATERS by Orrie Hitt. There certainly is a lot of touching going on in these covers. The blonde got a haircut when Rader recycled this cover art for All Star 137, THE PRICE OF PLEASURE. >

<35. KEPT – Lord. Along about here I began to wonder, “How could one artist paint so many beautiful women?” Rader was a genius at it. Here is another brilliant composition, another swirl of color. The model’s pose and shackle-like bracelets reinforce the title’s theme of entrapment

36. VIRGIN’S SUMMER – Marshall. >

37. ANYBODY’S GIRL – March Hastings. Pen name of Sally Singer. If you think Rader seems to be doing almost every cover as Midwood sets its style in 1960, you’re right.

38. A DOCTOR AND HIS MISTRESS – Hitt. Some say not Rader but Rudy Nappi. Nappi himself told me this is not his. So maybe Rader?

39. THE SINS OF MARTHA LESLIE – Holliday. Besides being so overtly sensual, this is also a beautiful painting, all muted tones and warm pastels. A favorite of many Rader collectors. I like it because it’s the man who is nude for a change.

(After such a long run of Rader covers it’s almost a surprise to find another artist on Midwood 40 (CANDY, not shown). That artist was Charles Frace, who also did


41. A GIRL CALLED HONEY – Lord and Marshall. Block and Westlake teamed up for this sex romp about a hooker and an AWOL Air Force boy, and dedicated it to each other. Rader’s signature is hard to see in the corner. Rader reused this art later for MAN’S magazine.

<44. STRANGE BREED – Lucchesi. Rader’s gifted ability to create beautiful women made his lesbian covers favorites of both sexes. There is a hushed easy elegance in these two long-haired lovers

45. TWO OF A KIND – Hitt. The checklist was all set for publication, when it suddenly hit me that this unassigned cover might be a Rader. >

46. GLAD TO BE BAD – Roberts. Signature has been cropped off’ but we recognize that luscious hair, those long fingers, that flash of passion.

47. UNNATURAL – Sloane Britton. Midwood editor Elaine Williams would later change the spelling of her pen name to Britain.

49. FARM GIRL – Cassidy. Warren’s Price Guide says this is Rader. I don’t think it’s him, based on the model’s face and hair, but what do I know? What do YOU think?

At Midwood
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