Thu 27 Sep 2007
I was looking over the previous post here on the M*F blog this morning, the one on Gardner paperbacks, wondering if I need tweak anything here or there, and it occurred to me that that last cover was the only one that I could remember having a portrayal of Perry Mason on it.
Perhaps I could have you just go back and take a look, but since it’s handy, why don’t I simply show it to you again:
The covers on the earliest Pocket paperbacks, going back to the early 1940s, always seemed to me to be attempts to imitate the art on hardcover jackets, rather subdued and far from lurid:
Later on toward the end of 1940s, the covers at Pocket seemed more and more designed to do their job properly, to catch the eye of the guy (usually) at the newsstand:
That cover at the top of this page must have come from the end of the Pocket era. If that’s Perry Mason who’s pictured on it, it certainly doesn’t look like Raymond Burr, who was perfect in the part, but very much an establishment figure. He was a whole lot younger when he started, though. Here’s the cover of the recent box set, which I’ve bought but (all together now) I haven’t started to watch yet:
To me, the guy on the Pocket cover looks more like Monte Markham, who had the role for about half a season, 1973-74, before they pulled the plug on him. To TV viewers, it was Raymond Burr who was Perry Mason, and no one else. Even though he may not have been playing Mason at the time, this is what Markham looked like then:
But getting back to covers with Mason himself on them, I think I may have found an earlier one after all. It’s from the late 1940s era, and as a character, I don’t think all of his rough edges had rubbed off yet. Mason was a tougher guy at the beginning, his roots (as well as Gardner’s) being solidly in the pulp era, and more specifically Black Mask and Dime Detective.
I think those roots are still showing here: