The Spy Who – The Art – Part 4

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It’s been over two years but I’ve laid hands on yet another abridged version of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. We’ve seen two previous abridged versions, one in a magazine called True and the next in Reader’s Digest. My latest find ran in a magazine called Show – The Magazine of the Arts.

Previous The Spy Who versions I’ve looked at-

Part 1

Part 2

Part 2.5

Part 3

My first post will look at some of the art with my second highlighting commentary from le Carré on how he came to write The Spy Who Came in from the Cold that I haven’t seen anywhere other than this publication 55 years ago.

In October 1963, a year after they had their first real taste of the Cold War stalemate and just before their innocence was lost forever, Americans were getting their first taste of the harsh reality of life at the Berlin Wall via The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Over three issues of Show, from October through December of 1963, the book was published featuring art from Paul Davis. This was the first appearance of the book in the US as it actually preceded the US hardcover edition of The Spy Who.

Paul Davis has been an in demand graphic artist for the past 60 years. Best known for his painted poster art, he’s done everything from Broadway theatrical productions to historical figures.

In 1938 Davis was born in a small Oklahoma town. He began selling freelance art to publications in his teens before joining an art design studio in New York City his early twenties. By the age of 25 he was going out on his own and having his artwork published by all the major magazines of the era. That’s a quick career path most artists could only dream of having.

Davis won the Professional Association for Design medal for “exceptional achievements in the field of design” in 1989 and Steven Heller wrote an excellent in depth biography that details his start as an artist and how he came to create art in his particular, and ever changing, style.

At the height of magazine age in the 60’s he was creating images for the art directors of all the major magazines – Playboy, Esquire, Sports Illustrated and more. Howard Wolf, the art director of Show, commissioned art to accompany the serialization of The Spy Who which was to be printed over the course of three months in late 1963.

Unlike the other abridgments we’ve seen, it seems likely that Davis created this art without much knowledge of the book. This is opposite of his later work for various New York theater companies when he was one of the few artists to read the plays and watch rehearsals before creating his posters.

The first piece is a kind of odd abstract image of a stereotypical trench coated spy with a disembodied hand writing Rolling Stone on his back and eyes peering from a cloud. Not exactly what pops to mind when you think of The Spy Who.

The second image is a bit more on target with a bloody bullseye weeping blood onto the small figures of presumably Lemas and Elizabeth Gold running for the wall.

The final full page illustration is another mashup of various spy tropes. The femme fatale, a man with a gun, a dark and mysterious cityscape and of course someone in a trench coat.

The last image created was a small insert of a woman reflected in a pool of blood.

This was the first art created for The Spy Who; before the book became an international sensation and sent le Carré to the top ranks of espionage writers. Since it is the first it suffers a bit by being slightly generic. It was America’s first encounter with Leamas and Elizabeth so their race for the Berlin Wall hadn’t yet been burned into readers memories. That would come soon with the hardcover release and be further cemented with the movie starring Richard Burton.

Coming soon: Le Carré had not yet revealed the truth about his work for MI5 and MI6 so a contemporaneous essay on how and why he wrote the book printed in Show is an interesting contrast with some of his later essays on the same subject.

2 thoughts on “The Spy Who – The Art – Part 4

  1. Pingback: The Spy Who oddities- Part 4.5 – Spy Write

  2. Pingback: The Spy Who – The Art – Part 5 – Spy Write

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