They Also Served: Mitchell Hooks



One of my favorite artists, MITCHELL HOOKS‘ covers for Bantam’s late-seventies reissues of Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer novels acted as the visual counterpoint to my descent into this literary obsession of mine. Imagine my glee to discover that, years later, Hooks illustrated (in a completely different style) another of my favorite series, Fawcett Gold Medal’s American printings of Peter Corris’ series featuring Australian P.I. Cliff Hardy. Or to realize that, although I considered him a relative newcomer, Hooks had done illustrations for book covers and magazinesall the way back in the fifties, and that his work included covers for such classic P.I. and hard-boiled writers such as William Campbell Gault, Michael Collins, Michael Avallone, Peter Rabe and Wade Miller.


  • The Lew Archer series by Ross Macdonald
    A montage focussing on a vaguely modish-looking guy’s head, often in a turtleneck, holding up a handgun, with one or two beautiful women circulating around him, and maybe some plot element, all clusted in the center of the cover, all rendered in a sketchy style. Looked sorta square at the time, but they ewere instantly recognizable. And they all had a photo of Macdonald on the back, trying to pose as a badass, complete with fedora.
  • The Cliff Hardy series by Peter Corris (Fawcett, mid-eighties)
    Sharp, high contrast illustrative portraits of the P.I. and all the basic P.I. elements (the phone, the desk, the cigarette, the gun, the bottle, the neon signs) inset into black cover. Moody, evocative, traditional, but classy. I used The Marvelous Boy (1986) as the very first cover for this site, in fact, and Heroin Annie (1987) for another “issue.”
  • The Superspade series by B.B. Johnson (Paperback Library, seventies)
    How seventies can you get? This cat outshafts Shaft. And dig the afros!
  • The 007 Logo and the original movie poster for Dr. No.
    In 1961, David Chasman, then director of marketing and advertising for United Artists, hired Hooks and Joseph Caroff to design the “007 logo” for Dr. No.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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