Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

June 7, 2020

One Man Army: The Action Paperback Art of Gil Cohen (New Texture–Men’s Adventure Library)

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Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY HC cover

One Man Army: The Action Paperback Art of Gil Cohen

(New Texture–Men’s Adventure Library)

Edited by Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle

available in hardcover (see above) and softcover (see below)

order online from:  Amazon US link for One Man Army, hardcover

Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY PB cover 2

Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle follow-up their superb books devoted to the work of Samson Pollen with this exciting and beautifully done collection of the paperback book art of GIL COHEN, a man known and respected for his magazine art, his paperback book art, and his aviation art. More specifically, ONE MAN ARMY covers Cohen’s work for the iconic MACK BOLAN: THE EXECUTIONER paperbacks and other related series written by Don Pendleton.  The Pendelton/Bolan books are a genre unto themselves, and many used bookstores will have an entire section devoted to these paperbacks. Pendleton had a streamlined, tightly-wound, whip-crack literary style that did not have a wasted word and pulled the reader from chapter to chapter. In some ways, the entire industry of 80’s and 90’s straight-to-video action films (still being made today in quantity, by the way) are indebted to the vibe created by Pendelton/Bolan/Executioner books.

While the books delivered the goods, those goods might not have been purchased without the cover art. Remember, in the pre-internet era, people did not “surf” in their spare time and stumble across things that would catch their interest for 30 seconds—-they went to a bookstore or a newsstand, looked over the offerings, and spent their hard-earned money on a physical book….a MACK BOLAN: THE EXECUTIONER paperback. It was a conscious purchase that necessitated leaving one’s house. Those memorable hard-boiled, stylized covers on the books managed to distill both the content and the attitude of the books into one image on the cover–it had to be an image that would both inspire someone to buy the book and to plant visuals into the readers’ minds when they got the book home and spent an evening or two with it. For many readers, the images in their mind’s eye would grow out of the image on the cover, using that as a seed planted in the imagination. And that seed was planted by artist GIL COHEN. It’s no wonder that when Pendelton switched publishers, Cohen was asked to continue doing the covers, and when non-Executioner spin-off series were started, Cohen was asked to do those covers too—-after all, Cohen’s art was an important touchstone of the brand. He was also responsible for the picture of Bolan that ran for years at the top of the front cover, separate from the cover art. Even if you never bought or read a Mack Bolan novel, you saw them in bookstores new and used, and you knew what the brand represented by seeing the cover, even at a distance….that was due to Cohen’s art.

Editors Deis and Doyle has collected over 100 ORIGINAL ARTWORKS by Cohen used for these covers, and they’ve presented them with clarity and richness and taste in this fine book. When I first heard about the book coming out, I assumed we’d be getting the paperback book covers, but no, we get the original paintings. To say they are full or beauty and power would be an understatement—-they are both precise (Cohen is an ex-military man—-as was author Pendleton—- and someone familiar with weaponry, so not just the weapons, but they way they are held and the position of the fingers and the arm is accurate) and evocative.

Each of the 100+ artworks here takes you into its own vivid world and suggests the action and intrigue you’d get in the actual books—-we also get a fascinating 12-page  introduction, in Cohen’s own words, about the paperback commissions, his working technique, his use of models and his methods for exactitude and specificity, and his take on the Bolan/Executioner books and their legacy. You couldn’t ask for a finer representation of this side of Cohen’s work.

MB#80 Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY Running Hot (1985)

MB#56 Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY Island Deathtrap (1983)

MB#60 Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY Sold for Slaughter (1983)

MB#31 Gil Cohen ONE MAN ARMY Arizona Ambush (1977)

and now a sampling of some of the original paperback covers:

mack 1

mack 2

mack 3

ONE MAN ARMY: THE ACTION PAPERBACK ART OF GIL COHEN is a lush and exciting book, putting you into the action and in the hands of an action-art master. It has my highest recommendation. Another home run for the Men’s Adventure Library division of New Texture books!

You can learn more about Mr. Cohen’s aviation art here:

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