A Princess of Mars Cover by Frank E. Schoonover

One of the classic editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars is the first printing, published by A.C. McClurg & Co. in 1917. Frank E. Schoonover, a top illustrator of the day, painted the cover and interior plates. Schoonover was a student of the master Howard Pyle, as was NC Wyeth, and there are definite similarities between the artists.


Frank E. Schoonover A Princess of Mars Cover

A Princess of Mars, 1917 First Edition, cover by Frank E. Schoonover


Taking a scan of the original painting, I explored what we might do today – with classic and modern typefaces – to create a cover.

Frank E. Schoonover A Princess of Mars Cover

Frank E. Schoonover A Princess of Mars Cover

Frank E. Schoonover A Princess of Mars Cover

Frank E. Schoonover A Princess of Mars Cover

Frank E. Schoonover A Princess of Mars Cover

Frank E. Schoonover A Princess of Mars Cover

Frank E. Schoonover A Princess of Mars Cover

Scott Dutton

Scott Dutton is a graphic designer and illustrator with experience in marketing, publishing and information design
  1. Linda Moore Kurth left a comment on January 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I like the bottom text the best. It seems to go with the era of the painting.

    • Scott Dutton left a comment on January 20, 2012 at 6:51 pm

      Hi Linda –

      Thanks. I always find it helpful to try things that blend with images, and also what contrasts with them.

  2. Scott Dutton left a comment on January 22, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Here are a couple of comments on the covers from facebook :

    “And we have a kilt as well! LOL. Oh, and the third version I prefer. Just seems cleaner to me. Not as ‘busy’ and also to the point.”

    and

    “I like the first two options – the colour of the dress echoed in the top bar which extends into the lettering. The lettering has a slightly alien feel, too.”

  3. Khanada left a comment on January 23, 2012 at 7:43 am

    I prefer the 4th one. Very clean, really pops and the text really goes with the art well. 🙂

  4. Bob Cody left a comment on March 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Your epub is truly a masterpiece of design! Thanks greatly for making it available.

    Perhaps you can help me – as my web url shows I create epubs based on historic geologic books and articles. In many of these I need a font that contains small caps options, such as the Adobe Minion and Minion Pro fonts. I would use these fonts in my epubs, but I hav also believed that they are copyrighted by Adobe.

    Thus, I was surprised to find you were using the Adobe Caslon fonts that I had thought copyrighted also. Do I need to get permission from Adobe to use the fonts, and if so, how would I go about obtaining permission?

    • Scott Dutton left a comment on March 30, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      Hi Bob –

      If you’ve purchased your copies of Adobe’s typefaces, it is generally permissable – depending on the typeface and when you bought it – to embed it in electronic documents.

      Small caps specifically is a problem currently in ePUBs. They just don’t display properly in ereaders for most extended OpenType fonts that contain them. If you have an older PostScript or TrueType font that is only small caps, you could convert that to OpenType, but I haven’t tried that. You could also do a character style workaround, tagging the lowercase letters with a smaller uppercase style, but the strokes would be thinner than they should be. Hopefully, with ePUB 3 coming, this issue will be fixed.

      Thank you for your kind words about the book. I’ll have a look at some of your work as well. I have a soft spot for non-fiction book design.

  5. A. Q. Porter left a comment on April 8, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    To be honest, I don’t see any of the “updates” as an improvement on the original lettering. It just fits better with the painting.

    • Scott Dutton left a comment on April 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm

      It’s fortunate that we live in a time when we have access to the great works of the past, preserving them, as well as exploring, adapting and sharing those works with new generations. ePublishing allows us to serve the needs and wants of many different audiences, instead of limiting them to only one idea.

  6. Ruth left a comment on April 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    What a fun illustration to work with, Scott! Reminds me of the wonderful style of NC Wyeth!

    • Scott Dutton left a comment on April 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      Good eye. Schoonover and NC Wyeth were students of Howard Pyle.

  7. Dayne left a comment on April 19, 2012 at 3:40 am

    I like your first one the best. Did not notice the crossbar missing from the ‘A’ at first glance, but as I look back and forth, the others are fine… just really, really prefer you first one (just under the original).

    The missing crossbar reminds me a bit of the Alien movie titles, and seem to transmit that though the image is ‘fantasy’ (what with a sword and all), there is that sci-fi in the font. Plus the ‘fabric’-ish look in the red and the long lead down as the eye follows the sword into the image leaves it open without the text or a large top border disturbing the eye, yet set the title.

    Hope that makes sense.

    • Scott Dutton left a comment on April 19, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Sure thing. Thanks for your thoughts.

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