EARL STANLEY GARDNER and Perry Mason Through the Years, PART 2

Now, where was I before I was so rudely interrupted by bandwidth issues?

Continuing where I left off, I now give you some Perry Mason covers dating from 1959 to 1966.

This very lazy series cover dates from 1966. I'm assuming it was a decision by the publisher to make the most simplistic series style possible requiring little effort by all involved to say nothing of cheap. No photographer or illustrator to pay. Bring it in the front door, shove it out the back. Or as one fellow designer calls it, "sausage making." I'm not blaming the designer because cover designs are done by committee. Too often way too much input from too many people. This is just a sad case of everyone giving up. In a few years the publisher gave up with this idea and decided sex sold better (see my previous post). Sex sold the year before and sex sold the following years. What was there about 1966? I don't remember pirate things being particularly popular. Yes, I know that skull and cross bones signify death, poison, etc., but this was the best they could come up with in '66?

Printed in 1966.

Earl Stanley Gardner_1966_tatteredandlost

So let's go back a year to 1965 when sex was selling. Subtle sexuality. These photos could have just as easily been found in a woman's magazine. And though a series design, it was at least flexible. Okay, I have no idea what the redhead on the left is doing. Scouring the shower wall in the middle of the night? Did she sleepwalk and do windows? I can't say the images are particularly thought provoking, but then let's remember the direction the covers went the next year. Let's call these the Stepford years. Mindless looking women posing.

Printed in 1965.

Earl Stanley Gardner_1965_tatteredandlost

1962 and 1964. We've finally arrived at covers I'm interested in collecting. Yes, the illustrations look like they could have been from an early '60s Playboy, but they're interesting. You look at these women and know something is going on. They make you wonder what the story is. Well, what I wonder the most is why there's an arrow forming the first part of "Perry Mason" on the 1962 cover. I can guarantee you that someone at the publisher said, "...but is it too clever? Too gimmicky?" There was a committee decision behind this arrow. At least one person had to be convinced the arrow was important.

The cover on the left is from 1962, the one on the right from 1964.

Earl Stanley Gardner_1962_1964_tatteredandlost

1959. Now we're talkin'! This cover, front and back, is just plain fun. A seductress on the front with a strange modern painting of a guy behind her and a brochure in her hand. An interesting blend of vertical and horizontal movement for the eye. Not a stunning cover, but eye-catching. I do wonder what's going on here. On the back we get Earl Stanley Gardner's signature (how many people thought they had just bought an autographed book?) AND an ad for the Perry Mason show staring Raymond Burr.

Printed in 1959.

Earl Stanley Gardner_1959_tatteredandlost

The original tv series was on the air from 1957 to 1966. Earl Stanley Gardner died in 1970 (though one post on Wikipedia says 1969). I wonder how much input Gardner had in each final cover design if any?

To read Wikipedia's post about the Perry Mason tv show click here. Their post about the character of Perry Mason is here. To read about the author, Earl Stanley Gardner, click here. To read a very interesting post about Gardner click here.

Seriously, no matter what you think of the writing or of the show, Perry Mason has been around for a very long time. Good marketing or good storytelling? I'm thinking both.

More Mason covers to come in the next post showing the evolution of marketing one product through many decades.


  1. The sleepwalker is at the Vietnam Memorial before it was built.

    We just finished watching EVERY episode of Perry Mason. We're now moving on to Bones...

  2. The Vietnam Memorial had to be an adaption for the plot line only because the book was written in 1936, and this edition is from 1965 which is 14 years before the idea for the memorial was given birth. I'll have to read the book to try and figure out how they bent the plot to fit this version. Quite interesting. I think often the shows had very little to do with the book titles.