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Classic Covers: The Situation Bears Watching

Published: May 21, 2011

Pop psychologists these days talk about key changes in life; an “aha moment”. Post cover artists, however, are fond of “uh oh” moments.

Worried Rental Agent by Richard Sargent


Worried Rental Agent by Richard Sargent

Worried Rental Agent
Richard Sargent
March 7, 1953


While potential renters are checking out the closet space, the rental agent is checking out the child. A little boy with a big slingshot is scoping out possible new targets. Did we mention lots of nice windows? Definitely bears watching. This is from 1953.

Public Aquarium by George Hughes


Public Aquarium by George Hughes

Public Aquarium
George Hughes
May 15, 1954


Okay, which little boy came up with this bright idea? “Swimming with the fishes” does not normally have a good connotation, but it sounds cool to these kids. Maybe they’re thinking of diving for buried treasure. The security guard is having one of those “uh oh” moments. This is from 1954 by artist George Hughes.

Dr. and the Dog by Richard Sargent


Dr. and the Dog by Richard Sargent

Dr. and the Dog
Richard Sargent
November 21, 1953


Talk about a guard! Little Billy is tensed up for a shot and the dog isn’t sure the doctor should proceed. Maybe. We can’t exactly tell the dog’s mood because we can’t see his eyes. But the prognosis for the doctor doesn’t look good. Like the cover with the worried real estate agent above, this cover was by Richard Sargent.

Automobile Showroom by Amos Sewell


Automobile Showroom by Amos Sewell

Automobile Showroom
Amos Sewell
December 8 , 1956


Wow! A cool new 1957 something-or-other! Teen One is dying to drive this baby to see how fast she can go. Teen Two is daydreaming about how hot Mary Ellen would look in the seat next to him. And Teen Three is underneath the car soon to emerge with a mechanical question that will stump the watchful dealer. Artist Amos Sewell painted this cover, so the editors dubbed the vehicle the Amos Sewell Super-whiz. That’s the cool thing about being an artist; if you want a hot new car you can just manufacture it yourself.

Saturday Rain by Earl Mayan


Saturday Rain by Earl Mayan

Saturday Rain
Earl Mayan
April 25, 1959


The raindrops bear watching, but it looks like the happy gardener is going to win this round. Artist Earl Mayan painted himself as the chagrined golfer, and a friend of his posed for the role of happy flower guy. But will the clouds pass and produce fine golfing weather after all? Well, there’s always next weekend.

Kittens in the Basement by John Falter


Kittens in the Basement by John Falter

Kittens in the Basement
John Falter
January 8, 1955


When Harry the Cat turns out to be Harriett, it is definitely an uh-oh moment. Let’s hope the kids don’t get too attached to the little cuties because while they’re thinking up names for them, Mom and Pop are trying to figure out ways to get rid of them. That will make the dog happy, because right now he looks like he’s lost his best friends.

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  • Frank James Davis

    Ms. Denny’s perceptive and colorful take on these illustrative covers made the viewing decidedly more enjoyable.